Custom Bead Assembly Jig

Custom Bead Assembly Jig

If you’ve read my last couple of posts, you’ll know that I’m working on creating custom Pandora style beads that I can put items such as pet hair into as a keepsake.

This is the mould used to create the beads……

… and holding it popped out would allow the hair to be wrapped around.

Personally I think this would be impractical, as one hand is constantly holding the mould – which wants to spring back to shape.  Also, I’m not sure about the effect this would have on the mould long term in weakening it or causing it to lose shape over time.

The solution?  To have something to wrap the objects around / stick on to UV resin.  I can’t use anything 3D printed for this, as the resin will adhere to it.  Ideally it should also be silicone, just like the mould.

This is the shape I came up with, allowing for different diameters to be made. The little lips just help in holding whatever I’m adding in position.

So, how to make it in silicone?  Well, I can’t make a silicone mould of this to cast a silicone mould, as the new silicone would just stick to the old. I could very easily just make a 3D printed mould of the shape by virtually ‘cutting it out’ of a solid block and printing that.  But no, that would be too easy…….  

The route I’m going down is to use dental alginate.  You know the gunk that the dentist make an imprint of your teeth with? That.

It’s quite commonly used in the hobby world to make plaster casts – babies feet, couples holding hands – you know the type of thing.  It sets quite fast and silicone doesn’t stick to it.

So here it is all mixed (it has a nice minty smell!) with the shape pressed into it.
It’s a really fine powder (think cornflour), hence the mess.

When set after just a few minutes it very easily pulled out with a satisfying ‘pop’

And you can pour in your silicone.  The rubber band was to help pull it out, I didn’t know if the alginate would grip onto it at all and didn’t want to have to rip it apart if I could help it.

But it actually came out really easily.

And there I had it! A silicone mould to make the wrapping process easier, which can easily be held in the hand.

But hold on…… surely one of the reasons I was doing this was to free up my hand?  I mean, I could stand it on the desk top and work sideways, but again it’s making life awkward.

Time to get creative!

So here’s the answer! a quick printed design to make life easier.

It’s been a busy couple of days, but I’m more than happy with the result, and quite look forward to the next stage once I get something to work with.

Thanks for reading!

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