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Imagine a material that’s about the consistency of plasticene, but it’ll stick to most anything, and overnight it cures into a solid, rubber-like substance that’ll withstand temperatures from -60 to 180 degrees C. That’s Sugru – which gets its name from the Irish word for “play” — and it’s the invention of a product designer who wanted a way to quickly modify existing objects to better serve her needs. It’s also the darling of the square-glasses crowd right now, featured prominently in Boing Boing, Make, and so on. But replace the pop-talk term “hack” with “modify” and you’ve still got what looks like a pretty valuable material in your arsenal.

The basics: Pull the Sugru out of its package and you’ve got 30 minutes to mash it around and form it into various shapes. Its makers claim that it’ll “form a strong bond to aluminum, steel, ceramics, glass, wood, and other materials including some plastics like perspex and ABS and rubbers like silicone and butyl rubber,” so you can use it to mount one thing to another, modify the shape of something, etc. Within 24 hours it cures to its final set, which is “flexible rather than rigid.” Once set, “it’s completely waterproof,” “easy to clean with soap and water,” and “durable in the harsh conditions of your washing machine and dishwasher.” You can also “remove it with a craft knife and then remove residue with fingernails and tissue paper” (at least on hard surfaces). Some of the uses cited at the company’s website include creating ski pole grips, ruggedizing a camera, modifying a water sprinkler, re-sealing the cooling system of a car, and re-attaching a dishwasher rack. The company reports that Sugru has a shelf life of about six months and isn’t currently certified safe for children or food use (though they claim to be working on both).

The story behind the company seems pretty cool as well, essentially tracking the creator’s development of the material during graduate school, failed attempts to partner with large companies to distribute the stuff, and eventual angel-funded launch of a small business to manufacture and distribute the product herself. It’s an interesting read.

Right now it looks like your best purchase option is to buy directly from their website. (They’re selling in just two stores in the U.S., one in New York City and one in Portland.) It comes in two options, each of which contains 12 “minipacks” of 5g bits of Sugru. For $18 you can have a multi-color pack, which includes white, black, blue, green, and orange, or for $20 you can have only black and white. (We’re not sure why black and white costs more.) You can also buy single-color orders of six packs for $12. Your order will ship within 3 days (they say), and the site says they ship “at cost,” which starts at around $2.40 an order.

What do you think? Worth ~$25 for a look? This strikes me as a great addition to the Plasti-Dip I already keep on hand.

Sugru [Company Site]

 

27 Responses to Sugru: Hand-Formable, Air-Curing, Magic Goo

  1. Regis says:

    There are folks who have claimed to make something sufficiently similar using silicone caulk and cornstarch
    http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-Your-Own-Sugru-Substitute/

    • G says:

      I’ve used the cornstarch and silicone recipe and it works surprisingly well.

      Now, I just keep wondering how much my husband would kill me if I used to to modify our rifle’s pistol grip.

  2. Angelbane says:

    id keep some on hand if it wasn’t for the 6 month shelf life. Ive wanted to get this stuff for a while but it is a bit expensive to have such a short shelf life.

  3. Taco says:

    This stuff is just thickened silicone.

  4. karen says:

    Sugru is great stuff. I’ve seen the Instructable for poor man’s Sugru. I think that and Sugru fill different niches. I use Sugru primarily for making small fixes to life’s annoyances. I don’t need much and the malleable, clean, non-gloopy consistency of Sugru makes it really convenient to use. I’ve fixed a pair of scissors my dog ate, replaced a missing rubber foot on the stovetop, and repaired frayed cables and earbuds with the stuff. My mom’s used it to make the nosepads on her glasses fit her properly and even fixed her sister’s favorite purse with it.

    The premium on the product smarts, but the product’s convenience and the liberating feeling of regaining control over all those little annoyances in life makes it well worth it to me.

    • G says:

      Why do you think the two are filling different niches? I mean, the corn starch/silicone is also clean, non-goopy, and extremely malleable. Even better, you can change the mixture to get slightly different consistency depending on the project.

      What makes it worth the premium on the brand name Sugru, that gives you control over the little annoyances in life, that the homemade stuff can’t?

      I haven’t tried the genuine Sugru, just the silicone/cornstarch. So what’s better about the heftily expensive variety?

      • Jake says:

        “So what’s better about the heftily expensive variety?”

        I like to keep Sugru on hand.

        I’d say the better points really don’t need that much explaining:
        -Single-use (or nearly so) packets make it easy to get the right amount for a quick fix.
        -Foil packets keep it fresh and ready to use
        -Alternate colors can be used for identifying as well as fixing
        -Product is ready-made, ingredients already gathered and mixed
        -Product is consistent in use and utility, and that wouldn’t always be true with home mixes

        Sure, I could probably make it on my own cheaper. But I could also brush my teeth with baking soda. Screw that.

        • G says:

          See, what I’m seeing you say is:
          -There’s a size limitation, where you can only use the amount what they dole out rather than mixing up exactly what you need (more or less than the packets)
          -There’s a slight convenience factor involved in having it already in packets (but that 6 month shelf life would bother me a lot)
          -Sugru comes in several colors, and this is apparently a positive? If you mix your own you can make any color you want.
          -You already mentioned the slight convenience factor
          -Consistency is good, certainly.

          Although I have found that using the different mixtures for different projects seems really useful.

          Okay, still unconvinced, but thanks.

      • Karen says:

        From what I read, it didn’t appear to me that the cornstarch+silicone mixture was non-gloopy. If that’s not the case then that point is awash. Just as you haven’t tried the Sugru, I haven’t tried the silicone+cornstarch mixture.

        I like Sugru because it requires no planning to use. I don’t have to mix anything or open a tube of silicone. (I don’t use caulking often, so I don’t usually have an open tube and if I do, it’s probably dried out.)

        When I say they fill different niches, silicone+cornstarch is definitely going to be more practical and economical if you have a need for a large volume of the stuff. The person who posted the Instructable I read was trying to come up with a way of making flexible circuit boards.

        On the other hand, Sugru is super quick. I’m more likely to fix things that I’d otherwise put off or ignore because I don’t have the gumption to get out the silicone and cornstarch and mix them together. (I know how lazy this makes me sound.) Also, though the price per gram is quite expensive, each packet is usually more than enough for any little thing I need to fix.

        • Michael W says:

          Not lazy, maybe you just have a busier life. ;)

          I don’t mix my own glue when I am working in the shop making furniture either. It’s all about what you want to spend your time doing.

  5. ShopMonger says:

    So how hard does it get? What kind of force can it with stand… This looks really cool, Please tell us more..

    ShopMonger

  6. Sugru is a genuinely new product, though I don’t know how many things it can do that can also be done with the cheap home-made alternative.

    The short shelf-life and non-reusability turn me off it too. For that reason, my favourite recently-invented multipurpose malleable… substance… is polycaprolactone. I’ve written about both products:

    http://www.howtospotapsychopath.com/2010/07/01/can-you-hack-methyltrismethylethylketoximesilane/

    http://www.howtospotapsychopath.com/2010/04/03/when-cat-toys-are-outlawed-only-outlaws-will-have-cat-toys/

  7. woodrow5000 says:

    Square Glasses crowd? There’s some forward thinking. Are you implying that the people who enjoy those sites couldn’t possibly enjoy toolmonger too? I know enjoy both. Perhaps for different purposes. But, I must say, my square glasses fit nicely under my safety goggles in the shop.

    • Chuck Cage says:

      FWIW, I enjoy those sites, too. (In fact, I write for PopSci from time to time.) I definitely enjoy the MAKE ethic, though some take it a bit too far, calling everything they do a ‘hack’ and so on. Of course, the same thing is true of the “dirty boots” crowd, who can sometimes become so practical that they (we?) forget the fun.

      What I was getting at is that sometimes products like this that get heavy coverage in those circles end up being the kind of thing that’s high on concept and short on application. This struck me as *not* that way.

      Also, though they’re not all thick and ironic, my glasses are pretty squarish:

  8. Bren R. says:

    Doesn’t it seem a lot like Kneadatite? Which is just a two-part epoxy putty and has been on the market for over 20 years. Maybe I’m missing something.

  9. Brian Dolge says:

    I’m with Woodrow, although I was thinking of square glasses like the whiskey tumblers I have vs round beer mugs, but stillI have Toolmonger in the same bookmark folder as Make, Hackaday, Fine Woodworking and Pop Sci. Does that make me a big weirdo? As for the DIY vs purchased thread I can say that the DIY is smelly and takes time to mix and makes a mess if you’re not careful. On the other hand if you need a pound of the stuff…

  10. Rick Reimundez says:

    I’ve used Sugru for a couple of years. This is actually the first time I hear of the home-made silicone/corn starch alternative. *two demerits on my square glasses card*

    I like it a lot. Not sure I’d be too inclined to make my own though. Something to be said for just cutting open the packet and getting to work.

    To answer ShopMonger’s question, It’s pretty durable, but by no means setup to deal with a lot of punishment. I made a hook out of it in my bathroom that gets lots of moisture and it’s held up very well there, holding robes and such for over a year. But I used it to cushion an ill fitting solid wood door to my apartment that would have a quarter inch gap between the door and door frame when it latches, but still has movement up to the stop. So when someone would open the front door, my door rattles with the play in the latch. I put some quarter inch balls of sugru on the door stop so that the door would stop moving in as soon as it closed enough to latch.

    Those balls would take a beating. They lasted maybe six months before needing to be replaced.

  11. Shop Cow says:

    I believe “square glasses crowd” refers to hipsters, not really DIY-ers or people that read Popular Science, Fine Woodworking, etc. The latter are genuinely crafty and inventive, the previous are just trendy and on-board because it’s the hip / non-mainstream / “ironic” (they do not understand irony) thing to do.

    At least, this is how I read the phrase. Being in Austin, TX and surrounded by smarmy hipsters, I can definitely recognize that group by behavior, look and description.

  12. Adric says:

    Word or warning, Sugru does expire, after about a year even double sealed in its packs plus in a unopened pouch.

    some moisture or catalytic action must be going on. so dont just save it for a rainy day.. use it..

    Ive made custom house key caps, thimbles working with hot things, custom bluetooth ear pieces, laptop feet. and more with mine.

    I have also made the silicone caulking and cornstarch equivelent, and cast things out of it, its a little thick but works. you can see some photos here.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/killbox/archives/date-taken/2011/10/02/

  13. woodrow5000 says:

    I appreciate the response and clarification, Chuck.
    I’m not much of a labeller, is all. People are people, know what I mean? Still a big fan of the site and of my big ass glasses. Though I certainly don’t wear them for a hip aestheitc… just blind as f##K. Cheers.

  14. Elin says:

    Hey,

    Which store in New York City sells Sugru?

  15. Thad says:

    I can take anything the “square-glasses” crowd give. There’s a lot of creativity there.

    But not, please, not… the word “re-purpose” ;)

    And I am so, so tempted, so often, to order some Sugru!

  16. Chris Ball says:

    These guys are based in New York and sell the sugru stuff (Accessories in the web store) I’m not sure if they have a proper storefront though. Still local for you at least.

    http://www.makerbot.com/

  17. Blake Girardot says:

    I found it to be useless for anything other than putting a “grippy” type surface on something.

    It isn’t really strong enough for any sort of repairs that are not trivial.

    The 6 month shelf life is a big killer for me as well.

    And I have found their customer service to be terrible: I was a pre order customer so I supported them before they even had the product available. At that time the shelf life was listed as 12 months. Only at production time did they realize it really only lasted 6 months. My packages even had the 12 months printed on them with a black sharpie to cross it out. I wrote their customer service to ask for a partial refund or a credit for future purchase since I ordered more than I could use in 6 months based on their previous 12 month promise. The customer service response: Silence.

    My suggestion is to avoid it, too expensive for very little utility.

  18. Laurie says:

    who’s selling Sugru in Portland OR? or did they mean Portland Maine?

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