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We have a purchase for 300 units. We expect some of these to arrive next on Apr 26, 2014.

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Description: Polymorph is a non-toxic, biodegradable polyester with a low melting temperature of about 60°C (140°F). Prototype plastic parts can be made by simply heating the plastic beads in hot water until they turn clear and then kneading them together and shaping by hand. When it cools it becomes a nylon-like white plastic. Polymorph can be re-used by simply re-heating and re-shaping. Plastic beads are supplied in a re-usable plastic container.

So what do you do with it? Robotics, small-parts prototyping, arts/crafts, there's almost no end to what you can do with this stuff. We had a blast playing with it here at SparkFun. Try embedding LEDs into it for a cool diffuse glow effect.

Note: This no longer comes in the plastic containers, sorry!  We will update the pictures.

Note: Although Polymorph melts at around 60°C (140°F), it is more workable at hotter temperatures around 180-200°F.

Weight: 1000g

Features:

  • Non-toxic, biodegradable polyester
  • Low melting temperature of about 60°C (140°F)
  • Useful for many type of robots
  • Can be melted and re-used over and over
  • Supplied in a re-usable plastic container

Documents:

Comments 41 comments

  • a poor man’s 3D Printer?….AWESOME!!!

    • … Like a boss!

    • What about a pastry bag full of this, attached to some stepper motors? :D

    • The challenge, of course, is being able to shape and mold it with the same kind of precision as a 3D printer would. I’ve described solid object models with OpenSCAD that I know I could never hope to tool by hand.

  • I haven’t tried it yet, but reading the “How to Use” document really makes me want to!

    “Do not add too much water, stir well to become the state diagram, they can be the next step”

    “Did not survey the place, you can use iron to amend or beautification”

    • Yeah, the document has some funny lines in it. We decided not to edit it. We have a video tomorrow showing polymorph in action.

      • “At this time can be recruited Jiedao cut into the profile you want to”

        I have not seen Jiedao since graduate school, so I’ll do it myself. Honestly, this is one of the funniest bits of English-hash that I have read in a long time. Still, I admire the effort. I wonder what my notes run through a translator would read like in Mandarin or Japanese?

        Polycaprolactone is a neat material. It works well if you iterate, by approximating the shape you want, re-heat, and refine. You can use this to make a silicone mold and cast the final part in epoxy or whatever you like, too, so you can keep using the polymorph to make masters.

        I have read that one can sand and machine polycaprolactone, but I have not yet tried. I have a mill handy, so I will try and then post my results in the forums.

    • http://xkcd.com/868/ look at the rollover text. Diamond-shaped diagrams FTW!!

  • I just used my Polymorph to straighten my eyeglass frames without going back to the optician. I molded some Polymorph around the jaws of 2 different small pliers, pressed the still-soft Polymorph onto the part of the eyeglass frame I wanted to hold. Worked a treat without breaking the lenses or the frames (and no scratches to the frames either.

  • Funny side note on creating your own plastic pieces, I’ve read a few tutorials online on how to build the tools to vacuum form your own plastics. The hilarious part is, most of these tutorials show a 13 step process, 12 steps of creating custom plastics, step 13 in most of these tutorials is dressing up like a stormtrooper??

  • Hey SF team, I don’t know where you buy this but in Germany the 1000g package costs only 17€. A 5000g package is available for only 80€. And you don’t have to pay taxes for it because of the Kleinunternehmerstatus of this shop.

    Check it out at http://www.plaast.de/

    Sometimes its cool to live in germany :)

  • A quick warning about the packaging: the grains are small enough to work their way out of the gap in the tub lid during transit. After careful unpacking, I poured them from the shipping box back into the tub.

    Probably putting put this in a gallon zip-lock bag would make it a little less messy.

  • ‘ Try embedding LEDs into it for a cool diffuse glow effect. ’ - This sounds neat. Anyone have any pictures or videos of this?

  • A photo with a ruler next to it would be nice. 1000g isn’t as much as you think. That’s a pretty small container although it looks larger with the handles. Anyway… should be fun to play with. I have a LOT of people at work waiting to try it out for fixtures.

  • Great product, but forget any “precise shaping”: when melted, it is just too soft. I tried to model a Beagleboard doghouse: it was funny, but I did not get what I was dreaming.

    Note that when above a certain temperature, the grains become almost transparent (and later get yellowish).

  • AKA PLA?

  • This is a pretty tough plastic, more similar to nylon than ABS in my opinion though. Because of the similarity to nylon, I tried to make a gear out of it by making a silicone mold and pressing this stuff into it. This was a 32 or 48 pitch spur gear with something like 9 to 11 teeth. It worked great for about 30 seconds and then it melted… It would probably work much better for bigger gears that didn’t spin so quickly.

  • The low melting point means you can make molds with 3d printers (such as a makerbot) and then force this plastic to conform to that shape without the mold melting.

  • The documentation doesn’t seem to mention the fact that the material expands slightly when cool, and contracts when hot. Also, the substance doesn’t “melt” at 60°C (140°F) it softens. It’s melting temp is much higher. It also seems to stick to fibrous material like wood; so be advised. I use simple wood molds to make parts which I then soften and stick together. It’s drill able however you if done at a high speed it will just soften around the drill bit. If left to long it will then harden around the bit (removing a sharp drill bit from this stuff usually gets the top layer of fingers cut). If you can get a screw into the hole before it hardens, it will create a tight fitting thread around the screw. Try as I may I’ve not been able to get a molded part to actually break.

  • gallahad, to do a face mold, check out http://www.smooth-on.com/

  • Has anyone tried putting dye into the mix?

    • I don’t know if you are just interested in DIYing this, or if you want colors for your application, but it is also sold for craft use under the brand name Friendly Plastic in many vivid and/or metallic colors http://www.amaco.com/shop/product-775-friendly-plastic-assortments.html

    • They say that it can be painted after the part is made.

    • Plastic coloration is usually done via adding 1-2% by weight of a high colorant granule, then mixing (via a double screw system), extruding, and chopping that extrusion back into little granules. Dyeing may be possible, but you’re going to figure out a way to mix it in while melted very very thoroughly.

  • Can this be used to make a mold of a human face?

    Something like coat the face with Vaseline(especially eyebrows and such) and use this to make a mold of your face?

    • I’ve done this with a different brand of the same stuff. I didn’t get super details like alginate or plaster of paris would give, but it was much easier, and it was definitely recognizable as a face.

      Heat it up, roll it out to about 1/8 inch thick and about 10 inches in diameter, lean back and gently mold it to your face like a big pancake. Let it cool. Cold water helps if you’re up to that.

      You might want to make a small hole over the mouth area, but I found the fit loose enough that wasn’t necessary. And of course in an emergency you can just peel it off and start over.

  • This product is so cool, I have a friend (student of plastic arts) that will have much interest on this product :D

  • If heated to a high enough temperature will this stuff become liquid enough to be used in an injection mold system? (such as see below) http://www.lindsaybks.com/dgjp/djgbk/inject/index.html http://www.lindsaybks.com/dgjp/djgbk/injatt/index.html

    • Apparently you can. Here’s a link to a poster from someone doing so because, apparently, PCL is bioresorbable. Nice data and graphs of tensile properties, and diagrams of the molds and apparatus they used, too. http://web.mit.edu/3.082/www/team1s/pres/Team_Template.pdf

      • Being biodegradable means it will essentially rot over time. I can see this being a feature or a bug dependent on application. I want to try press-forming it into heated molds, too. For a lot of applications this would be much less complex than injection molding, though I would like to see someone do that on a hacker scale, too.

  • Does anyone know how sturdy this stuff is once it has set? I’m not thinking about load-bearing applications, but if I need an undulating curving skin, is it tough enough to hold up to everyday sort of wear?

    • Some people use this to make model aircraft landing gears. The stuff never breaks.

    • I believe it is. It’s often compared to nylon, and mechanical properties are very similar to generic ABS strength values from the few sources I’ve found. Just don’t put down your coffee cup or leave it in a car on a hot day!

  • Will Sugru stick to Polymorph? The write up for Sugru says it will adhere to most plastics.

  • I’ve been using Shapelock (Same stuff, different brand, more $$$) for a while and it’s some amazing stuff! Great for making brackets to hold odd shaped parts and for fixing kid’s toys. If it starts hardening too much while I’m shaping it, I hit it with my hot air gun for a couple of seconds to soften it up again. I also throw it in a bowl of cold water to cool it off faster after shaping. Like shown in the video, it’s pretty stretchy when soft but it’s easy to cut with some heavy duty shears.

  • I’ve used this (well another brand) to prototype a robot chassis and it came out great.

    The ONLY gotcha I noticed was I let a slightly curve piece sit out in my car when it got cold and noticed it significantly bent itself even more. Not a show stopper by a long shot but something to watch out for.

  • Knowing the mass is great for planning rocket launches, but for modeling something in plastic, I really need to know the volume available.

    • Polycaprolactone has a density of about 1.145 g/mL at 25°C, so a bit less than one liter.


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