At the Gundam Fiesta Singapore 2009 last month, there was a section showcasing the progress made in the manufacturing of gunpla. I’m not well versed in the history of gunpla manufacturing so if anyone knows better, please comment and educate me!
From what I gathered, they used wooden carvings to make molds in the past. These molds would then be used to mass produce the gunpla. Basically, molten plastic will be poured into the mold and any trapped air bubbles removed (so you won’t get a divine runner). The plastic would then set and harden, ready to be popped out from the mold.
Wooden carvings used to make the mold.
Molds used to make molds.
With technological advancement, gunpla molds are now no longer made from wooden sculptures. About two years ago, I watched a video on the modern mold manufacturing process. Unfortunately, the video has since been taken off YouTube. If anyone can find the video somewhere, please let me know!
The mobile suit designs are edited prior to them being used as blueprints for gunpla. I believe that this is done to eliminate weak parts that might be easily broken. 3D artists will then generate 3D models using the blueprints as a reference. These computer-generated models are used to guide a precision laser cutter in the carving of the mold.
Ecopla Gundam RX-78 and Zaku
Ecopla is made from discarded materials from the manufacture of gunpla. Recycling is eco-friendly hence the name “ecopla”.
Injection machine scale model
Modern gunpla manufacturing is fully automated. I don’t know much about the process so I shall not delve further. If you have any information source, do share it with me!
Injection machine box
An astounding amount of technology is used and developed to produced better quality gunpla. In addition, creative talents are channelled to create mobile suit designs, engineer the articulation of the gunpla and to design the fantastic box art. The final effort is contributed by the end user (that’s you) to construct the gunpla and, for the more advanced modellers, airbrush it.
That’s why I love gunpla and I treasure each and every gunpla that I own.