It's like epoxy clay, but easier.
February 22, 2012 12:00 AM   Subscribe

Please help me remember a crafty-type material I saw in a web article a month or two ago. It's some kind of plastic that comes in pouches, in various fairly deep colors, and apparently permanently hardens some time after being exposed to air.

I've been searching online, and it sounds a little bit like 'epoxy clay', which I might fall back on for my little project if I can't figure out what I saw last month. But epoxy clay needs mixing, where the stuff I saw appears to sets up permanently some time after opening, without being mixed or heated. I don't think a thermoplastic will suit, as I plan to use this outside, in direct sunlight in a fairly hot climate. I suspect it would soften again during the summer. I'd rather have something that sets once, and is permanent.

It looks like epoxy clay would work, so if you have no idea what I'm talking about, any recommendations for a good brand would be appreciated.

The specific features I'm hoping to find:

Shapable by hand, ideally bare hands, but I can wear gloves if necessary
Something roughly the consistency of Play-Doh, or maybe a bit thicker, enough to hold a shape on its own.
Adheres well to plastics... metals too, if possible.
Dries hard, stiff, and strong. 24 hours is okay. 3 hours would be perfect.
Largely immune to sun, wind, and water.
Preferably, comes in white or off-white.

From what I can tell, epoxy clay should do all these things, but if I'm wrong, please let me know. I'm not sure the substance I saw actually suits that list of needs, but since I can't remember what it was, I can't check.

For reference, the article I saw the Mystery Substance in might have been about a PC case-mod of some kind. There was a picture of the stuff that had been shaped around a camera to give it a light screen... it looked fairly silly, but functional.

Thanks in advance for any pointers you might have. I hope someone out there has a better memory than I do, or at least has some expertise with epoxy clays. :-)
posted by Malor to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Sugru? I'm not sure it meets all your demands, but it is all over the net these days.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:03 AM on February 22, 2012

posted by ottereroticist at 12:07 AM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Looking at Sugru, it seems cure time is highly dependent on thickness. The company says cure time is 24 hours at 3-5mm, i.e. less than 1/4 inch. I think that sort of limitation would be typical with any air-curing material.

Also, Sugru is rubber. If you want a hard / rigid plastic, you want epoxy. Thicker parts and faster cure times also point towards epoxy.
posted by jon1270 at 2:04 AM on February 22, 2012

If you want something very hard, try polycaprolactone, which is sold under a variety of names. It's a thermoplastic, but it's going to be fine in a hot climate, as it remains hard up to 60C. You soften it in very hot water, shape it, and it sets quickly to a nylon-like hardness. It comes in the form of small beads. It's a slightly translucent white in colour.

It's biodegradable, but won't degrade much in normal use. But it doesn't really stick to stuff by itself. For that you'd want epoxy putty.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:19 AM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sugru is really close. Maybe that's even it. But I think the stuff I'm looking for was mentioned in the same article with Sugru, as some kind of competitor/alternative solution. ottereroticist's link was in my browser history, and I'm absolutely sure it was linked out the article in question, but I'm thinking that's not the final answer.

Anyway, with that link, I'll go search Google for 'what links here', and see if I can find the correct article in reverse. :)


If I do end up with an epoxy clay, does anyone know where I can read up on them so I understand what I'm buying a little better? I've used regular epoxy many times, so I understand the mixing process. I don't need knowledge THAT basic. But I'm wondering what differences exist between the many brands.
posted by Malor at 2:57 AM on February 22, 2012

Was it this?
posted by jmsta at 3:26 AM on February 22, 2012

Was it Model Magic?
posted by ocherdraco at 4:34 AM on February 22, 2012

There is something called sculpy, but you have to cure it in a toaster oven if you want it real hard.
posted by rockindata at 4:54 AM on February 22, 2012

Epoxy putty does exactly what you ask. It dries somewhat brittle but is sandable and adheres to almost anything so long as it's clean and has a bit of texture. Just go down to the hardware store, buy some, and experiment.
posted by unSane at 6:22 AM on February 22, 2012

posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:49 AM on February 22, 2012

A lot of articles about sugru (FormFormForm always uses a lowercase s in the product name) mention Formerol in them.

sugru is the consumer friendly brand name, while Formerol is the technology behind it.
posted by aristan at 8:00 AM on February 22, 2012

Vitrium resin clay? It doesn't come in different colors--you color it yourself by kneading paint/ink into it. From what I've read, the main difference between Vitrium and epoxy clay is that Vitrium will shrink a little as it dries.
posted by corey flood at 9:26 AM on February 22, 2012

Hmm, well, I can't find the article I'm thinking of, but sugru is at least closely related, so I'll best-answer the first two replies. And it looks like epoxy clay would be a better solution, so I'll head off to the hardware store and pick some up.

Thanks, everyone. :)
posted by Malor at 11:39 AM on February 22, 2012

posted by elizeh at 7:54 PM on February 22, 2012

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