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Old 09-18-2015, 08:14 AM   #1
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Comprehensive How-To make your own light lenses

Comprehensive How-To...don't say I never helped anyone!

(feel this needed to be a new post as my first one didn't start off so hot and this detailed instructions ended up just being a reply further down in the thread)

What you will need:

All obtained from Alumilite.com for $100 Great service and great product!
-Water Clear resin (1lb is plenty! you could make 50 lenses with that)
-Plat 55 Silicone (1lb)
-Rubber to Rubber mold release
-Red dye
-Orange dye
-Synthetic Clay



Harbor Freight:
-Pressure pot $100 (I returned mine when I was done...free loan)
Paint Pressure Tank - 2-1/2 Gallon

Great instructions on their site:
How to make a mold: http://www.alumilite.com/PDFs/Printa...-Equipment.pdf
How to cast a lens:
http://www.alumilite.com/PDFs/Printa...h-Equiment.pdf

Now I am going to tell you what to do outside of their instructions.

FIRST OF ALL!! If you are not an obsessive compulsive this job is not for you. Haha. I am relentless once I set my mind on something. I first set off down this path because I am a purist and want the original look. VTS is going to start making these lights but in LED and I assumed that even if they were $10 each I would have $100 in, so why not just do it myself for $100 (I almost regret this decision due to how hard casting resin can be). YOU MUST HAVE A PRESSURE POT. The compression in the pot keeps the bubbles from expanding and ruining your lens. One thing I did not do that the alumilite instructions say is the vacuum degassing. That's about a $300 investment I didn't want to make.

First make your mold. Follow the instructions from Alumite on this process but instead of degassing in a vacuum chamber just allow the rubber to cure in the pressure pot at 30-40PSI. I first used High Strength 2 rubber for my mold and later realized it couldn't handle the pressure pot so I made a second one with Plat 55.

Find a material to house the mold. Form the clay and set the original piece.




Pour the first half and let this set overnight and it comes out like this.


Apply the mold release and then pour the second half.




Here is my second mold with Plat55. A harder rubber and it cured it in pressure to reduce air bubbles in it. But I did make a mistake on this mold and was able to somewhat save it but ended up with air bubbles on the edge, which you can see in my castings.


Now it's time to cast some resin!

First pour the Side A of the Water Clear resin. You are suppose to weigh it but I didn't need much and I used the numbers on these tiny cups.


Apply a tiny drop of the dye. TINY


Stir in the dye


Now add the Side B up to number 4 on the cup. This resin is a 50/50 mix and is VERY sensitive. DO NOT deviate from a 50/50 mix or it will never cure.


STIR IS FOR EXACTLY 3 MINUTES. Trust me on this. I once stirred for only 2 minutes and it never cured properly. Learn from my mistake.

Heat the mold in the microwave for 60 seconds. Then pour the resin in.


Brush some resin on the other half to help reduce surface tension and reduce air bubbles.


Put it together. DO NOT MESS WITH IT. You start messing with this and you'll get thin lenses and all kinds of other crap. Just put it together and leave it be.


Now place the mold in the pressure pot. I liked to carry the mold on this little plate I made so that I wasn't accidentally squeezing it and causing issues. TRUST ME, DO NOT man handle the mold once you've poured the resin.


Connect the air compressor and get to 50PSI and let it set for about 4 hours.


Separate the mold.


The first time I had one come out this good I almost cried (after a week of failures and frustrations and realizing all I needed was the pressure pot)


Now it just needs some trim with scissors. YOU MUST let it set for a week to fully cure.


The resin is still soft so be very careful handling it. Again, it take a week to fully cure.


You can see the rough edges. I plan to clean this up and polish them once fully cured. The little bubbles are from my mistake on the mold process. But I am confident I can sand those off and polish with plastic headlight polish (and it's the edge and I could care less )


You can see I've been making quite a few. I have 22 lenses after a week of pouring them as I have time.


This is what happens when you DO NOT have a pressure pot. Tons of air bubbles. I was super discouraged when I tried so many times and got no where.
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Old 09-18-2015, 08:23 AM   #2
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I'm not sure I want to sell any because they are not perfect. The edges will clearly have a slight imperfection after I clean them up. I made a lot because I had a ton of left over resin. I still have half left. Truthfully I don't feel like making anymore because I want to get going on my camper. This kept me busy while its been raining.

I've chatted with the professionals on the alumilite forums and this stuff lasts! There's a guy on there making lenses for early highly collectible cars: you know the 1720 Ferrari whatever horsepower super racecar. Haha. It's impressive to see them reproduce this stuff and charge hundreds/thousands for them because you can't get those things any longer.
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Old 09-18-2015, 08:51 AM   #3
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Or you could go to NAPA and buy one for a couple of bucks. But that would not be near as much fun.
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Old 09-18-2015, 09:40 AM   #4
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First make your mold. Follow the instructions from Alumite on this process but instead of degassing in a vacuum chamber just allow the rubber to cure in the pressure pot at 30-40PSI. I first used High Strength 2 rubber for my mold and later realized it couldn't handle the pressure pot so I made a second one with Plat 55."


A vacuum pot is so much better when making rubber molds, No bubbles at all. I have made hundred of rubber molds for candlemakers. for a chamber I bought a soup pot ( like on a stove) a clear piece of 1/2" plexiglass and a small air compressor that i modified into a vacuum pump. all for about $30.00 . you don't need a full vacuum for degassing a rubber mold.
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Old 09-18-2015, 11:45 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlumaTurtle View Post
First make your mold. Follow the instructions from Alumite on this process but instead of degassing in a vacuum chamber just allow the rubber to cure in the pressure pot at 30-40PSI. I first used High Strength 2 rubber for my mold and later realized it couldn't handle the pressure pot so I made a second one with Plat 55."


A vacuum pot is so much better when making rubber molds, No bubbles at all. I have made hundred of rubber molds for candlemakers. for a chamber I bought a soup pot ( like on a stove) a clear piece of 1/2" plexiglass and a small air compressor that i modified into a vacuum pump. all for about $30.00 . you don't need a full vacuum for degassing a rubber mold.
Or you can go that route. For me I don't have much free time. Even making these lenses was stretching it very thin. I didn't want to make a vacuum chamber or pressure pot. So I bought one from harbor freight and returned it. I would've loved to have the vacuum over the pressure. For sure.
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Old 09-18-2015, 11:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
Or you could go to NAPA and buy one for a couple of bucks. But that would not be near as much fun.
Wait, but what for a couple of bucks? These lenses? I don't believe you.
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Old 09-18-2015, 04:26 PM   #7
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Craig thanks for the info, I was up last night looking at how to do this as well as Injection molding trying to gain some knowledge

Quote:
Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
Or you could go to NAPA and buy one for a couple of bucks. But that would not be near as much fun.
That sounds like a Sea story there Chief. Do tell more

Tony
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Old 09-18-2015, 07:07 PM   #8
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Very nice. Thank You for a great article.
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Old 09-18-2015, 09:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trons4u View Post
Craig thanks for the info, I was up last night looking at how to do this as well as Injection molding trying to gain some knowledge



That sounds like a Sea story there Chief. Do tell more

Tony
ETC (SW)
Tell ya what, I'll give you my left over dye and resin if you want it. This stuff will waste away if someone doesn't take it.
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Old 09-20-2015, 04:38 PM   #10
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Tell ya what, I'll give you my left over dye and resin if you want it. This stuff will waste away if someone doesn't take it.
Yeah, that would be cool. Let me know what you want for it. Nice write up again.
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Old 09-22-2015, 10:12 PM   #11
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$20 and that covers the shipping too. That's red and orange dye, a lb of resin, and some old release.
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Old 09-22-2015, 10:20 PM   #12
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Craig,

You are the man! If I could, I would give you a brand new AS of your choice. Your "How to" tutorial gives many possibilities for other projects.

Thanks for sharing.
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