Friday, February 16, 2007

An industrial arts education

In the course of my stay in Davao, I've picked up several new skills which have very little to do with computers. Thus far, I've learned t-shirt printing, silicon molding, polyresin casting, and fiberglass manufacture. I consider this my remedial classes in the industrial arts, something I was so poor at back in grade school.

What's the use? you might ask. What's it good for?

T-shirt printing everyone knows about so I won't go into more detail. But silicon and fiberglass deserve a bit more explanation.

Silicon molding and polyresin casting is used to reproduce figurines at a small scale. It's amazingly accurate. Given a sculpted model, you first make a mold of it from silicon rubber. It's messy and slightly smelly work as you're working with a glue-like substance.

After the silicon mold hardens, you can start casting replicas in polyresin. Polyresin is a lightweight plastic-like substance. It starts out as gooey treacle, but with the addition of a hardening agent, it solidifies to its final hard plastic form. Thus, you can produce replicas of the same dimensions and almost the same level of detail as the original.

The process is great for reproducing three-dimensional artwork such as figurines, statuettes, picture frames, and decorative items.

For larger and more heavy-duty components, there's fiberglass manufacture. Fiberglass follows the same principles and uses almost the same materials as silicon molding. The difference is in the fiberglass reinforcement, which makes for a very sturdy and very flexible end product.

Fiberglass molds and casts can be made of large objects such as tables, chairs, roof sheets, and even boat hulls. Fiberglass can also be made into sheet boards which can be cut, drilled, bent, and shaped. It will neither rust nor rot. It's a superior replacement for both wood and steel.

It didn't take long for me to learn the basic techniques for these methods. Each class took two days. Practice, though, is another matter.

Davao is fortunate to have the Pangkabuhayan Center, a small private training outfit that teaches these industrial arts -- along with built around cooking, catering, events management, laundry shop management, reflexology, and several other ideas with strong business potential. Rates are quite affordable, and they also provide continuing business advice for their students.

I couldn't help but think how much Dumaguete would benefit from something like this. The resulting variety of products would be simply tremendous, if only to bring us out of the decrepit clay industry. Think of the possibilities for souvenir items. Think of the possibilities for boatbuilding. Think of the possibilities for a new design for tricycles.

Maybe it's something for the combined DTI and DOST to look at.

(As for me, I only went into it to make toys.)


  1. Hi Dom, where is this center located at?

  2. It's at Dona Segunda building along CM Recto.

  3. hey dom.
    good morning
    been trying to contact you.
    both mobile phones not working.
    am in dumaguete staying at bethel.
    if you are in town too, can you ring me with your new number?
    roger chua