Review: Instant Mold

Instant MoldInstant Mold is a material to fabricate moulds. There is no producer listed on the package, but I first noticed it when looking through the products on Cool Mini or Not's website. Luckily - since I'm German and can't order from the US easily - I found the product on the Amazon marketplace.

Instant Mold is sold as a blister pack with 6 bars of material.
The special feature of this product is that the material can be re-used, they claim unlimited use. This was very interesting to me, since often you lose only one item or you sculpt something that you could use one copy of, but not neccessarily more than that. A proper rubber mould would be sheer overkill in that case. It would be too pricy, take too much effort and time and waste resources. So I quickly grabbed a package and tested it.

 

How does it work?

To use this, just boil a pot of water, throw the Instand Mold in for two minutes, dry it quickly and then press it firmly on the item you want to copy. Once it has set - and that wait is only a few minutes - you can remove the original and use Apoxie, Green Stuff or any modelling putty of your choice to make a copy.

When you don't require the mold anymore you just throw it into hot water again and make a new one.
Easy as pie!

 

What can I do with it?

Naturally, Instant Mold isn't suitable to make multi-part moulds. So you can only duplicate flat items or items where a missing backside doesn't mattern. Shields, bases, some shoulder pads or weapons. For terrain building, I'm thinking of stuff like wagon wheels which shall go against a house wall as deco, sculpted floor or wall tiles for dioramas, perhaps even a skeletal arm or two to decorate your bases.
I can imagine a whole lot of uses for this, not just for the miniature hobby. Crafters and doll enthusiasts like me also run into situations where a copy of a surface or selfmade item would be swell.

While Instant Mold has to be heated to 100°C / 170°F it cools down rapidly and isn't as hot anymore after drying it, so it doesn't damage the original item and can be used for plastic just as well as for metal.

 

So, what's your impression?

Instant Mold

So far I conducted two tests with Instant Mold. Test No.1: One of our Super Dungeon Explore miniatures was missing a base and I don't want to bother customer service for such a minor thing. Test No.2: During our last move a whole bunch of large shields went missing from my Chronopia Elves army and so far hasn't resurfaced.
So, let's go!

Instead of boiling water in a cooking pot I used an electric kettle and poured the boiling water into a shallow glass bowl. That made it considerably easier to get the Instant Mold out again without burns. I waited for two minutes, used a big spoon to get the stuff out, quickly swabbed it with paper towel and BAMM! Pressed it on the original which was peacefully sitting on a glass plate.

For both tests I repeated the process since both times I wasn't satisfied with the results. In my opinion two minutes isn't enough to get the material truly soft, or maybe my choice of vessel made the water cool down too fast. On the second try, after the still warm material was in hot water again, it worked much better.
Furthermore, one block wasn't enough to make a decent base mold, but it was no problem to heat up two blocks, roll them into a ball then, heat them up again and then use this bigger mass.

After a short period the Instant Mold, which feels a bit like soft clay when hot and a bit like wax when cold, was cooled down and I could remove the original. Then I made one copy of each with Apoxie and used the end of a brush to add a dent to the still soft material of the shield at the same position as on the original.

 

Instant Mold

The results are what I would call about 85% satisfying.

-The level of detail is superb. The shield copy will look exactly like the original after painting - apart from its weight, of course - and the base also has all details of the original.

- The copies require considerably more clean-up compared to items from multi-part moulds, since there's always some putty overflow. That was to be expected though and is okay, we don't plan to make this into assembly-line work and do it a thousand times, after all.

- Sadly the putty doesn't just stick out of the mold, it also is missing some parts of the border. The reason for that is that the mold even at the second try (and despite an eagerly pressing strong husband) always keeps a slightly slanted rim around the original and thus misses some of the original's depth. Imagine trying to press flat a rubber ball - it will always try to bounce back and it's the same with Instant Mold. It stays a rubberlike mass and doesn't flow like the material for a rubber mold. If the original shield has a thickness of 2mm then my copy has about 1-1.5mm, thus the right edge is a bit eaten away. The base is also partly missing its crisp bottomline. I'll have to put some work in to add some more putty. Perhaps this problem can be solved by padding the original's height - if possible - with a tiny object beneath. Or by heating up Instant Mold a bit longer and hoping that it becomes even softer by that.

 

Conclusion

Overall, I'm satisfied so far. Instant Mold isn't cheap but it amortises quickly once you made some copies with it and saved the money for proper moulds. The results even of the first tries are more than good enough to actually use them and with some more experience I'm sure there can be even better results. Next time, for instance, I would use two blocks to make a mould of the shield so it becomes more stiff and I don't need to worry about a bent shield because I pressed the putty in too hard and warped the mold.

How long "unlimited use" is only the future will tell, but in our first tests the material was easily rolled into a smooth ball again with no gaps, gouges or other artifacts of the previous shape. If my Instant Mold goes bad one day I'll let you know how many molds I was able to make with it.



 

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