Custom manufacturing gets a lot of attention because of the novelty involved with the process. There is something amazing about seeing a fully formed product emerge from a bath of SLA material, or a bust of Beethoven being carved out of foam by a relentless CNC Mill. However before 3D printers and laser cutters there was Mold-O-Rama. Mold-O-Rama is a vending machine that uses an injection molding apparatus to create a small plastic souvenir in a matter of minutes. The aesthetics of the machine are amazing, perfectly capturing the look of the time with post-war optimism about industry and progress.
BillySeven has an enthusiastic fan page tracing Mold-O-Rama history, even preserving the company’s letterhead.
Mold-O-Ramaville has the most complete collection of model photos. You have to love the 50’s and 60’s youth marketing where you could get stock characters like astronauts or more exotic selections like your own little thermoplastic Buddha. More Mold-O-Rama figurine images are available here, Everything from a bust of Abe Lincoln to a wombat. Seriously, a toy wombat. It was a simpler time.
Mold-O-Rama in Action!
Even after watching a couple hundred hours of How It’s Made, this is fun to watch. All the descriptions of the process talk about how hot the part is when you pull it out of the machine, hot enough to burn skin and offgassing plastic fumes simultaneously. I’m amazed these things are still allowed to operate in an age of hypervigilant parenting. It is also nice to know we can hold our own against Japan in a “quirky vending machine” contest.
Buy a Mold-O-Rama
If you want to buy a Mold-o-Rama, Starting at $14,900 they are available from Replication Devices. This company is also working on an intriguing, and eponymous, “Replication Device” that sounds like a next generation Mold-O-Rama. These wonderful machines are still working at Zoo’s and other locations across the country.
In an age where we live increasing amounts of our lives online it is heartening to see people excited about atoms and the way that the things that surround us are made. Here is hoping some mass customization entreprenuer brings the Mold-O-Rama back to life with modern technology.