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Plastic that changes shape due to hot and cold water ?

thunder-bolt's Avatar

Hi

I need to move on to my first prototype.

I need some kind of plastic that would get rigid when applying
cold water for a few minutes and soften back up to original shape when under hot water for a few minutes.

All I need is for the plastic to stay rigid and hot for no more than 3 minutes tops and yes this part is crucial to the entire design.

What I need is a plastic with shape-memory properties .There’s so many different types of plastic and
this is my first time working with plastic or anything for that matter LOL.

I need to use plastic to keep the cost down as oppose to Shape memory alloys being plastic is cheaper.

This part of the prototype/shape is very simple and small and I could do it myself but being it needs to be in the memory state
that I need when heated I can’t do it.. So I would have to get someone to mold it into the shape I need . Seriously the shape is not complicated at all .

Can someone recommend a plastic supplier who deals in memory shape plastic who will also give it the memory/shape I need ?

Also ..does this type of plastic exist that would change shape back and forth in minutes ?

I’m located in NYC if that helps.

Thanks so much :)

PS:New Member and really enjoying reading the forum.. :D

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richardyost's Avatar

Welcome to EN Thunder- bolt. I,m not sure that this will help you, but I work with jewelry, and we have a white plastic material that we call Setters Grip. It is very hard when it is cold, and when put into hot water, you can push an object into it and it will form an impression of the object that you need to work on. An example is; if I wanted to set a stone into a pendant, but had no way to hold the pendant due to its shape, I could put the setters grip into hot water, press the pendant into the setters grip, run cold water over it and it would harden, holding the pendant, so that it wouldn’t roll around, as I set the stone. If you pulled the pendant out, which may need to be heated first to do that, it would leave an impression in the setters grip. You could also heat and hand form the setters grip, if you could stand the heat. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen Ha Ha. This material will retain the shape as long as it is not heated. If heated it does Not have memory, where it would return back to its original shape. It must be physically reshapped to another shape.

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jnikoley's Avatar

Richard would this plastic break easily when heated?

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corsaire's Avatar

This looks like the best match to the properties you describe:
http://www.inventables.com/technologies/shape-m...

I haven’t worked with any myself, and have no guess how the price scales for manufacturing quantities. The setting temp at 160 sounds like a good range beyond tap water, but still easily manageable in a home with heated water.

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imajane's Avatarname search

I had trouble with that link, Greg. Maybe this will work better. This hand moldable plastic is amazing. You just heat up water in a pan to about 160 degrees and this becomes a gooey putty. Pull it out with tongs and then start to play. It gives you plenty of time to mold and form it into whatever you want before it hardens. If you don’t like the result, you can melt it over and over and over. A box of beads about the size of a big mac is 8.50. Good luck!!

http://www.inventables.com/technologies/hand-mo...

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corsaire's Avatar

I bought the moldable plastic a couple months ago (InstaMorph) works great.

The link I had was for a memory polymer, but EN boards garble the dashes. Let’s try this:
Memory Polymer

Or got to http://www.inventables.com/ and search for Memory Plastic. The purplish one in water has the characteristics described.

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imajane's Avatarname search

that worked!
don’t you just love that site?

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corsaire's Avatar

Yea, it’s a great site for stirring the brain. Only problem is a corollary from “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” which might be “Don’t treat everything as a nail just because you have a new hammer.”

When I see something really cool I start trying to invent a problem to fit the solution. Though there are likely unthought of discoveries in that direction, they seem to be much more likely to not have a “true” market for them.

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imajane's Avatarname search

You really have that right. I do that too, I confess. I can’t help it… but it’s still fun.

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thunder-bolt's Avatar

Thanks so much for the replies …very helpful and I love the inventables link !

I do need 2 types of plastic for my prototype and will be buying the hand moldable plastic also ..Thanks for link .

One question…I’m still confused about.

The memory shape needs to be the same everytime when heated and I’m confused on how to
accomplish this part of the process .

Here’s what the summary is for the memory shape plastic:

“Summary
This particular plastic is made using a shape memory polymer. It can be readily formed and stretched to any new shape just by using your hands, but when you warm it to about 100 °F (38 °C), it quickly returns to its “programmed” shape.”

How do I programmed it to a programmed shape myself or is this part of the process that I cannot do myself ?

The programmed shape is crucial to the entire design.

Thanks so much everyone..I really appreciate it :)

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corsaire's Avatar

Welcome, hope it helps…
From their longer description:
“The plastic can be easily “programmed” by bending it into a shape, wrapping it with aluminum foil to hold that shape, and then submersing it in hot water (about 160 °F or 71 °C) for a few minutes.”

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thunder-bolt's Avatar

Dooohhhh

How did I miss that..not like me at all.

Thanks so very much !

Oh yeah :)

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inventbot's Avatarg8_badge

I suggest that you check out ShapeLock (http://shapelock.com/).
When it is heated it turns clear and gooey, so it’s not going to return to a former shape. For that reason it may not be what you are looking for but nonetheless it’s a great material for fashioning shapes. When it cools it is tough as heck and it can be reheated at any time to reshape it.

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thunder-bolt's Avatar

Thanks James…My PT has other parts that don’t need memory shape so shapelock would work..Going to check out the link.

Thanks !.

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richardyost's Avatar

Jan, it’s funny I haven’t used the setters grip for months, then today I had to use it. I put it into a pot of hot water on a gas burner for about 30 seconds. When I pulled it out I was able to push this plastic into the shape that I wanted, which was pretty much flat. Then I pushed a bracelet into the white plastic. Sometimes I may need to push some of it around the object to help hold it in place. Then I run cold water over it and it hardens to a point that I can no longer move it. Then I can use a punch and hammer and form silver or gold bezels over a stone. It will take a beating and I never have broken it. When I’m done, I put it back into the hot water for about 20 seconds, use tweezers that are about 12" long to remove it from the hot water, and pull the bracelet or other object from the plastic. It can be used over and over again. It seems very much like the product in this link that was shown earlier – http://www.inventables.com/technologies/hand-mo... . The product that I use also comes in small plastic pellets. They are as white as milk, about the same diameter as cooked spaghetti, and about 3/16" long with flat ends. They first need to be melted together into one object. I have not found an easy to do this in hot water without the little pellets going all over the place. Although we refer to it as Setters Grip at work, That may or may not be it’s real name. And it’s possible that it may be much more expensive in a jewelers supply catalog, as many things are.

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vonhuber's Avataree_badge

Love Shapelock, use it in many of my prototypes. It’s easy to machine, sand, paint, etc.

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kespenschied's Avatarg8_badge

Would it be an option in your prototype to use two materials – like a molded rubber exterior to provide the “memory” for the shape, filled with something like ShapeLock to provide the rigidity at lower temperatures?

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sampeacock22's Avatar

I recomended Shapelock i also use this in my projects.Its really works……..

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