For all their varied and entertaining uses, circuits and code comprise only part of the complete hacking experience. To really put your project over the top, sooner or later you’ll want to possess some physical fabrication skills. Consider the works of [Ben Heckendorn]: He’s always done a fantastic job with the electronics, but it’s the fit and finish of the enclosures that make him a legend.
“Fabrication” usually conjures images of shop tools — saws and sanders and drills — all tremendously useful skills worth learning, and easily within reach of most home shops or garages. Recently, the techniques of mold making and casting have seen something of a DIY renaissance. Mold making is nothing new, the basic concepts go back millennia, but in just the past few years the materials for extremely high-quality molds have become safer, simpler to use, and easier to acquire.
This being Halloween month, what better example of the medium than this impeccable replica helmet styled after half of the musical duo Daft Punk (a recurring theme among Hack a Day contributors), created by prop maker [Harrison Krix]. After sculpting an original master part (from common hardware store and art store materials, we might add), a one-piece flexible mold is built up from silicone, which captures every minute detail, and later the helmet form is cast from a thin layer of resin. The visor is vacuum formed. A follow-up with the internal electronics build is yet to be posted, but even at this stage the shell alone is so refined it looks straight off a showroom floor. If mold making can do this for someone’s noggin, imagine what it can do for your next creative hardware project. Smooth-On, a major supplier of these materials, has a free PDF introduction and a set of tutorials on their web site.