Remember that 1980’s TV “MacGuyver” where the show’s star was able to make ingenious solutions to problems using every day items such as string, paper clips and bottles? We recently came across a similar application on Youtube for a plastic bottle mousetrap. The items you need are pretty easy to get a hold of and most people probably already have all of them in their house right now:

  • 2L plastic bottle
  • string
  • (2) rubber bands
  • (2) chopsticks
  • (1) paper clip
  • dry mouse bait

Other recommendations from the comment section were 1.) wear gloves (to cover the human scent of your hands) and 2.) screw the bottle onto a stable surface. We’ve never made this trap ourselves it just seemed like an interesting idea. It has the benefit of “catch and release” too if you don’t like how mice are killed in traditional snap traps. We’ve embedded the video below:

 

Material Spotlight: Micarta CE

Posted: April 26, 2016 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

A plastic that really needs to be given more attention in the “DIY” community is Micarta CE, or its equivalents in the plastics industry. Micarta CE grade is the standard mechanical grade of a cotton-based industrial laminate. The plastic is essentially many layers of thin cotton soaked in plastic resin and then compressed under pressure. These plastics can take tremendous load, for example the ultimate compressive strength of CE grade industrial laminate is 37,000 PSI! It is also an excellent electrical insulator, handles temperatures up to 265 Fahrenheit, does not absorb water and is unaffected by all known oils, greases and synthetic fluids. Its only chemical weakness is to caustics.

All that talk about properties doesn’t connect the material with an application and we know you’re wondering – “what can we do with it?” You need to think mechanical, IE. load bearing, hard, and take impact. For example, we’ve sold it to customers who have sailboats and the mast sits in a sort of bearing (think a square, with a hole in the middle). The metal bearing may rust or be affected by chemicals but the CE grade laminate will not. For the same reasons in that the laminate will not rot or rust, we’ve had sailboat owners replace their hatches with Micarta CE. Amateur go-kart makers have used small pieces as brake pads and because of its strength and insulating properties it works well as a housing for electrical equipment. Spacers, bearing pads, housings, saw guides, all those types of applications are areas Micarta CE is often very suitable.

You do need to have some precautions in place when you work with the material. Ventilation is critical as is wearing a mast and eye protection. The dust generated is toxic and lubricating the cutting surface when doing any cutting or drilling is highly recommended. The material is very hard so diamond or carbide-tipped blades are recommended but not essential. Otherwise, the laminate actually machines quite well and is dimensionally stable. With the exception of dealing with the dust it’s similar to work with as wood, just stronger.

For more information on industrial laminates like Micarta CE, check out that section of our website here.

Phenolic

Lets face it, many DIY projects look neat but may require tools, skills, and materials not available to some people. In short: a lot of DIY projects just aren’t that simple. This one we found is; however, and it can probably be made all out of materials you would have at home. If you have bored kids this just might be the type of easy project to work on together! The idea is to use household pieces of plastic to create a “jelly fish” in a bottle, sort of like a lava lamp effect. You really only need a few items to make this work:

  • plastic bottle
  • food colouring
  • string
  • plastic bag
  • scissors
  • water

To make your jelly fish you first bundle the center of the plastic bag into a head shape and tie it off, somewhat loosely, with some string. Leave a hole big enough to pour water into. Next, take your scissors and cut many “legs” into the plastic surrounding the head portion. Then, fill your bottle with water, add food coloring, and cap it, turn it over a few times and there you have it. What we like about this project is that the bottle is recycled and that it is a plastic project that involves marine life. It’s the perfect conversation starter with kids on the importance of recycling in order to keep plastics out of the ocean!

There are many short “how to” videos of this project on Youtube but we’ve embedded a good one below:

PVC tubing is one of the least expensive, most accessible plastics the Do-It-Yourself community has access to. It’s no surprise then that the plastic pops up in so many amazing applications. Last year we highlighted some projects like the PVC kids sprinkler and outdoor movie screen as well as the PVC peddle kart. But just take a look at some of these other creative applications!

PVC Bow:

PVC Bow

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.instructables.com/id/PVC-Bow-2/

 

PVC Scooter:

PVC scooter

 

 

 

 

 

PVC Dog Bed:

Dawg

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://primedforsurvival.com/post-b/

 

PVC Hydroponic Garden:

pvc-hydroponic-planter-728x546

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://primedforsurvival.com/post-b/

 

PVC Director’s Chair (no saveable image available, click link for pictures): http://s577.photobucket.com/user/LazyPup/media/frogschaircropped1.jpg.html

 

 

Choosing Your Plastic

Posted: March 8, 2016 in Education
Tags: , , , , , ,

The question comes up a lot in the DIY community: “I am planning to make _______ so what plastic do I need?” The good news is selecting a plastic for your application is very similar to how heavy industry would select a plastic for their projects. You need to select a plastic based on certain properties it gives you, not some sort of bias to what you “heard” worked – and especially not based on color!

So when thinking about your what you need for your application consider the properties of these plastics:

 

UHMW Polyethylene:

-Slick, low-coefficient of friction

-Good wear properties

-Good abrasion properties

-Thermoformable (at home)

 

Polyurethane:

-Elastomer: will regain its shape after depression (excellent as mallet heads)

-Excellent cut & tear resistance

 

Nylon:

-Bearings (takes up to 4000PSI)

-Wear plates

 

Tuffkast:

-Replaces nylon in cold operating environments or where impact is a concern

 

Acetal:

-Small parts, replacing metal

-Where machinability is key, can hold tight tolerances

-Replacing nylon in “wet” applications

 

PVC:

-Anywhere a “frame” is needed.

 

Industrial laminates/Phenolic/Micarta:

-Mechanical or electrical applications

-High load bearing

 

There are a lot of flashy “do it yourself” projects that hobbyists get in to with plastic but one application that keeps coming up that you might not think of is the simple gear. The general reasoning to use a plastic gear as a replacement for a metal gear make intuitive sense: the plastic gear will often be mated to a metal component and the fact that you have a plastic on metal connection now should greatly increase the life of the mating components. The problem is hobbyists do not really know what to use: we’ve heard of HDPE, UHMW, nylon and even polyurethane be requested by the DIY community for a home made gear application. But how suitable are these plastics for the application?

Actually – not very. Most plastics cannot be machined to tolerances as tight as metal be but many plastics, especially the polyolefins such as HDPE and UHMW, are very soft and could have the gear teeth quickly lose their shape once that gear starts working. Nylon is better, but it cannot take much impact at all – especially in the cold – meaning it is considered to be fragile. The best material for the application is actually acetal. Acetal is a very hard plastic that machines very well and holds excellent tolerances. It is widely available in rod stock from plastics distributors across North America. The gear in the picture below is made of white, homopolymer acetal. Black copolymer acetal is also widely available and would work well too – its properties are slightly worse than homopolymer in some respects but it is also less expensive.

Acetal

 

 

Sometimes a little inspiration doesn’t hurt, especially when you’re a member of the DIY (“Do It Yourself”) community who searches out new projects. On this blog we like to highlight particular applications people are doing but sometimes you just wonder in what type of projects should I use certain plastics? Well, when you search out content like we do for so long – you can bet we see some patterns!

UHMW Polyethylene

Readily available and extremely versatile, with DIY projects UHMW is often used to provide slickness or wear resistance.

  • Toboggans
  • Snowmobile skids
  • Axe or blade sheaths
  • Jet boat bottoms or wear pads
  • Boat trailer support pads
  • Custom cutting board for outdoor kitchens

Acrylic

Scratch and weather resistant it is easy to get a hold of in clear, much more difficult to find in colors or frosted. Good for artistic projects.

  • Art covers or flower presses
  • Table tops
  • glass substitution

Polycarbonate (twin or multi-wall)

Polycarbonate is not scratch resistant but it is very impact resistant. Any reputable distributor will sell UV-stable twin/multi wall polycarbonate sheet as UV-stability in the product is mostly standard. Also, if stocked, multi-wall polycarbonate is quite inexpensive compared to other plastic sheets.

  • Awnings
  • Solariums
  • Greenhouses
  • Safety glass

Nylon

Nylon is a strong, engineering plastic with excellent load bearing capabilities.

  • Homemade bushings
  • Sheaves
  • Pulleys

Acetal

Acetal is a very hard plastic and often replaces metal parts. It machines very well and can replace nylon in “wet” applications since it doesn’t absorb water.

  • Bushings
  • Marine components
  • Guitar picks
  • Paintball gun bolts

Fiberglass wall panel

FRP wall panel is a CFIA/FDA approved sheet for lining the walls of food processing applications. It’s also used in gas stations.

  • Mud room lining
  • Workshop lining
  • Pet area lining

PVC (Pipe & Joiners)

PVC is one of the most affordable, easy to procure, and versatile plastics people can use for DIY projects. The creativity we see with it is endless!

  • Water sprinkler play zones
  • Go-Karts
  • Bolus games
  • Outdoor movie screens
  • Pet bird perches

There are countless other applications that could be done with those applications! And if you have questions, we’ll try to help if we can. Just email us here.