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Reproduce Almost Anything : Product Review:

One of the biggest challenges for inventors is the fabrication of parts to actually create your invention. Faced with the prospect of presenting my product at the 2005 Staples Invention Quest finals, and wanting to have at least some semblance of a prototype, I spent many hours whittling soft wood and carving high density foam, and discovered I would have been a great success if my product had been an indistinguishable lump.

Reproduce Almost AnythingReproduce Almost AnythingSo it was with great interest that I picked up "Reproduce Almost Anything With Silicone Mold Making" , a video/workbook combo available from many online retailers. The promise of the title alone was enough to make me think it might be of interest to even the most casual inventor, modelmaker, DIY nut or Mythbusters wanna-be. Turned out I was right.

What you get between the video and the workbook is a very quick primer on the craft of silicone mold-making and a walkthrough of a sample project from original piece to fabricated duplicate. In fact, the primer is almost too quick, with some basic concepts glossed over. But if you're willing to be patient, you can easily learn more than you ever thought you would about DIY fabrication. Like any other pursuit involving potentially harmful chemicals, it's probably worth the extra time.

It's important to note that the video and workbook of Reproduce Almost Anything are complementary. The video often refers you back to the workbook for additional details, and the walkthrough in the workbook is meaningless without the video demonstration. The workbook also contains a Source List of all of the different chemicals and supplies you'll need to create your own mold, and then fabricate a piece of...whatever it is you're making. A quick visit to some of the websites listed reveals enough additional information and instructions to get you started quickly.

By far, the biggest surprise to me was how straightforward the whole process is. Aside from the silicone and plastic chemicals, most of the supplies can be picked up at a local craft store pretty inexpensively. Depending on how much of the molding and pouring chemicals you need, plan on at least $100 for those. The host of the video, Ben Ridge, walks through the process very deliberately, and in no time he'll have you wondering what it is around your house that you want to reproduce.

It is important to note that, as the title suggests, this kit on Reproduce Almost Anything only deals with the process of reproducing an existing object, NOT creating one from scratch. However, several of the resources contained in the workbook have additional info and supplies for creating an original piece that you can use to create your mold. No more whittling!

The video was made in 2000, so you'll need to double-check if certain supplies are still available, or if potentially newer and better ones exist. But the bottom line is that if custom fabrication is the missing piece of your inventing or creating process, this is the video to get you started...it's easier than you think!

Tim Whitney
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