We have been casting blanks for nearly 8 years now. We have been the innovators of and brains behind, many ideas and colors out there today. We made call making easier and have helped many people get started in it. A lot of people think that we are against people casting their own blanks. This is false. We are against people copying our colors and ideas, then trying to compete against us by selling those blanks.
We see a lot of customers stop ordering and try to cast their own blanks. More often than not, then return to order blanks again after realizing that casting isn’t what they thought it would be. I decided to write this article, not to discourage people from casting, but to educate would-be casters on what to expect before they waste a lot of money and potentially hurt themselves in the process.
First off, casting is expensive. There are a LOT of hidden costs that most don’t realize before getting into it. Between the supplies, safety equipment, degassing, etc, it all adds up. You really need to do the math first. We sell a barrel for $10. To cast one you may be able to cast it for half as much. That is $5 saved! Except now you need to subtract your materials, equipment, and most importantly, time. In the hour it takes you to cast a blank and clean up, how many barrels could you have turned? More on this later.
Now this list isn’t all inclusive, and to just cast a couple blanks, it may not all be necessary, but if you are serious about casting, these is actually a very basic list.
Safety – Insulated, temp controlled room. NIOSH respirator. Chemical proof rubber gloves. Clean air ventilation system. Fire extinguisher. Proper clothing or coveralls. See…resin casting is dangerous. The fumes are harzardous and VERY explosive. People have burnt their house down while casting. It can hurt your skin if it gets on it. It will also make your entire house smell if not isolated.
Materials – Resin, hardener, pigments, molds, mold release, thermometer, psychrometer, degass chamber (vacuum or pressure), work bench. Resin has a VERY short shelf life. If not used quick enough, it goes bad. It also needs to have correct temperature and humidity to set right. While vacuum chambers are fairly safe, pressure pots that can reach the required pressure for degassing, are expensive and dangerous. Molds can be cheap or very expensive. Cheap molds will get you a handful of casts before they need to be replaced. Our insert and goose molds were over $900 ea. Pigments aren’t real expensive until you want to do lots of colors. Then they add up quick. You could have $4 in pigments into JUST ONE BARREL.
Disposables – Cups, mixing sticks, paper towels, etc. Pretty self explanatory but again, they add up quick.
Again, this is just a basic list.
You will lose anywhere from 10 – 20% of material from spills, mold leaks, stuff left in the cup and container.
You will lose approx 1% of your blanks to breakage when remolding, air pockets, not getting hard in the mold, getting stuck in the mold, colors that aren’t right, etc.
You will spend nearly twice as much time cleaning your molds as you will casting.
I have done the math, numerous times. Casting vs buying blanks. How many calls could you make, in the time you spend casting? How much do you actually save? If you are going to cast 10,000 blanks and make 10,000 calls from them, the investment may be worth it. If you are making and selling a couple hundred calls a year, it probably isn’t. You will double your time investment, or half the amount of calls out the door. All to only make a couple dollars more per call.
Casting sucks. Seriously. It is fun the first few times. The final results are cool. The rest sucks. Ask my mom, who casts all our blanks. It is boring, time consuming, and very frustrating. She has gotten phenomenal at it, but up until then, we had a LOT of fails. Even to this day, we still have blanks that don’t turn out, almost daily.
If you want to buy a couple pigments, make a mold, and try and cast a few blanks…it is fun. I highly recommend trying it. Just keep in mind, from someone who has 8 years experience, and tens of thousands of dollars invested, unless you are casting and turning well into the 1000s a year, it isn’t a good business decision.