Manufacturing methods

There are many ways of making crafted toys and figures, depending on materials, functions, and other details of the design.

Cold casting, Spin casting

Cold casting. For resin material, product is usually cast using silicone mold, polished and painted by hands. Sicone is probably the cheapest material for molds; but it is limited to situation where high temperature and pressure are not required, so-called "cold-casting", like that of resin or pewter.

Of course, silicone mold is not durable; an average silicone mold is usually used for 50-200 castings, depending on complexity of the product, so multiple molds are often needed in normal production. In addition, silicone can be aged, especially after used, meaning that in new production, new molds are required. silicone-mold
Spin casting also uses silicone mold; the difference is that the mold is mounted on a spinning fixture during production so the centrifugal force would help filling up the cavities so forming the castings. This method is typically seen in casting pewter and other low melting temperature metal alloys, especially thin pieces. spin-casting

Injection molding, roto-casting, and blown molding

Plastic product is made by either injection molding, roto-casting, or blown molding mold, with injection and rogo castings the most common used. Here are some highlights of each methods, more are discussed in this page.

Roto-casting (or rotational molding) can achieve seamless product surface with relative cheap molds (in low quantity), but it is only applicable for making certain shape and hollow products.

roto-casting
Injection molding is more effective and more accurate manufacturing method than that of roto-casting, but it would leave products with mold seams given two or more pieces structure of the mold, as well as other possible blemishes due to heat in casting, especially with large size of parts injection molding
Roto-casting is usually used in small quantity and certain application (smooth surface, for example), while injection molding is more cost-effective and more trouble-free in large quantity production
Blown molding (or blowing molding) is a method of applying high pressure air from inside of the pre-heat material and expanding it inside-out against the enclosure molds so to form the product. Blown molding is not as accurate as that of injection or roto-casting but is ideal for making bottle-shape products. Blowing molds are usually two-piece set, so it will cause mold seams on products. blown molding
Sometimes two or more methods may be used together for making different parts of a complicated product, or for lowering production costs.

Spray painting, pad printing, silk printing, decal transfering, and hand painting

Spray painting is a painting technique where a compressed air gun sprays the coating onto the surface of a product which is covered up by a spray mold, with only the desired patten exposed. The most commonly seen issue with this method is, of course, paint spread, which is a problem usually caused by poor design and making of the paint mold, as well as the consistency of the blank pieces themselves. spray-painting
Pad printing is like stamp inking; it actually also uses rubber pad, the only differences are, one, it is on a precision machine so more accurate; two, instead of making the printing pattern onto the rubber pad, it's designed on a steel mold. In addition, since it is operated by machine, it can print as many as 8 operations in each setup, meaning 8 different colors. Due to the working space limit of the machine, however, pad printing is usually used for printing small color designs, such as logos, letters, and thin lines. pad-printing
Silk screen printing is best compared to newspaper printing press, only it's much simpler in toys manufacturing. Silk screen is usually used for thin and flat products and different colors are actually printed with different molds (screens), so it's not suitable for complicated colors. silk-screen-printing
Decal color transfer or Decaling is like sticker, just that, in manufacturing, only the colors (the paints) are stayed on the product; in addition, product colors are more complicated, which make designing the decals difficult. There are several ways of decaling, including wet applying, meaning we apply the decals with water in order to achieve the smoothness. Color transfer is best used in small complex color designs; whenever possible, however, try to use spray painting or pad printing over transfering as the latter is not as strong. decal-color-transfer
Hand painting is most commonly used in resin product and all hand crafted items. As hand painting requires skills, it is one area you can judge the quality of a resin product. Besides the necessity, hand painting can achieve some effects that other methods can't; shading, for example, is not possible by spray paint or pad print. Hand painting is perceived more valuable than do machine painting; of course, we meant good painting. hand-painting