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"Freehand" Molded Silicone Domes

Rubber domes with less tooling and cheaper goo

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#26 Buffdaddy

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 08:40 AM

I guess if it makes you feel any better I could start ragging on buffdaddy if he starts posting homemade airguns again, but that's about as close as we're going to get.


UNNECESSARY SHIT DERAILING CONVERSATION. I have a hard time detecting internet sarcasm.

EDIT 2: These criticisms apply to my button dart attempt, as well, those were posted after testing, but before use in war, when they started flying apart in hoppers. Didn't consider bending the darts to see what would happen. Which reminds me: I need to try elastic thread to see if that holds up well enough for hoppers.

Point: Use at a war first.

Edited by Buffdaddy, 29 August 2012 - 10:48 AM.

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#27 Langley

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 10:18 AM

Oh geeze. I was mostly just busting your balls, dude. I think contest deadlines were a factor, so I'm not really that worried about it. I mean war testing first and making a writeup out of the second batch/revision/whatever is the standard I hold myself to, which is why there hasn't been a suicide trigger/thumbslap writeup. In any case we are completely 100% off topic now, and as long as I'm not closing this thread we may as well entertain the possibility that someone may want to try these tips themselves and ask questions or share their results.
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#28 ferball

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 11:24 AM

The reason I go with slugs is ease of production and relative safety.

I think if you want to make some new revolutionary dart design it needs to be easy to make with materials readily available at Walmart or Home Depot. Tools list should not have anything more exotic than a drill or dremel. That being said I want my 10 year old kid to be able to make them as well so tight tolerances are a bad idea. So from a production stand point slugs vs. silicone slugs are still ahead.

From a safety standpoint I don't ask for much. I grew up in the days before airsoft so a couple pumps on a bb gun was considered "safe". But common sense and "how bad does it hurt at point blank" has ruled out some designs I have considered, most notable a design involving sheet rock screws. So in a slug vs. silicone, I don't see any overwhelming safety issue that trumps the extra production considerations.

I like the effort and ingenuity and the design has some promise, but I don't see it as a slug replacement yet.
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#29 Meaker VI

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 01:43 PM

I think if you want to make some new revolutionary dart design it needs to be easy to make with materials readily available at Walmart or Home Depot. Tools list should not have anything more exotic than a drill or dremel. That being said I want my 10 year old kid to be able to make them as well so tight tolerances are a bad idea.


This sums up how I feel about dart making pretty well. I'd add that it should be cheaper than ~$0.10 per dart, and the time per dart shouldn't be significant.

Unfortunately, nearly all of these cast-head darts fail the tooling and time tests. Yes, I *could* make a mold for some of them, but I'd be making a mold for something that may or may not be widely-accepted or even work, it'd take quite a while to make a significant number of darts unless I go all-out on the mold and make it huge, and I'd be working with something I'm uncomfortable working with (silicone casting).

I've liked many of the bought options I've seen recently better - darts using snap-on screw head covers and drywall anchors, reusable foam paintballs, and shotgun wads - as they stay close to the price range, are faster to make than slugs, and do more to eliminate user-error in construction. These molded darts seek to eliminate user error in safety, a poorly constructed dart will still be safe, but make construction errors more likely and make it so everyone needs to learn totally new skills. The examples I've given are still metal-free and at least as 'safe' as slugs, though the optics of shotgun wads might be worse (Though I don't think many regular people would actually be able to identify a shotgun wad as such, I certainly hadn't seen one and I've fired shotguns often enough - the things just disintegrate when fired).

Don't get me wrong though Kane, I really appreciate that you and others like you are seeking to find a new, easy-to-replicate, safe dart for the community. Keep at it, but maybe look at options that aren't all molded.
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#30 snickers

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 06:23 PM

BACK ON TOPIC.....
I have made some domes but mine are much "taller". I made the mold a month ago, so I never actually knew the exact height of your domes. Mine are roughly .300". I am going to be making a new mold with the correct bit and depth instead of with a normal drill bit. Because I made my domes/cones so tall, they were much harder to remove from the mold and looked alot like cylinders. Otherwise this idea is GREAT and I can't wait till I finish drilling my new mold. And as far as you selling pre-made CNC'd molds, I'm all in. They also seem mass produce-able with multiple molds. I don't care if anyone thinks the darts I am replicating are shit and suck balls, so far they work great and your missing out. Flame on.
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#31 Elmo1234

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 12:58 AM

I wish we could go back to a time when domes where widely used. Why? They get better range and speed in flight, and do they really hurt that bad? I use Single BB's, and they hurt a bit more than slugs, but not a ton more. And Single BB's just have a tiny sting when hit from around 30 feet away from my UMB, which shoots 110 feet with them, with practice domes are pretty nice, but you mess up one here and there, slugs are really easy to make, they just don't suit my play style, what I mean is that they don't shoot as far as domes, but are crazy accurate. I like domes, and have never been injured by domes, but have been injured by slugs. Why is that you may ask? Well slugs develop closer range fight, this isn't bad but because of the close range battles that slugs can cause, you are more likely to get welted or bruised. I don't hate slugs, that is just my opinion on them.

Edited by Elmo1234, 30 August 2012 - 12:59 AM.

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#32 Zorns Lemma

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 01:36 PM


Cool story bro.

Dome darts are nice, but the problem is hot glue domes will fall off when poorly made (and every SoCal war has tons of awful darts remaining on the field) and then you're shooting people with weights.

Also, domes with metal weights are a lot more suspicions than even poorly made slugs, as long as the slugs use a #6 washer. Obviously, silicone domes offer the best balance of appeasableness with performance, but no one has made ones that perform at par with slugs in terms of ease of use and ease of production.
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#33 Ryan201821

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 02:21 PM

Holy shit people, what the fuck. I don't think this became a Slug vs. everything else discussion.

I'm not capable of forcing you or anyone to use silicone darts, nor would I if I could. I just plan to encourage their use in the midwest, and to ban hard material darts at the wars I host. Then, once the midwest has universally adopted those standards, you guys on the east coast can start using them and pretend that you supported them all along.

Use what you want; nobody has forced anyone to use our darts or demanded that the community switch to whatever we're using. We're just providing alternative methods for darts that do not contain hard materials. Some people think this is important, some don't. For the ones that don't, continue using slugs. Your wars can have whatever rules they want. If Kane or I want to move towards using soft material darts, I don't see how that affects you or the east coast. Kane should be entitled to his ideas, whether they are awesome or suck balls.

As of right now, you are basically spamming the forums. Posting a dart design that hasn't been tested at a war is only marginally less ridiculous than posting an ms paint diagram of a homemade you haven't built yet. Twice you've posted new threads about darts that had barely cured when you posted them, which objectively failed as darts when you actually tried using them at a war. Given that this has become a pattern, and that there is actually an appropriate place for this sort of thing, you can consider this your first warning. In the future, I suggest one or more of the following:

  • Waiting until you hit upon something that works so well at a real nerf war that most other attendees actually want to make some for themselves, and then posting a writeup.
  • Designing a dart or glue-able dart-tip for your possibly imaginary target demographic, having it mass produced, and offering it for sale.
  • Leveraging your incredible charisma and charm to start your own nerf forum for people who share your bizarre priorities.
  • Rage-quitting in favor of NRes

Really? Spamming the forums, that's pretty ridiculous. As Kane mentioned, many people post write-ups on homemades that probably don't work 100% at one point in time. I've personally witnessed this several times, and it probably happens more with modifications as well. I didn't ever think it was a criteria that it had to be war tested before you could post about it on the forums. If this were the case, I think every blaster I've created would've been posted 3-4 months later as we don't go to wars nearly as often as we used to. You're also pretty much screwing over people who don't live near major nerf communities, who may rarely go to a war. What are they supposed to do? Post once a year? I just don't understand why make a big difference if it's tested at a war, or if it's tested at your house.

I'm pretty sure homemades don't have this rule, so why should it be constrained to darts?

Every dart type I have posted has been tested quite thoroughly, and known problems have been disclosed. The nature of hoppers is basically magic, so it's not uncommon for a dart design to work perfectly for a week, then not work at all the next week (or day, or month), and then work perfectly again the week after. Anyone who's spent time trying to develop better darts for hoppers has experienced this or not tested their darts enough.

All the dart designs Kane and I have developed have been test fired thousands of times at his house. Like Kane said, the hoppers we use basically work on magic. We've been working on creating our own hoppers that have no problems feeding almost any dart. If we want to develop this and use special darts in special hoppers, I don't see a problem with that. If anything we are working on creating something that works even better than both slugs and the conventional wye hoppers that are being used today. Just because it doesn't fill your agenda doesn't mean everyone else in the community hates it and doesn't see the benefit of working towards creating a better dart.

I would rather see people post their failed designs so we can learn from other people's mistakes and use their knowledge to help us decide what to do, and what not to do in the future. There are plenty of great things about any of the darts that we've used and helped us learn what to do next, and what we should never do again. It's pointless to see people do the same mistakes when they could be using our knowledge to help build off our ideas. This is the whole point of the forums.

I think it's fair to tell you that from this point on, you should war test your darts before posting another entirely new thread about a design that hasn't been proven to consistently work in most people's blasters. There is a more appropriate place for photos of what I would consider to be a work in progress. There are already two comprehensive writeups for dart designs that are about as useful as those shotshells everyone went nuts for last year. There are two more new threads you've posted in the last week, one of which could have been a reply to one of the many existing silicone dome threads, and one which could have been a reply to an existing tape wrap dart thread (or either of them could've been posted to the photos thread instead).

If you want us to post new dart ideas in the pictures thread, other people should be allowed to discuss stuff about it as much as they want. This is the opposite theory of the pictures thread in both the other forums, so let Kane have his threads. Each were separate ideas and deserved their own threads.

The volume of dart threads has increased since the new DB forum launch. That was not my intent. My intent was to remove the ambiguity when choosing a forum to post new threads, and to make the existing info easier to find. Since we're only about a week in, I don't think it's unreasonable to lay out some ground rules as we go along. My first new rule is that people habitually posting designs that haven't been war tested will get one warning before I start closing their threads. This is a bit different from homemades because people usually don't get past one crappy homemade writeup before they figure out what they're doing wrong or give up. I guess if it makes you feel any better I could start ragging on buffdaddy if he starts posting homemade airguns again, but that's about as close as we're going to get. If you want, you can look at it as a derivative of the 'no more nitefinder writeups please' policy.

This was completely my intent when I suggested we do this. The only real existing information on darts is the Slug write-up, and that's pretty much it. Maybe we should delete every dart thread and only have that thread?

All of my darts do work consistently with everyone's blasters, provided they are not hoppered. I agree that "provided they are not wye-hoppered" is a HUGE catch for a lot of people, myself included. Still, you must remember that there are still people who like homemade darts and who do not use hoppers, or, are willing to build hoppers that don't require special darts. If it is your intent for this to be a conventional-PVC-wye-hopperable-darts and barrels forum, you should label it as such.

This is a very, very valid point. In no instance was there ever a disclaimer that we could only post darts that work in conventional wye hoppers. For every other circumstance, these darts work flawlessly in singled barrels, breeches, turrets, RSCBs, etc. Of course most of us think hopperability is a very important criteria, but there is no rules against such darts. Special hoppers are probably the answer to a lot of feed related issues, and we're working on that. We've already created hoppers using conduit 45s, and they work great in that.
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#34 Draconis

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 04:25 PM

I know that I have very little bearing on the subject of dart manufacture, but I have to agree that as far as prototyping is concerned, failure threads can be just as useful as success threads. Especially when illustrating to new members what NOT to do, which I'm sure we can all agree on, is monotonous. That said...
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Kane, you have two calls holding. Line one is Zero, and he wants his darts back. Line two is the '90s, and the tennis shoes they loaned you are past due.
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#35 lech

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 08:21 PM

Uh.. As i recall Zero darts were micros with domes, which had a thin collar of craft foam wrapped around them to give them a mega dart fit?
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#36 snickers

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 04:39 PM

I HIGHLY suggest everyone makes some themselves.

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#37 snickers

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 01:47 PM

Sorry for the double post.

The factory edge (mainly because it's straight)is perfect for wiping the molds.
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#38 Zorns Lemma

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Posted 30 July 2014 - 01:51 AM

Posted Image

I've been working on trying to nail the perfect technique for doing these and I'm not quite there yet. Some findings
  • Mineral spirits does not really act as a solvent for the silicone despite being the ingredient in many silicone cleanup solvents. Minerals spirits seems to instead just causes the silicone to swell and lose density
  • The DAP acrylic caulk with silicone added is a terrible and useless product by itself. I've been mixing it with pure Silicone as an accelerant for uncertain and nonmeasured results
  • The two best tool for working with these molds are a paint scraper and a $2 box of 100 walmart sandwich bags. The scraper cleanly levels off your molds and you can use each of the bottom corners of the sandwich bag like an icing bag to squeeze out silicone in a much faster and more controlled manner
  • Using corn starch as an accelerant has been unsucessful for me. Even with tiny amounts of corn starch the material becomes unworkable extremely quickly after mixing
  • Just kneading silicone in the bag seems to accelerate its curing (probably by incorporating more air) and reduces the curing time from a little over a day to about half a day
  • Seriously, you should be squeezing your silicone into a bag and then cutting a corner and squeezing it out like icing; things go 2-3x faster and you use way less silicone

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#39 shmmee

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Posted 30 July 2014 - 08:19 AM

Pro tip:
For anyone who wants and off the shelf blank holder - cookie cooling racks with 1/2" spacing works fantastically well with no modification needed. Holds hundreds of darts reasonably straight for filling. It's a little discovery my Mrs. wishes I had never made.

Posted Image

Zorn -

How's the bond strength on your domes? I'm still working with a small group on the development of gumdrops 3.0 and our big challenge has been bond strength and dart longevity. The heads kept falling off of our 2.0 versions. Following a tip from another nerfer - we've found rubber cement to be a fair adhesive (Finally! Something that adheres to silicone!!!) and have started priming the holes in our blanks with it. Adhesion has significantly improved, but we haven't been able to experiment much further with that development. I would love to actually see a little foam come off with the head if pulled hard enough to decapatate.

*I haven't noticed any swollen loss of density (that would be interesting to weigh and find out how much weight (if any) is sacrificed) but I have noticed significantly softer heads and easier fill if I mix in some mineral spirits with the silicone before adding corn starch.

*Not all brands of silicone cure faster with corn starch. Rather than make a list of what works, I simply suggest going to walmart and buying the $3 opaque tube with the black lettering. It's half the price of most other silicone caulks and cure time is accelerated with the addition of corn starch. It reeks - but it works and it's cheap.
Posted Image
*I completely agree with you on the sandwich bags! My Bans were failures (too light), but filling was fast and easy squeezing the silicone out of a bag.

Edited by shmmee, 30 July 2014 - 08:36 AM.

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#40 Naturalman7

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Posted 30 July 2014 - 05:06 PM

I've noticed that if you don't scrape right, you can end up with messed up domes. One side of bottoms of the domes can have too much silicone and they'll be crooked on the foam or the scraper can stick to the silicone and pull material out of the holes, ruining the bottom and even the sides of the domes.

Edited by Naturalman7, 30 July 2014 - 05:07 PM.

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#41 Draconis

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 01:43 AM

I've noticed that if you don't scrape right, you can end up with messed up domes. One side of bottoms of the domes can have too much silicone and they'll be crooked on the foam or the scraper can stick to the silicone and pull material out of the holes, ruining the bottom and even the sides of the domes.


I've run in to this myself, but have been able to compensate for it by adding a little extra silicone when assembling.

Shmmee, the cooling rack is a great idea. I am totally stealing it.

Regarding faster curing with the addition of cornstarch, all you need to look for is the warning that "Acetic acid is released during curing...". The other types which release ammonia or whatever will not react the same. That Walmart silicone is by far the cheapest I've seen, though.
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[15:52] <+Noodle> why is this so hard?

#42 mysterio

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 02:35 AM

I've noticed that if you don't scrape right, you can end up with messed up domes. One side of bottoms of the domes can have too much silicone and they'll be crooked on the foam or the scraper can stick to the silicone and pull material out of the holes, ruining the bottom and even the sides of the domes.


Another good way to combat this is to use 1/2" cpvc or a different, similar sized smooth pipe, and just roll over the molds. Has not misleveled any of mine yet.
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If two powerful is a problem then just go with one powerful. I guess this style of hopper will work even beyond three powerful..


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#43 shmmee

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 08:26 AM

I've noticed that if you don't scrape right, you can end up with messed up domes. One side of bottoms of the domes can have too much silicone and they'll be crooked on the foam or the scraper can stick to the silicone and pull material out of the holes, ruining the bottom and even the sides of the domes.

I've seen that happen to my gumdrops as well and just had a thought: What if a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper (since I'm all about kitchen tools at the moment) was placed on top of the mold and then scraped? It might be able to squeeze off the excess with out dragging un-due silicone out of the holes. It should be easy to peel the heads off the paper once cured.
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#44 Nerf Gra

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 10:48 AM

Parchment paper would probably work better. Its pretty much the same thing only stronger and impregnated with silicone as opposed to wax. Its pretty slippery stuff.
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#45 Draconis

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 12:24 PM

The problem with using paper over the top is that only cornstarch-laden silicone would still cure. Unless you used something like regular paper, so it was still permeable. That might actually solve some of the adhesion problems too.
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#46 shmmee

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 01:25 PM

*edit* double post. Sorry about that.

Edited by shmmee, 31 July 2014 - 02:31 PM.

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#47 shmmee

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 01:31 PM

The problem with using paper over the top is that only cornstarch-laden silicone would still cure. Unless you used something like regular paper, so it was still permeable. That might actually solve some of the adhesion problems too.

True! My earlier gumdrops have often used felt as a binding anchor because of the absolute death grip the silicone and hot glue formed with it. It was so painflully slow to cut out though, it killed the concept. Even pre-punched felt discs were tiresome. I'm not sure silicone will bond with paper. It was a good bond (but not death-grip) with denim. Denim is far more porus than paper, but stranger things have happened. Maybe we can back the heads on a paper sheet, soak the sheet of heads to strip away most of the paper and still have enough paper left to bond between silicone and foam? All we really need is something that will bond to both...heck maybe throwing a headed up felt sheet in the wash will be enough to separate the heads while leaving some felt to anchor too? I think I have a small sheet of gumdrop 2.0 heads somewhere. That just might be worth a try actually!
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#48 Zorns Lemma

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 05:02 PM

I've had almost no adhesion problems with my foam->silicone stems. Its possible that because all of my stems injects are mixed with the something that isn't pure silicone and contains some pretty toxic solvents that it is forming a better bond to the foam. Also possible is that using the plastic baggie I can really get all of the silicone mix into the dart blanks. The final possibility is that the foam I'm using (MHA Pink) is just denser/less porous than the beige you're using (from looking at your picture).

I've heard about using a combination of rubber cement and superglue to prime and adhere silicone to foam, but that seems like a very painstaking process unless you are molding your domes with the stems and then doing final assembly of just inserting stems into molds.

I might pick up a box of walmart Q-tips and rubber cement and a tub of CA glue and see if I can replicate this since I do have a stem mold.
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#49 shmmee

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 11:50 PM

I've had almost no adhesion problems with my foam->silicone stems. Its possible that because all of my stems injects are mixed with the something that isn't pure silicone and contains some pretty toxic solvents that it is forming a better bond to the foam. Also possible is that using the plastic baggie I can really get all of the silicone mix into the dart blanks. The final possibility is that the foam I'm using (MHA Pink) is just denser/less porous than the beige you're using (from looking at your picture).

I've heard about using a combination of rubber cement and superglue to prime and adhere silicone to foam, but that seems like a very painstaking process unless you are molding your domes with the stems and then doing final assembly of just inserting stems into molds.

I might pick up a box of walmart Q-tips and rubber cement and a tub of CA glue and see if I can replicate this since I do have a stem mold.


Beige foam is much more poreous, but oddly enough I've found a stronger bond between bare foam and silicone if it's more pourous. White foam had poor adhesion and amazon grey (very tight pours) had no adhesion at all. Our third version of gumdrops (gumdrops 3.0 - still mid development) is based around sticking a drilled blank in one side of a form and spackleing silicone onto the other side - filling the head cavities as well as filling the drilled blank - attaching the head to the blank as the silicone cures. The problem we've been having has been bond strength. Heads fall off after a few wars. Adhesion has been the last great hurdle preventing us from completing development. 3.0 construction really is as simple as drilling blanks, sticking them in one side of the form, spackleing silicone into the other, scraping off the excess silicone, dabbing a wad of dryer lint on top of the uncured heads (the loose fibers of the lint pull off and stick to the tops of the un-cured heads for perma-hopperability) and popping hundreds of completed darts out of the form once cured. Construction is stupid simple and crazy efficient, we just need the durability improved.

Zorn, I'd love to hear more about your secret sauce for stronger bonds! PM me if you're not comfortable discussing toxic mixes where younger nerfers might get themselves injured. If you can help us with that last problem, we should be able to finally wrap up development of a high rate of production metal free dart option!

Edited by shmmee, 01 August 2014 - 12:01 AM.

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#50 Zorns Lemma

Zorns Lemma

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Posted 01 August 2014 - 05:48 AM

The problem we've been having has been bond strength. Heads fall off after a few wars...

Zorn, I'd love to hear more about your secret sauce for stronger bonds! PM me if you're not comfortable discussing toxic mixes where younger nerfers might get themselves injured. If you can help us with that last problem, we should be able to finally wrap up development of a high rate of production metal free dart option!


My secret sauce just means that foam pulls off with the dart head, but dart heads still fall off after a few wars. I don't really care because slugs fall apart after just 1 war if the ground is wet at all (or sometimes fall off in the middle of the war) and glue domes have a lifespan drastically limited by trees.

I'm mixing GE Silicone II with DAP Alex Plus which seems to lower viscosity better than mineral spirits but contains such marvelous things as Formaldehyde http://www.dap.com/docs/msds/10002.pdf

Edited by Zorns Lemma, 01 August 2014 - 05:48 AM.

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