Are we getting any closer, would be a more apt statement. More trials to replicate besser block walls have been conducted and while I will leave the verdict of success up to you guys...if nothing else it has been fun so far!
It was very heartening to get the feedback following the last post and a very sobering experience as well. It is always amazing how with hindsight and third party comments, the subtle flaws (or room for improvement and refinement) are pointed out and then re-examined. I have to admit that the original block facing did resemble "face bricks" and a way of softening the faces needed to be achieved before production could take place.
This time as planned, I ran up a set of moulds machined from cast acrylic and in this case I thought it wise to use clear material so I could keep an eye on things as they progressed. The moulds are basically a two piece affair so that when the DAS is almost dry the finished "block panels" can easily be released from the mating parts. When I am finally happy with the overall method, a larger set of moulds will be manufactured allowing for a few panels at a time to be completed.
Upon close examination of the latest trial there is still some minor lateral "ridging" of the blocks. Certainly this ridging is not as pronounced as the first trial and this improvement is a combination of laser settings and the choice of material for this trial. At the end of the day the laser process does have limitations and will never give the excavated surface finish of glass. My ever suffering wife entered the debate with a fresh set of eyes and suggested that the best idea may well be to finish sand the face of the completed components with a very fine grade of wet and dry before colouring the faces...I keep reminding myself that I married the right girl!!!
Also in this trial I have also eased up the depth of the mortar joints and will also take on board the sage advice from Iain Robinson (refer last post and comments) and look at a vey light slurry finish coat of the blocks during the construction phase.
In the end I would suggest that some of the factors I am labouring over will not even be easily visible on the completed structures and possibly what I am trying to replicate may well be readily available in plastic...but the main aim is to vary my buildings so that they don't all resemble Walthers Cornerstone kits and to also experience as many facets of the hobby as I can, while all the time challenging myself...
And so... I have included some shots of the latest attempt and in my haste to evaluate the sample I decided to dry brush the DAS clay with a base colour before it was completely dry hence the mottled appearance of one or two shots... I also note that the photos display the blocks as rather dark with the wash applied...they certainly are lighter in reality...
Enjoy your weekend!!!