Mimicking Vintage Pen Blank Material

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hokie

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Hi everyone!
I have been dipping my toes into the world of casting pen blanks and I'm fairly satisfied with things so far. However, as much as I enjoy being able to make unique resin blanks, I'm feeling a bit stifled in the creativity department. While I can pick cool color combinations to use or insert unique embedments, but the blank making process invariably ends up being almost entirely random in terms of swirls, patterns, design, etc. I'd love to be able to make more predicable designs and have more control over the resin and how the end result will look once the pen is turned.

As I've been browsing the internet, it appears our pen-making forefathers had a pretty good grasp of making cool pen material beyond single color or random swirl designs. Celluloid or cellulose acetate often appears to be film wrapped around a mandrel, so that's not much of an option, but I'm seen materials such as vintage galalith (french casein) with clear, intentional designs in solid rod form like these:

220267
220268
220269
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Does anyone have any idea how these solid rod patterns might have been created and whether modern resins could be used to predictably (within reason) create similar designs? I've seen other vintage material that looks like colorful chipped plastic, mixed, and re-compressed into blocks or rods, but these are quite different and intriguing.

Thanks in advance!
 
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Dalecamino

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I've wondered the same thing for years. I just imagine it's a trade secret, protected by registrations, and patents. Just a guess, it looks like some type of injectors are used to create the patterns.
 

jttheclockman

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How I am sure is a trade secret. But Exotic Blanks has some imitation materials such as casein and other swirl patterns you may want to check out.
 

Marko50

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Throw your hand in with the "Tube-In" crowd! There is unlimited potential for creativeness, bound only by your own self imposed limits. As far as making unique, repeatable patterns with colored resin, a lot of that has to do with the temperature of the resin itself, how set it is and the timing of how you mix different colors together (I'm probably preaching to the choir here). Using the temperature of the resin for determining when to mix them can yield some spectacular results, at least in my own experience.
 

hokie

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Thanks to everyone who've replied so far.

I figured the process was probably quite involved and proprietary, but I'm holding out hope some kind of vintage plastics manufacturing historian could confirm some of the details and that they're not lost to the ages. I have some ideas in mind to try out, but any head start in a certain direction is always welcome.

I am quite familiar with tube-in casting and I think it's a nearly limitless method for kit pens. Unfortunately, I've made the transition to kitless pens lately and I'd like to be able to fashion a pen in any shape, size, or manner without worrying about the tube interfering or limiting my options. Even if I didn't convert to the kitless process, I think I'd still find value in making blanks that can be used for any kit if I ever wanted to share or sell what I make.

I am learning the nuances of gauging temperature/time in the resin curing process which is why I was hoping to get some insight into the galalith process and maybe figure out what the consistency of the fluids were when being cast and what tool/techniques were used.

I'm not giving up any time soon and I look forward to more ideas. Thanks again!
 

hokie

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With normally being in rod form, I wonder if it was extruded.
I thought the same thing and this page might support that theory with an image of a round galalith extrusion on the left side of the page, but I just can't help but see the end products that I posted and feel like they're far more *fluid* looking than anything that would be solid enough to be forced through a hole. Apparently it takes months for the stuff to dry and so I have to imagine it needs to stay in a mold to stay so perfectly round. I'd consider they turned it round from a thick sheet, except that some designs have a pinstripe effect radiating from the middle. That *has* to be something created and cured in a round mold I imagine.
 

Curly

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I'm guessing the striped stuff would have been extruded with 2 colours being done at the same time. Kind of like an icing nozzle inside another so when the two were forced and drawn out they formed the fat piece like the picture and then subsequently stretched or rolled into thinner diameters (think sugar candy canes) as needed depending on the intended end use. They may have been laid into a supporting mold to cure.
The other patterns I have no idea but would love to learn about.
 

jalbert

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Check this out for a bit of info on the manufacturing of celluloid blanks.


It’s much different than resin pouring, as sheets of putty like material are essential pressed and formed together, and manipulated to create various patterns. I am not sure these type of patterns would be easily replicated in modern resins that we (small penmakers) have access to.
 

hokie

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Check this out for a bit of info on the manufacturing of celluloid blanks.


It’s much different than resin pouring, as sheets of putty like material are essential pressed and formed together, and manipulated to create various patterns. I am not sure these type of patterns would be easily replicated in modern resins that we (small penmakers) have access to.
That video is great. I’m surprised I didn’t see that earlier. If only certain resins allowed for such workability!
 

hokie

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Hello again!
Since I first posted, I have been playing around with resin and pigments and I wanted to share a minor success I had recently.
Here is a blank I made that exhibits a twist pattern through the length of the rod. It's not perfect, but it is definitely not random swirls!
I'm looking forward to trying out different techniques to really dial in the control over various aspects of the appearance. I wish the picture quality was a little better, but I think you get the idea (ignore the last 1/2 inch or so at the end, that's where things got a little wonky with the resin)...
220997


Anyway, that's my proof on concept that the mica powder can be manipulated, in a way! Lots more experimenting to do!
 

MRDucks2

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When I was experimenting with Liquid Diamonds I noticed it had various levels of flexibility from demold through full cure. Not sure if those properties may be helpful to you, but they are likely common to the epoxies.


Sent from my iPhone using Penturners.org mobile app
 

hokie

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When I was experimenting with Liquid Diamonds I noticed it had various levels of flexibility from demold through full cure. Not sure if those properties may be helpful to you, but they are likely common to the epoxies.


Sent from my iPhone using Penturners.org mobile app
Yup, I've been experimenting with pre and (somewhat) post cure manipulation of the liquid diamonds and I'm finding that when it gets past a syrupy stage you can make things happen. Fast setting resins would be really tricky at that stage without a ton of anxiety.
 

dogcatcher

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A while back, I watched a few You Tube videos about making vintage looking buttons. Since I have seen this thread, I have searched and searched with no luck as to the videos that were on You Tube that I watched. So off of memory. The resin was poured in sheets and then cut into strips and then run through a dowel maker like machine to make the rods, these were then sliced into button sized thicknesses. The next steps were automated using turret tyoe cutters and collet chucks working in sequence. .

The gist of the above story was the making of the blanks in sheets and how it looked like antiqued bone or horn when it was in it's final product of a button. There was very little info on the making of the blank, but again I was not paying attention to that so much as I was curious about the collet and the turret set up.

This is not the video I am looking for, but it does show some info that I saw before.
 
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