Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Incredible materials : Ultra dense plastic - Malleable at just 150F

Ham radio folk have been home brewing, inventing and crafting before most Makers were a gleam in their parents eye but that doesn't mean we can't learn from those industrious Maker guys. One area that is receiving more and more attention has been new and innovative construction materials.
Most of us are familiar with the concept of cutting a plastic chopping block up to make insulators but what would you do if you needed to create a molded part or something more complex? Injection molding is expensive for one off parts and anything more complex than drilling a hole also requires a substantial investment in machinery.
A new material that goes by several names (Shapelock, InstaMorph) is malleable at just 150 degrees Fahrenheit (66 degrees centigrade) and cools to an ultra-dense plastic similar to nylon.
It can be molded with your hands when heated and machined with low speed tools when cool.  I couldn't find specific details but I imagine it has similar dialectic properties to nylon which would make it suitable for a wide range of radio and electronic applications. Perhaps you'll be the first to add this material to your arsenal of home brewing tools?
Check out the demo below which shows how easy this material is to mold using simple tools or just your hands. You can get Polycaprolactone under several different brand names such as Friendly PlasticInstaMorph or Shapelock from a number of different suppliers or search for it on Amazon.