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Cdaus writes: “I stumbled across this product while looking for a way to build a mold for an ‘ice luge.’  It’s truly amazing, and its uses are endless.  It’s a plastic which becomes malleable at about 160 degrees F.  Once cooled, it returns to a hard, nylon-like state.  The chemical name for this stuff is Polycaprolactone (I think), and I’e noticed that it’s offered and manufactured by several companies under different names.  One company called “Utili Plast” has an informative video on the plastic.  I’d highly recommend viewing this video to get an idea of potential uses!”

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Wow — I can’t believe we haven’t come across this before; it’d find a home in almost any shop.  This material essentially allows you to mock-up solid shapes without the difficulty of standard casting.  I’d love to say more about it, but I need to learn more first.  Look for more on this awesome find in the future here on TM.

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ShapeLock [Corporate Site]
Utile-Plast [Another Brand, With Video]
Polycaprolactone [Wikipedia]

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10 Responses to A Quick-Prototyping Material — No Ovens Required

  1. Wayne D. says:

    This is the same stuff used in the anti teeth grinding mouthpiece kits they sell at drug stores. You soften it up in boiling water for about a minute, dunk in cold water for a second, place it in your mouth and press it around your teeth. They are a bit more expensive than buying the granules it looks like, but the granules probably not FDA rated.

  2. Charlton C. says:

    I had to order some – this stuff looks *highly* useful!

  3. DennisL says:

    I don’t know about useful, but it sure looks like fun.

  4. Mark Bennett says:

    This came up on the Makezine blog a month or so ago:
    .

    I bought a tub of it, and my kids (ages 6 and 3) love to play with it. (I got the “Friendly Plastic” brand from the Compleat Sculptor: )

  5. Mark Bennett says:

    My links — to the Makezine blog article and the Compleat Sculptor’s order page — got lost.

    I’ll try again:
    http://www.makezine.com/blog/archive/2006/03/plastic_you_can_mold_in_your_h.html

    and

    http://www.sculpt.com/catalog_98/craft/craft.htm

  6. Warden Streets says:

    I bought a tub of ShapeLok about 6 months ago, and it’s like playdoh for grown ups. I haven’t built anything actually useful out of this stuff – so I can’t vouch for how durable it is over the long haul, but boy is it fun. It’s easiest to work with when right out of the package, when the plastic is still in beaded form. If you melt some of it, then let it cool into a chunk and re-melt it later it can be tougher to get it heated evenly all the way through. It seems durable enough to use just about anywhere, sculpt it thick enough and you can drill it. I’m sure you could mold it around a bolt and have perfect threads for a light-duty application too. Hot or Not? — Smokin’ in my book.

  7. Joel Haas says:

    Looks like “Friendly Plastic” which has been around for the past 10 to 15 years in toy/art store trade. Hope it’s come down in price with the competition.
    Overall, for making durable prototypes, though I still recommend Magic Sculpt or Aves water soluble epoxies at about $40 a tub.

  8. Leslie T says:

    This is great for repairing chidren’s toys! I used it just the other day to put the broken wheel of a “Hot Wheels” vehicle back together.

    Just warm up a little bit, press a small glob into each side of the broken wheel, shape as required, cool, and voila: instant hero.

    Sure, the patch will break again at some point but so far most of our other toys repaired this way seem to be holding up as well as this parent would expect.

  9. A-Rock says:

    I’m not very experienced with fabricating anything, but I found it very easy, and fun, to use the Shapelock. Literally just microwave a mug of watter and drop in the plastic beads. They turn clear when melted, so you know it’s ready to form.

    Plenty of handy uses, but you probably don’t want to use it to fix anything in your car engine or other place that gets hot cause it’ll melt again. The manufacturer says that the cooled plastic can be drilled, sanded, painted, etc.

    If you’re still not sure you’re going to like it, get the free sample of it here:
    http://www.shapelock.com/page3.html

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