What is Alginate??
Alginate is the extremely safe molding material most often used in LifeCasting. It is made from various food grade chemicals including alginic acid– an organic polymer derived from the stems of seaweed. When alginate “sets”, these polymers cross-link to one another using calcium ions as the glue, forming a flexible solid similar to rubber or cheese.
The alginate powder is mixed with plain water to form a thick liquid. It can be as thin a pancake batter or as thick as cream cheese depending on the type of mold you want to make.
This liquid is applied to the skin and in a few minutes (determined by the formula) the alginate “sets” to a rubbery consistency. Alginate is Hypo-Allergenic (safe) and does NOT heat up when setting. When the alginate is removed from the skin the surface of the alginate has captured every detail of the surface of the skin right down to the fingerprint. This is the mold.
To produce a lifecast, a suitable casting material must be poured into the alginate mold. When the casting material “sets” or “hardens”, the alginate is removed and an exact duplicate of the body part has been produced. See Hand Casting Procedure.
Accu-Cast makes a variety of alginate formulas. We have fine tuned the properties of our alginates to make them ideal for a wide variety of jobs. Bucket molds, layup molds, small jobs, large jobs- we’ve got an alginate that will work.
Alginate can be used for other types of molds as well. It is widely used in Prosthetic Medicine in the manufacture of artificial arms and legs. It is also used in General Moldmaking in the production of prototypes of new products.