Build a better Rattrap
February 17, 2006 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Any toy designers on Mefi? I am an artist looking to make a Transformer. I have access to 3-D programs, rapid prototyping and moldmaking capabilities. I'd like material suggestions / online tutorials (if any)...

As a follow-up of sorts to this question - what sorts of materials are modern toys made of? Specifically, a modern Transformer or Marvel action figure is made of what kinds of plastics generally? Are they special secret formulas, or could I buy gallons of it?

Here's the situation - I am an artist who has made various toy forms for projects. I am looking to do something more advanced in design and construction. What I'd like to do is make an abstract "Transformer". I would make a multi-jointed, ball-and-socket vertebrate-like form that can be moved, repositioned, "transformed." I'd like it to be as durable and as rugged as the actual modern toys, so I'd like to use that plastic.

Part two (which actually precedes question 1) - I have access to Maya. Could I make a model (know how to do), output with rapid prototyping tools (know how to do), then make a silicone mold (know how to do), then cast plastic and have the same part as a "real" toy? Or could I perhaps have even better plastics (or other materials)..?

Part three - are there tutorials online for "pro" production of toys?

posted by Slothrop to Media & Arts (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If he doesn't post in this thread, you may want to get ahold of MeFi member Adam Savage. He's done R&D for toy companies in the past and seems like he'd know something about this. Good luck!
posted by zsazsa at 3:14 PM on February 17, 2006

My layman understanding is that most plastics are cast by injection under pressure in (expensive) metal molds.

I think the answers to your other questions hinge on whether you need to create only one, or a production line of many, or full-on mass production. Most techniques simply don't scale - metal molds are insane for a one-off, and highly involved complex human hand-assembly is insane for mass production.

If only one, then it's probably worth experimenting with various materials just too see if you find anything useful, eg testing how easily you can use 24-hour epoxy as a castable plastic, and how durable the result is.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:42 PM on February 17, 2006

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