Prototyping initiated with the task of identifying the best process by which the digital file could be produced into a physical master tile. Given that the master tile would need to be durable enough to produce several molds, we narrowed down prototyping to two basic methods. We initially started by looking at milling the master tile but found that the detail was not accurate enough for what was ultimately needed and the surface texture would be counter to the over-all aesthetic of what was desired for the final tile. Our second attempt to was to utilize a 3D printer and the direct “3D additive” rapid prototyping technology proved to be much more consistent with what we needed for the detail.
While we started with a ¼ version of the tile just to show Mr. Twaddle the true physical interpretation of the surface, it was clear that while the material procedure was correct, the need to produce at a 1:1 scale would demand printing in parts. This added a complexity to the digital work and the physical master tile production. The 9 parts were printed in such a way that seams were hidden and locking grooves were placed on contiguous parts to ensure proper alignment. Once the parts were assembled 4 primer coats were applied to ensure surface continuity and to seal the 3D print texture.
From the 3D print we could then build the frame that would allow take the pour and set-up for the final silicon mold. After letting the silicon molds set up for 24 hours we were able to remove the original master tile and retain the negative for our casting. Through some initial trail and error with mixtures of several different materials we were able to obtain a promising result.