A few summers back, my girlfriend Jen started making her own, all natural dog soaps to sell at one of our local farmers’ markets. To begin with, she used soap molds of paw prints that she found at an online retailer. The feedback from pet owners was really positive and her soaps began to work wonders on many dogs with irritated skin conditions.

With the success of her soaps, Jen was eager for the next steps in the development of her new dog soap brand. After finalizing the soap shape in our CAD software, we generated the above initial 3D concept rendering. Excuse our early crazier colors not so natural color palette LOL. Once the design was finalized, we had a pretty good idea of how to make a flexible and universal soap mold. We submitted our paw print shape to a 3D print supplier. Please see a 3D rendering of the part below:

We decided that silicone would be the best material for our molds. Since this project was the first time we’ve made silicone molds, we asked for advise from one of our collaborators Nathan Gabriele. When he makes silicone over-mold prototypes at Lifetime Brands, he uses Smooth-On – a leading manufacturer of silicone and other mold making compounds. After a few hours of investigation, we decided to go with their OOMOO line of 1:1 mix ratio silicone rubbers. The OOMOO line cures faster and provides high detail without the side effects of air bubbles (without need of vacuum chamber) in the final mold.

GAME PLAN: Once the high detailed plastic soap part would come back from our prototype supplier, we would cut a PVC plumbing pipe to an appropriate height to where the plastic part can hang on the top edge without hitting the bottom (allowing a 3-4mm bottom gap).  The PVC pipe will then be adhered and sealed with silicone onto a plywood board. We will pour the silicone into the PVC cavity (gap in between soap part and PCV pipe and apply downward force to the soap shape. Hopefully, the silicone will fill up to right below the inner rim edge. The silicone will cure for 6 hours and should leave us with a circular silicone mold with a Pawfect Suds soap shaped cavity. We will then dublicate the process until we have enough soap molds to make one full batch of soap.

UPDATE 5/12/2011 – The Pawfect Suds paw print shape for our silicone mold finally arrived today from Shapeways! We’re really excited to get some OOMOO silicone compound and start experimenting with making actual “negative” silicone molds from this “positive” soap shape. Once we do, I will update this post with more info and new photo’s.

UPDATE 5/18/2011 – OOMOO Silicone arrived yesterday! I played around with the compound for a few hours and created a circular mold cavity from a 3″ rubber plumbing clamp cut down to the proper height. After a test run and minor adjustments, I managed to create a perfect “negative”  silicone mold. Now we just need to make  more molds and finally start making some new soaps!

UPDATE 5/21/2011 – After making a few more silicone molds, we’ve finally had a chance to make some soap. The project has turned out great and Pawfect Suds now plans on opening it’s online store within the next two weeks. On a limited budget we’ve managed to create a home made, yet very professional grade soap for dogs that can be produced freshly per demand.

Jen popping one of her first Pawfect Suds soaps out of the silicone mold.

This really shows today’s capabilities when combining quality 3D printing technology, easily available silicone compounds and an unique dog soap recipe. A successful natural product overhaul.

This is the Pawfect Suds Pumpkin Spice soap bar, enriched with lathering Shea butter and Vitamin E for a healthy and moisturized coat.

The essential Tea Tree oil benefit those pesky bugs and irritating hot spots. Infused with refreshing scent, this  bar will leave your dog smelling fresh and skin soothed.

The Oatmeal N’ Honey bar is unscented and great for dogs with allergies and sensitive skin.

The Lavender bar gives your dog the sweet aroma of gentle Lavender with the soothing effects of Shea Butter and Vitamin E for a super soft and shiny coat.