3D Workshop/Metal Workshop/Wood Workshop: Badge Experiments

This is working towards objective 4.C.

I had previously noted on previous blog posts that I wanted to create badges as part of my “what’s my name again?!” project, and had previously experimented with Fimo and card stocks, and had enquired with Leon in the Metal Workshop at college about different ways to do so.

This week I spent 3 days using various workshops – 3D, Metal and Wood – in order to create a range of prototype badges which could be taken forward in the future/further development of this project.

I experimented with a range of processes and materials, i,e, wood, pewter, copper, brass, acrylic.

Pewter Badge Prototype:

To create the pewter badge prototype, a mould had to be made from silicone in order to set the molten pewter. To do so, a laser cutting was used with ply wood in order to gain solid accurate shapes to create a mould from. Getting the same accurate was important in order to be consistent with the project aesthetic, branding and other using of the ‘lips’ icon, and having issues previously with using Fimo thought laser-cutting similar to die-cutting will ensure for a perfect shape to be re-created.

This was my first time using the Metal Workshop at the college and my first time using metal in any way so the entire process was a learning curb and a challenge which I really enjoyed.

  1. Set up .ai file on laser cutting software ensuring cut-through options and material set-up have been correctly selected.

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2. Laser cut shapes are created. Looking back I would of used MDF due to the wood grain showing on the silicone, however this is something I have learnt through trial and error.

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3. The laser cut shapes were set in silicone being supported by a clay-bed. This process was created for both laser cut pieces in order to create two moulds.

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4. Below shows the silicone moulds with the wooden pieces. This is when I realised I should of used MDF opposed to Ply Wood, however for prototyping I did not mind the slightly textured grain and also did not have the time available to recreate another mould.

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4. Pewter has a low melting point, so sets quite quickly, allowing for inserting the pin back to be quite tricky. It was also quite hard to ensure that the pin back didn’t tilt or sink too deeply into the pewter to ensure that the cover can be applied.

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5. The bottom layer worked very well, however due to being a slightly awkward shape and the surface level not being flat the pewter on the second mould over-ran meaning that this would need to be cut off using a coping saw, and sanded down, opposed to being the shape as desired straight away. This defeats the point of the mould however understand that through trial and error in this experimental stage of the process, this can happen as a learning curb whilst also allowing for me to learn how to rectify something should it go wrong.

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6. Below shows the cut out and sanded down shapes. The front and backs and have also been sanded down in order for the two parts to sit flat when soldered together.

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7. Soldering the two pieces of pewter together was a quick processes using a heat torch and a flattened silver wire to solder between the two objects. It was important throughout and particularly at this stage to wear PPE.

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8. Below shows the soldered and finished pewter badge. Looking back I should of used the smaller laser cut lips to use as moulds opposed to a larger shape, as the final product is quite heavy and would really need two pin backs to hold weight on a garment and feel if this process was to be repeated then I would trial this as the next experimental process. However, overall I am happy with the object produced but do not feel it is as clean as I had envisioned nor being as aesthetically pleasing. I feel that this perhaps would be a cost effective way of producing badges should they be smaller and a larger mould is produced perhaps with a series of badges inset opposed to simply one, to also make this process more time effective as overall took around a day and a half with waiting for the silicone to set and cool.

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Copper and Brass Badge Prototype:

The next process and materials to try were hand-cutting and finishing copper and brass. I really liked the colour contrast and felt this lifts the aesthetic, gives a clearer sense of what is is and is more resonant of the icon used throughout my project and in respect of the source of inspiration, Kylie Jenner.

This was a new process to me so I feel as though I really learnt a lot in the metal workshop and was able to apply this is prototypes I am happy with and could further develop.

  1. Sheets of 0.5mm copper and brass were supplied to draw my designs on using a thin marker pen. These shapes would then be carefully cut out using a coping saw and wax to protect the blade, ensure it doesn’t snap and to also ensure it cuts through the material smoothly. PPE is worn here to protect hands and workbenches are used to ensure the materials are steady and that you have concentrated light and focus. I found the drips quite tricky to cut out snapping a blade, however through trial and error eventually got the hang of the best angle to cut at, 90 degrees and managed to finish without snapping any elements or being too far off my original markings.

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2. The slides were sanded down slightly on a band sander and using very fine sandpaper, before using hand files to ensure the curves on the inner drips are smooth. Fine sandpaper and water is also used across the front and back of both pieces until clean and shiny – this ensures the solder works to the best of its ability as the Flux only takes to clean surfaces. I learnt throughout this process that good preparation ensures for a better result.

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3. Once happy, flattened silver wire again was used and cut into fine pieces and mixed with Flux – a crystal salt which acts as a binding agent when soldering. These pieces are then places on to the copper where the brass will be soldered.

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4. Using a soldering gun and wearing PPE, the pieces are heated until soldered together – this can be seen when soldering as the brass drops slightly when heated. Once soldered together, the material is cooled in water.

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5. Once cooled, the material is dropped into the acid bath until clean of any residue caused from soldering.

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6. Once clean, the material is again sanded down with fine sand paper and water, and then polished using the machine below which spins the material in a bath of hot water. Once finished the material comes out clean and simply needs buffing or polishing.

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7. Once polished, the pin back can be glued on using a strong adhesive called, Evo-Stick.

Final product images can be found below.

Overall I am really happy with the final outcome to say that this was my first ever experience in the metal workshop and feel particularly through this process learnt so many new things from the qualities and properties of metal to how to execute a product beyond my usual capabilities. I do not feel though however that producing these for many promo packs would be viable due to cost and time of producing each one by hand, however as a new process and experimental piece feel it was worth pursuing and feel very proud of the iconic and distinct outcome.

I do not feel as though it is perfect and feel the shape could of been cut slightly more accurately and perhaps been sanded more prior to polishing however feel for a first attempt as though it was a success and can learn from these errors going forward if I was to work in this way again.

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Acrylic Laser Cut Badge Prototypes:

┬áThe final process used to make prototype pin badges was laser cutting using 3mm perspex acrylic. After using the laser cutter to cut out plywood shapes for my silicone mould experiments, I knew that this process would be time and cost effective if set up correctly. Therefore, as shown below in order to not waste materials, I would essentially ‘mass produce’ the shapes in order to produce different coloured prototypes. I also decided at this stage to add in the idea of producing key rings and necklaces which could be used as alternates in the promo packs, by cutting additional shapes with a 2mm hole for findings. I thought this would be a time effective way of producing a range of promotional goods from the same materials, at the same time.

  1. The ai. document is set up on the laser cutting software ensuring the cut-through and material set-up is correct.

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2. This process was repeated several times with various coloured 3mm perspex acrylics. The cut out shapes can be seen below.

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4. Once all cut out Evo-Stick was used to stick the badges together after being informed at Tensol 12, an adhesive is made of very strong chemicals ‘known to cause cancers’ and not really recommended for use by students in an open environment (a needle is used to apply this to ensure it doesn’t get on your hands). Eco-Stick was also used to attach the pin backs to the reverse of the badges also.

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Eco-Stick can be seen below – 2 equal parts are mixed together prior to using for a fast-setting adhesive which can be used on most materials.

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5. Below shows the finished products prior to attaching findings for keyrings/necklaces. Finished badges can also be seen below in poly bags.

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6. Below shows 3 badges which were discarded due to using too much glue on one allowing for seeping adhesive to be seen on the red lip, the silver mirror acrylic is 6mm not 3mm so makes the badge bulky whilst also the backing slightly melted whilst being laser cut due to the heat distorting the mirror effect in places, whilst Tensol 12 can be seen dried over the glitter acrylic badge which went wrong prior to swapping to Evo-Stick.

I had already ordered a 3mm gold mirror acrylic prior to experimenting with these badges as it did not deliver on time, however would like to attempt this again and speak with Johnathon the wood work technician about the settings to see if anything can be done to successfully use the acrylic without damaging it hindering the final outcome.

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Above shows examples of a range of final outcomes. I found these really easy, quick, enjoyable and cost effective to produce with a small amount of materials being needed. By planning before hand, I had all of the materials ready and simply needed to book a laser cut slot. I feel going forward out of the 5 or 6 processes experimented with in regards to the promo badges, I feel visually this has been the most effective. I have since posted images on feedback and received positive feedback, particularly in regards to the pink sparkle badges. I also really like h0w laser cutting allows for each product produced or shape that is cut to be exactly the same allowing for accuracy and little waste. Pink sparkle acrylic was used to tie in with the prototypes created using card, and vinyl tote bag experiments whilst also adding a bold and feminine visual dynamic to the project.

I plan on creating card backs for the pin badge as seen with the card prototype badges to improve the aesthetic of the poly bags, making them more presentable for photographing and recording for this project, portfolio, development and submission boards really allowing for the product to be seen in a commercial context. Furthermore, I would also like to photograph these products being worn/in-use.