Introduction: Coflex: Sugru and Duct Tape Have a Baby
Sugru rocks, but it can be expensive and permanent, duct tape holds the universe together but it's sort of permanent and not at all repositionable, and can be stiff and thick. That's where coflex comes in. Coflex is inexpensive, sticks to itself and you don't have to wait for it to dry or set. Also known as vet wrap, coban, flex wrap, cohesive bandage wrapping tape, sport wrap, and a bunch of other names, it's used in medicine for bandaging, holding things together and a bunch of other uses that aren't official. If you look around you can find it for a buck, give or take, a roll. I think coflex is the official Andover brand name adhesive bandage, but it's what I've always called it, so that's the word I'm going to use for the rest of this instructable (I'm also guilty of calling all cotton swabs Q-tips). You can order it online or buy it from pharmacies or feed stores (used in bulk on horses, for bandaging and for decoration) or places that carry veterinary supplies. I buy it by the case for work and for home. If you have latex allergies, be careful, most coflex is made with latex unless otherwise noted. It comes in just about every color and multiple patterns, so it can pretty things up while being useful.
Step 1: Pad Things.
Pencils, tools or knitting needles digging grooves in your fingers? Coflex to the rescue. Sure, you could use sugru, but it'll cost you a lot more and you have to wait for it to dry. Just cut or fold your coflex to the desired width and wrap it around the object for a few layers, pulling it tight as you do. When you have the amount of padding you want, you can press down the edges to round them and squeeze it into shape. It is a little bit moldable, and if you need differing depths you just layer it where you need it. You can also put padding under the coflex, I've taken strips of tissue or scrap fabric to create substance or padding. Coflex also creates a slip resistant surface, wrap it around tools with slippery handles. Also use it to create knobs to keep things in holders. If the coflex feels "sticky" wrap a final layer of fabric (regular bandages or disposable washcloths work great for this)
Step 2: Stop Losing Things!
I have perpetually chapped lips and while I'm quite sure I own at least 547 tubes and tubs of assorted lip balms, I'm also positive that the sock gremlins that live under the dryer sneak out at night and eat my chapstick, which is why I can never find any. Whenever I get a little sun, or a cold, I need to re-apply every 10 minutes or I turn into a bloody mess. The problem is, while I start with the best of intentions, and try to remember where I plopped down the chapstick, I see something shiny and the chapstick promptly runs away while I'm not paying attention. Co-flex to the rescue! A nice little string to keep around my neck and a quick strip of coflex keeps the chapstick where dumb sick girl can't lose it. This is a much better option than tape, it stays in place but can be easily removed and holds on to the string. When the chapstick runs out I can attach a new one with the same coflex. Unlike tape, the coflex will also mold to oddly shaped objects (pens, pencils, magnifying glasses, little flashlights, etc.) Hang things around your neck, from your belt or on the wall.
Step 3: Attach Things to Things.
Attach a water bottle holder to your bicycle. Attach emergency tools to the things that need emergency tools. The coflex can be taken off and reattached, and can be repositioned. Things can be slid under the coflex and held, removed and replaced. Especially good for not losing the nozzles from spray cans or attaching tiny spoons to little jars of spices, coflex doesn't snap or disintegrate like rubber bands and can be put in places rubberbands don't fit. Coflex will also hold things without having to be as tight as a rubber band.
Keep in mind, the coflex will wear out if repositioned several times and won't stick to itself if it is too dirty.
Step 4: Color Code and Mark Things.
Coflex is great for color coding, since there are so many colors and patterns. Instead of tape or a pen, coflex creates a temporary or semi-permanent color code that can be taken off and put on to something else. Works especially well with things that tape won't stick to and ink won't stay on, I have on more than one occasion used coflex to code test tubes and little jars; bonus, it gives a little patch of slip resistance.
One of the uses I've found for coflex is color coding people. Go find Bob is ambiguous, he's pink with blue polka dots is much better...
Having a party with drunken adults or small children? (I suggest avoiding parties with small, drunk children.) Everybody gets a roll of coflex and a pair of comical safety scissors as a party favor. Put a strip around each person's wrist to identify them and then have them put a band of coflex around cups, silverware, associated small drunk people, etc. Once, at a bachelorette party, we used coflex to identify items on a treasure hunt, each of us got a coflex bracelet and had to find all the items banded with the same color (the treasures were the party favors, little piles hidden in different locations).
Step 5: Quick Repairs to Things.
The sun visor on my car started to disintegrate. The fabric was worn out and the foam was turning to horrible eye seeking powder that was determined to blind anyone who used the visor. Sewing some sort of cover or replacing the visor both fell under the category of "things I am way too lazy and not talented enough to do." So I just wrapped the whole thing in coflex. Shaped itself to the visor and has stayed in place for years now.
Image Image By Klearchos Kapoutsis (Flickr: The Puppy) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Step 6: Add Pockets to Things.
My ipad case needed a pocket to hold things. So I made one out of coflex. Lots of things need pockets.
Step 7: Get Lids Off Things.
Bands of coflex make great slippery lid aids. Especially for opening and closing little lids.
Step 8: Costumes, Holsters, Accessories and Attachments for People...
Beyond the obvious mummy suit, coflex is great for costumes and even fashion. Coflex can be used to make quick sleeves or pants, or to attach masks and accessories. Since it is designed to be used on people, it is usually safer than taping things to yourself. I've also used coflex to protect myself from exposure and itchy costume bits. Coflex also makes a great impromptu garter or holster. I've used coflex to attach my license and cash to my thigh when going out with no pockets, beats worrying about losing a purse.
As always with using coflex on living things, make sure you take allergies into account and never wrap it too tight, unlike elastic or ace wraps, coflex really doesn't stretch much once it's applied.
Image: By Summum (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Step 9: What It's Actually Designed For...
Of course, if you really wanted, you could use coflex for what it's actually made for, bandaging people and animals. You can wrap it like you would an ace wrap or use it in place of a band-aid. The great thing is, it doesn't stick to hair. But, it can be wrapped too tight and can contain latex, so make sure you know what you're doing if you use it on living things.
Image By Лена (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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