Troll Forged Miniatures creates new casting method

By Polar_Bear
In Fantasy
Jun 17th, 2012

Troll Forged Miniatures has created a new way to spin-mold plastics and as such, will have their sets ready to sell very soon.

TFM has cracked the enigma of plastic spin casting, to create ‘Trollcast’, and now it’s ready for prime time. As a result the first box sets will be coming to the TFM store very soon. The box sets will be based of select miniatures already in the store, and offered at a very reasonable price.

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  • Dewbakuk

    The one figure I’ve seen cast looks good. This could be worth keeping an eye on.

  • metalsifter

    I would challenge his claim of them being the only ones in the world to have done this, they wouldn’t know what other companies have tested out over the years.

    We had also tested using polystyrene in spin casting at GW for a few years (when I worked for them in Memphis). The guy in charge of the testing left GW and is now working for PP and took all the material and info with him so I’m sure they’ll have something similar coming out soon.

    It also doesn’t sound like it is polystyrene, since you can’t use polystyrene cement on the models, it sounds more like a resin mix.

    BUT, they do look good and are far less expensive than other models so I hope this works well for them.

    • Argate

      But what you use for polystyrene spincast? One of the great problem in using plastic/resin in spincast is wastage of material in moulds ducts. When using metal can recycle it but liquid catalyses resin cannot be recycled.
      The best is IMHO polystyrene, can be recycled, is more hard (so no bend weapon) but is easy to cut, is light and cost inexpensive.

      • metalsifter

        There are several ways to recycle used resins and RTVs, grinding the resin down into a powder and mixing it with the “B” component is one, putting some of the regrind in the mold before pouring the new resin is another.

        You can also grind up the RTV used for molds and do the same thing. If you mix the regrind in with the resin before pouring it into the mold it does increase the viscosity a bit, but that depends on how big the mold cavity is and how much regrind you use.

        • Argate

          Thanks a lot for your answer Metalsifter, but what type of resin you use? I used this one: is liquid and after catalysis become hard like Forge World resin. CAn you indicate the resin you refer in your answer (a link please?

          • metalsifter

            For my own personal castings I like Smooth-On’s 300 series. It’s inexpensive, 1:1 mix and feels like polystyrene when you cut it.

            PP I think uses the same thing, it;s a very forgiving resin. If you get the mix slightly wrong it still cures just fine.

            The various places I’ve worked used dozens, if not hundreds, of different resins from various manufacturers. It would be hard to list them all.

  • odinsgrandson

    I’ll grant you that we don’t know for sure if another company does this and has yet to reveal it.

    But since these are the first announced minis that have used this method and gone to market, they get the #1 record for it.

    Overall, I hope this can improve plastics across the board. I’m certain that if this works out well, other companies will also improve their plastic lines.

  • Sean_OBrien

    Sounds a lot like a PVC dispersion to me.

    They have a bunch of different manufactures of the materials, and they sell it for different reasons. One is used for making molds (melt it, pour it and when it cools – you have a mold). Others are used to make things like fishing lures (Alumilite is selling a version).

    Like all plastics, depending on what you put in the mix you can change the physical properties – more plasticizers make it softer and all of that. Some that I have used were almost like glass – others more like a gummy worm. All of them though were heat to pour, cast, cool and demold. The majority of them even let you remelt the miscasts. Some of them, you could even use PVC cement on.

    Granted, he could have discovered a new polymer…but I just don’t see the first use of a chemical breakthrough being miniatures.

    • Argate

      Interesting. So what do you think about privateer press? They don’t seems PVC, and don’t seems polystyrene, look more similar to resin. Where can I found more info?

      • metalsifter

        PP have said several times on their forums and at Lock & Load it was a type of PVC, what “chemical mix” though I have no idea.

      • Sean_OBrien

        Don’t really have an opinion on PP – however, they were not making a claim of being the first in the world to do something.

        I know this isn’t the first in the world spin casting of plastics. I know of a few different ways it has been done (not sure which one they used as it seems this is a ‘super secret’ formula which he hasn’t been willing to let anyone in on). I mentioned a couple of different methods above. Google will show you products and techniques for those methods in a minute or so.

        At this point though, I don’t have an opinion on the castings themselves – as AFAIK, no one has seen them. Could be a great thing, could be another way to make bendy plastic figures (Reaper, PP and others do already). That is sort of irrelevant to the claim at hand though.

        • Argate

          Seems we two different google 😀 if I google the words “Plastic Spin cast” or what else similar I found only Teckcast site, but their plastic seems more expensive then metal and don’t see any info about reclining the material.

          • metalsifter

            It’s also a component resin, not “regular” plastic like polystyrene (which is in pellet form).

          • Sean_OBrien

            Not always, most the PVC and vinyls which are used with spin casting are actually 1 part, not an A+B compound, granted it is a little more complicated than that as within that 1 part, the A+B is actually mixed together and when you heat it up – the two combine to make what will become the hard plastic after casting.

            This might be an A+B, it might be a 1 part – don’t know really as they seem to regard it as some form of secret formula.

            Regarding two different Google’s – mostly just not knowing what you are looking for I guess. Try looking up PVC dispersion (sort of the broad name for a common group of chemicals used for this type of work) and vinyl spin casting (garage kit figure makers have been doing them – in their garages – since the 1970s). Hot melt vinyl is another term which might be useful.

            My concern if this is something new – is that it is new. Over the years I have worked with a lot of new plastics from big companies (Dow, Dupont, Polyone). One of the problems that new plastics have, is that they haven’t become old yet. The plasticizers can migrate because they haven’t been fully tested over time which can cause for gooey paint coatings or brittle plastics after a few years time.

          • Argate

            Thanks again Sean. But why don’t use pure polystyrene? Seems the best medium IMHO

          • Sean_OBrien

            Plastics are a complicated thing. While most people think of them as being a solid – most are a mix of different compounds…some as co-polymers others as a hopefully homogenous mixture. They also don’t behave exactly like basic materials (in that they go from solid, to liquid, to gas) as they are heated and cooled.

            In the case of regular HIPS – the material which is generally used for plastic models and by a few different toy soldier companies, it never really turns into a liquid once polymerized. If you heat it to its glass transition temperature, it will change from a solid into something which isn’t solid – but not really liquid either…it is sort of like really thick syrup. This material can then be pushed into molds using great force (and a bit of heat too…you don’t want it to solidify before the mold is full). That is why polystyrene uses metal molds, to withstand the force of pushing the polystyrene.

            Other plastics have different properties when heated to their glass transition temperature. Some become very liquid – water like. Others don’t have a transition point and will simply loose structural integrity and combust.

            There are other issues which you need to be aware of as well. If your plasticizer has an evaporation point which is below the plastics glassy temperature you will cook it off when heating the plastic and be left with the brittle polymer. Also, all plastics will degrade if over heated. In the case of PVC it can release the C portion of the mix in the form of HCl. Other plastics will have other degradation child molecules…none of which are very nice. Proper use of stabilizers and careful heating though avoids this (most polymer clays are PVC based and there isn’t a huge problem with soccer moms falling over from hydrogen chloride poisoning).

  • Gallahad

    I can’t wait for this. I’ve been following the progress for a long time on the forums. They have a lot of really nice stuff in the works.

  • trollforged

    Hey guy’s, I honestly did not expect this, I sent shots of the product but my web guy did not find them clear enough so I just sent him more pictures. I do agree about being first, sure someone else might have but considering I’m getting 1 min demold time on very fine figures and just snagged a job under bidding China due to labor involved I’m pretty sure no one else is suing my system. 100% sure no but fairly confident. I know all about pvc plastisols, thermal resins and thermo resins. I waited since 2009 to make sure there were no issues with plasticizers bleeding etc. I can’t get into details here but all I’ll say is it is not a common casting system, I promise that. As a single person I cast over 6,000 parts myself in around an 8-9 hour work period.

    The material is great to work with and carries over some impact resistance and a high, very high flex strength. I’m sending out samples in orders and when the releases hit the store I’m sure people will be pleased with price and quality. In fact I just noticed today I goofed and sent shots of per production casts as they are so clear already.

    As for the technical things you can mix a pvc plastisol heated and use resins to fule the chain reactions on the thermal setting side of that material, however due to health concerns I’m not overly excited about that. PVC can also create polyvynal chloride which is a toxic gas capable of killing you and also corrosive to duct work. I do not recommend any one ever using it myself even though it is used by many companies with great results. I want to be sure to mention this as part of the blerb because I’d hate see anyone try this and get hurt.

    That said I’m very happy with the system as it will make customers happy while also reducing my labor and prices while increasing quality. Waste is only pennies per figure as density is so low and while we are at it a common practice of the injection plastic field is the recycle comment, same with metal. As a metal caster also I can tell you it can be remelted yes but only so long before it degrades and thermo plastics are the same, they are not capable to melt over and over and over like most people think.

    So in short:
    1) detail of resin
    2) high out put of castings
    3) very low cost of waste
    4) great impact strength
    5) heat resistance up to 200F with no problem
    6) above average flexibility compared to most resins and polystyrene.
    7) takes paint very well

    Oh, and I am still pushing to get it to glue with styrene glue. I do however feel that is not as much a benefit as the current mix, if I find a way to alter a ratio OR component to work this out I will but as of now that is just not working with out to many other sacrifices. Hope this helps and please be safe if your going to experiment like I do read your chemistry and research heavily first, there are years of research into this.

    • Argate

      Hi Ed, really interest in your experiment and thanks for your clarification here.
      How is shrinkage by cooling? From pictures I have previous see on your site/blog some miniatures, I don’t know if it is the sculpt itself, seems has rounded edges.

      In any case, you selling separately your mixture or is a trollforge exclusive casting material?

  • trollforged

    @ Argate, if the cast has rounded edges it’s the figure. I just shot a few pictures of the Sasha Grey charity figure sculpted by the infamous Kev White last night and it’s amazing how clear and crisp it is. That will probably be floating about somewhere on the net soon even with my poor camera shots.

    Shrinkage is next to nothing. I’ve measured some figures with calipers from masters as in greens, or metals if those were provided and found similar sizes so no change with my simple hand adjusted ones, digital might show something but I don’t own a pair.

    Last comment I forgot to mention is the mold life seems to be high, much higher than I originally dreamed but still have no clue if and when they will degrade, thus cost and savings brought over to customers and clients. I believe that alone will explain more is going on because Isocyanates are cause of mold break down, these leach from most resins, and degrade the silicon.

    One last lesson on the plastic industry to get people to understand exactly how complex it is. Most professional plastic experts have no idea you CAN recycle thermal set plastics like thermo setting plastics. RIM and cast elastomer waste for example can actually be extruded and compresses into a product under pressure and changes to a solid part. Also petrol within some resins or epoxies CAN be used as a fuel burning the oils and generating energy similar to coal technology with minimal impurities.

    I leave you all with the knowledge that plastics is probably one if not the most complicated and broad range of products out there and the chemistry involved is extremely complex at times. Chain reactions are and can be developed by heat, pressure, and other means of processing making them a very good tool. I wish I had the mind to study and understand ALL plastics as I feel there is more room to make a perfect plastic for our field but the complexity is beyond my reach, for now anyway. Thanks again and I’ll probably be to busy to drop in here again so sorry if I don’t answer or miss questions. We will try and update the blog page with a FAQ in the near future.