When toothpicks and marshmallows just won't do
September 26, 2017 2:16 PM   Subscribe

The lab where I work wants to buy some sort of molecular model kit. There are MANY options out there -- far more than I anticipated when I agreed to help find one. It's also not totally clear what sets are compatible with what other sets/brands. Any suggestions?

It doesn't need to be super high end; in fact, cheap is better (though it does have to be a plastic snap-together thing and not just twigs stuck into styrofoam balls, etc.). Like, if there were an Oriental Trading catalog for science supplies, that would be totally fine, but I'm not finding anything quite like that.

The catch is that we need it to be expandable. So basically I'm looking for a brand/vendor/source (or set of compatible sources) that sells both the basic kits (that come with a bunch of connectors) and also bulk packs of individual atoms that will connect up with the basic kit (eg, we want to be able to get 100-packs of, say, tetrahedral carbon).

I've been scouring amazon, ebay, etc., and am getting a lot of results for model kits, but it's difficult to tell without a lot of digging what kits will be compatible with what parts. Moreover, for a lot of the cheaper entries, it seems like they're just using generic images that don't even match the description text, making it even harder to determine what you'll actually be getting.

Any assistance in de-mystifying this product realm would be greatly appreciated!
posted by aecorwin to Science & Nature (4 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A general geometry/science/fun tool kit that can be used to model many molecules: Zome tool - also readily extensible. See here for their bits on chemistry/molecules in particular.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:46 PM on September 26, 2017

Yes, Zome is great. I remember buying special packages with many of the short blue sticks because I needed them for building molecules for a chemistry demonstration.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 6:06 PM on September 26, 2017

Best answer: I love HGS molecular models and they have a nice selection of atoms. They have various specialty sets suitable for labs. I'm not sure, however, that any model brand is compatible with any other from a different maker, and I'm not sure it's possible to buy specific atoms in bulk. For HGS I would just pick up some extras on eBay if, for example, you want some more carbons.
posted by 8603 at 6:40 PM on September 26, 2017

Best answer: When I was studying organic chemistry, the Molecular Visions brand by Darling Models was incredible BECAUSE it didn't have the cumbersome balls and sticks. People who inherited the ball and stick models were actively jealous. Little bit of a learning curve, but by far the best to represent complex molecules and give you an idea of the angles of things (like this Amazon customer shows here).

Also looks like they do commercial ordering on their website if you need more than just one individual kit.

Note: Not really compatible with other brands and if you need a triple bond, you may be out of luck.
posted by idealist at 12:14 PM on September 27, 2017

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