How much mold rubber do I need?

Estimating the amount of material needed for a project can be a difficult task. Not having enough material or having too much left over is not only frustrating, but costly. To assist you with these calculations, we are happy to provide estimation calculators.

Mold Making and Casting Calculators ›

There are a number of variables to consider including complexity of the model (varying dimensions, configuration, undercuts, draft, etc.), type of mold being made (2 piece poured block vs. 3-D brush-on), type of mold rubber being used, etc. The following will serve as a rudimentary way to mathematically estimate your material requirements for making molds using rubber that is poured (such as our PMC®-121 Series) and rubber that is brushed on (such as our Brush-On® Series).

Making A Mold Using Rubber That Is Poured over A Model

To illustrate, we will assume that our model is a cube measuring 3" wide by 3" long and 3" high (7.6 cm x 7.6 cm x 7.6 cm). To hold both our model and the rubber, we will need a containment field or box that measures 4" wide, 4" long and 4" high (10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm).

Easy Method

The easiest way to estimate your rubber requirements (by volume) is to place the model in the containment field and pour water up and over the model. The amount of water used represents the amount of rubber you will need. Be careful to remove all water and thoroughly dry model and containment field before pouring rubber.

Calculating Requirements By Weight

To estimate the amount of rubber needed, we will calculate the volume (cubic inches) of rubber needed to make the mold. This value, using the specific volume for the type of rubber used, will then be converted to weight of rubber required.

  1. Calculate volume of box holding the mold: 4" x 4" x 4" = 64 cubic inches (1,048.76 cubic centimeters).
  2. Calculate volume of the cube: 3" x 3" x 3" = 27 cubic inches (442.45 cubic centimeters)
  3. Subtract the volume of the cube from volume of the box to get total volume of rubber that you will need to make the mold: (Step 2 - Step 1) = cubic inches to make mold. 64 in³ - 27 in³ = 37 cubic inches (606.31 cubic centimeters). 37 cubic inches (606.31 cm³) represents the volume of rubber needed to make the mold.
  4. The next step is to convert the volume value (37 in³ or 606.31 cm³) to a weight value: pounds or grams. To do this, you need to know what your mold rubber will yield on a cubic inches per pound (cm³/g) basis. The value you need to do this is called the "Specific Volume" and is included on every Smooth-On product technical bulletin under the "Technical Headings" section. For PMC®-121/30, the specific volume is 27.7 cubic inches per pound (0.962 cm³/g). This means that a pound of PMC®-121/30 will occupy 27.7 in³ of space.
  5. To figure the weight, the next step is to divide the volume of the rubber needed to make the mold by the specific volume yield of the mold rubber: 37 in³ ÷ 27.7 in³/lb = 1.34 lbs. (606.31 cm³ ÷ 0.962 cm³/g = 630 g). 1.34 lbs. (630 g) is the total weight of rubber that you will need to make the mold (Part A + Part B).

Pour On Blanket or Shell Molds

Blanket molds are usually made by pouring rubber directly over the model after having set up side walls to provide desired mold thickness. The model is covered with clay to a desired thickness. Then it is encased with a hard shell or mother mold. The clay is then removed and the rubber poured into the cavity to fill the void left by the clay.

Tip: The volume of clay used to cover the model directly corresponds to the volume of rubber needed to make the mold.

To Estimate the Amount of Rubber

  1. Form clay into a cube and calculate the volume of the clay. (Volume = Length x Width x Height)
  2. Using the methods described in the above examples, convert the volume of rubber to weight of rubber needed.

Alternate Method

  1. Weigh the clay. (Example: 37thinsp;lbs. / 1.36 kg.)
  2. Because modeling clays are generally more dense than mold rubbers, we must correlate the specific gravity of clay to the specific gravity of mold rubber. Most oil-based clays (plasticine or Chavant® clays) have a specific gravity of around 1.5 g/cm³. The specific gravity of PMC®-121/30 mold rubber (found in technical bulletin) is 1.04 g/cm³. Correlation Number: 1.04 / 1.5 = 0.70
  3. To equate the amount of rubber needed with the weight of the clay, multiply the weight of the clay by the Correlation Number: 3 lb. x 0.70 = 2.1 lb. (1.36 kg. x 0.70 = 0.95 kg.) This is the amount of rubber you will need.

Brush-On Mold Calculations

Our goal is to make a brush on mold of the cube (used in our example above) by brushing a 3/8" (1 cm.) layer of Brush-On® 40 rubber over the entire surface area of the cube with the exception of the bottom of the cube that is resting on the table. The mold will be an open face mold with 5 sides of the cube covered with rubber.

Tip: For complex brush on molds divide your model into sections and then calculate the surface area of each section separately, then add them up to get the total.

  1. Calculate surface area of cube that will be covered by rubber:
    • Area of each side: 3" x 3" = 9 square inches (58.1 cm²)
    • Total area: 5 sides x 9 in² = 45 square inches (290.3  cm²).
  2. Calculate volume of rubber needed by multiplying the surface area of cube by the thickness of brush on mold: 45 in² x 0.375" = 16.88 in³ (290.3 cm³)
  3. Using the same calculation as our previous example, convert the volume value to a weight value (pounds or grams): 16.88 in³ ÷ 23.7 in³/lb = 0.71 lbs. (247 g). This is the total weight of rubber that you will need to make the mold (Part A + Part B).

What is the yield for one and 5-gallon kits of brushable rubber?

Refer to the FAQ article: How many square feet will a unit of brush-on rubber cover?

This FAQ article is offered as a guideline and offers possible solutions to problems encountered during mold making and casting. No warranty is implied and it is up to the end user to determine suitability for any specific application. Always refer to the provided Technical Bulletins (TB) & Safety Data Sheets (SDS) before using any material. A small scale test is suggested to determine suitability of any recommendation before trying on a larger scale for any application.