Hello everyone! I'm sure this has been discussed but cant find anything recent. But I'm looking for a cost effective way to get a custom mold done and as I've been researching I found quite a few ways that I'd like some choco-life feedback and opinions on.
There's 2 ways I will ultimately go about this so this is getting done, but looking for safest and most cost effective way to do this.
3D printing. It's come a LONG way since I started researching this several years ago. In the past couple years filament materials have kind of exploded - to the point it's nearly impossible to keep track of all the available materials. It's no longer a matter of PLA or ABS if you too havent looked at this in a while.
In the last year, a few companies have produced an FDA Approved Food Safe filament. There are a few companies making stuff with PET-G (water and soda bottle materials, lesser extent hobby grade mold sheets) and Polycarbonate. But only a few have gone that extra step to get FDA Approval and it's stamped on the spool.
So, has anyone contemplated any of this, looked any further on the aspects of 3d printing custom molds?
I should note, that 3d printers have stepped up in quality, they still dont have super fine resolution without going the route of say, Shapeways, with the multi tens of thousands of dollar machines. However, that should not stop you from finishing any mold that comes out. Sanding, polishing, engraving fine details, sealing (if necessary)
Doing things this way, if you already have the printer, it should only cost approx $10-$20/mold depending on mold size and who you source your filaments from.
I do have a line into the FDA to confirm that this is food safe and possible. The big question on hand is if it's a sterilizable finished piece. Polycarbonate does require much hotter temps to print though, so any bacteria on the filament is likely to be destroyed. Proper finishing should provide a food contact surface that is sterilizable though.
So while I'm waiting I'd love to hear your opinions on the matter.
The other, much more expensive option is to 3d print a "positive". Well, I guess in mold making terms they'd ultimately be negatives. But you'd design the bar/tablet/bonbon the exact way that you want it to look. You then print that out in whatever plastic is your choice. Then you spend extra time getting that finished/post processed to look as perfect as you can get it. Then you use that as a negative and pour a silicone mold of the printed piece.
With the mold materials that I've seen and researched, this is entirely food safe and sterilizable and may actually make for a better mold than what Polycarbonate can do due to stretching and elongation properties of the silicone. That being said, an "avg" size mold would run between $30-$50 each. Better than getting an injection mold created, but also more expensive than just buying commercially available molds.
Anyone trying any of the above options? What are your thoughts on it? If you've tried it, how is it working for you?