Do I need to encapsulate silicone?

I've been watching the tutorial on how to run silicone appliances, and I have a question.  

Do I need to encapsulate it?
    I've seen videos that show masks being cast without it, but I'm still trying to figure out if it is necessary, or needed, for what I am doing. I'll be using my silicone as a skin for an animatronic.  There seems to be a lot of differing information.

These are some of the materials I plan on using:
Smooth-On Dragon Skin 20
Silc-Pig Silicone Pigment
Psycho Paint Base
Ultracal 30

If more info on my materials is needed, let me know.


  • For an animatronic skin you would not want to encapsulate the silicone. 

    Silicone makeup appliances also don't always have to be encapsulated, but encapsulating them has some nice advantages for painting, adhesion, using softer silicones, etc.

    But for animatronics you would just use a platinum silicone and silicone paints as you have listed out.  You may also want to reinforce areas of your skin with "power mesh" 2-way stretch fabric.  I find areas like the mouth of an animatronic, or around the neck (where it stretches to slide over your underskull) are great places to reinforce.  

    I hope you can share your project with us here.  I'd love to see what you are making!

  • Adding to what Chris suggested:

    The need for a "barrier" on your silicone is not as much of a neccessity as it used to be in years passed. The silicones available today are actually surprisingly easier to use than ever before.

    As such, the use of an encapsulate is now a matter of preference. For a silicone skin to be used for an animatronic, you'll likely will want a skin as soft as possible. The less resistance the skin gives to the mechanics' movement, the easier the whole animatronic will work. Usually, the softer you make the silicone, the more likely the skin could be sticky. You CAN use the same silicone you are casting with as the barrier, (but, not softened anywhere near as much as the rest of the silicone skin). Or, you could use other barriers like "New Baldies". If you use only silicone, you will need to use silicone-based paints, ONLY. If you use something like New Baldies, you can paint and finish the skin(s) with nearly any material you normally paint with. You are NOT limited to only silicone paints. Also, having a barrier may make handling, and attaching the skin to the animatronic much easier.

    Here are a couple of things that may help you.

    First, consider the possiblity of breaking the skin down into sections, (kind of like you would for a prosthetic make-up). I'm not talking deliberately breaking it down into so many pieces that it becomes a problem. What I am saying is don't be afraid to make it in as many components as you feel will benefit the project as a whole. Areas that might see more wear, may need to be replaced more often. If say for example, an eyelid should tear or wear out, would you rather replace JUST that problem eyelid, or would you prefer to replace the ENTIRE skin, (which would require more silicone, and thereby cost more). This can also simplify making the overall skin firmer, where you don't need much movement. And, you can still have certain areas of great movement be extremely soft & pliable. This would make the process of running the skin easier, because you can exactly pinpoint where the critical spots are. The downside of doing it this way is it may greatly increase your mould-making efforts, simply because you will need to make more moulds. Only you can decide which works best for you.

    Second, should you decide to use barriers on the silicone skin(s) and have any delaminating problems, there is an available fix. Todd Debreceni is selling a special "primer" that can make silicone adhere to [nearly] anything. A little of it goes a long way. But, it can really help as a deterrant to a VERY aggravating problem.

    Above all, do a few test-skins. This will allow you to personally see what works best for your personal uses. The advise we give you here, at best, will only be annecdotal. What may work for one or more of us, might not necessarily work for you.
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