Introduction: DIY Plasic Without Fancy Chemicals

This is how I make "plastic" for my projects.
All you need is:
-Aluminum foil
-Styrofoam (expanded polystyrene)
-Iron
-A towel or ironing board
-Common sense and safety


WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO THIS INSTRUCTABLE. IT INVOLVED HIGH TEMPERATURES THAT COULD CAUSE SERIOUS BURNS, PROPERTY DAMAGE, OR EVEN FIRE. THIS PROJECT MAY ALSO GENERATE HARMFUL FUMES THAT COULD CAUSE PERMANENT BRAIN DAMAGE.
I AM NOT LIABLE FOR WHAT YOU DO WITH THIS INFORMATION!

I hate disclaimers (but I hear getting sued is worse).

Step 1: Preperation

Lay down a towel or ironing board on the surface you want to work on so it doesn't get hot or burn. I recommend using an old one that you don't care about because it will probably get burned.
Plug in the iron and let it get hot. The temperature doesn't matter, but if it hotter it will melt faster. I'm not sure but when it gets hotter it probably releases more fumes.
Take your Styrofoam (I use packaging from a printer and spacers for bottles) and break it into smaller pieces (about 3"x3"x2"or about 80x80x50 mm) The size doesn't matter, but it makes it easier to melt.

Step 2: Melt It!

Take a large (about 8"x20") and put a few chunks in and fold it in half so that the bottom of the iron doesn't come it contact with the foam. If it does it will ruin the iron. I would recommend using a cheap garage sale iron or a used one so that if it does melt on it it doesn't matter.
Place the foil and foam on your towel or ironing board and slowly press the iron down on to the foil. After a few seconds the foam should start melting. Keep melting it until it is only about 1/8" or about 3 mm thick. Take the iron off and let it cool. After it is cool peel back the aluminum foil. If you want bigger pieces repeat this process several times.

Step 3: Final Thoughts

It's Done!
This project is extremely easy and uses foam that most people would throw away. It can be done in as little as 5 minutes and doesn't require any fancy equipment or costly and dangerous chemicals.

I hope you enjoy doing this project as much as I did. Please feel free to comment, or suggest other alternatives. I would love to see what you make with it.

And If you like it please rate it.

Comments

author
Charger_06 (author)2008-01-12

you can also make plastic with milk and vinegar ill get the recipe and post it

author
LinuxH4x0r (author)Charger_062008-01-12

Cool! I'd love to see it.

author
Coffeebot (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-03-06

I posted the milk/vinegar plastic a few months ago: https://www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-Plastic/

How resilient is your plastic? I would figure it still has a bit of brittleness that styrofoam is famous for.

author
rbneville (author)Coffeebot2011-04-03

@Coffeebot using milk and vinegar makes cheese lol

author
Broom (author)Coffeebot2011-03-05

While melted polystyrene is toxic, mild dizziness and eye irritation is the worst it really has to offer - not lethality. Plus, moderate ventilation - don't do this in a closed room, duh! - is enough to prevent this level of toxicity. The smell of melting styrene is noticeable long before the adverse side effects become a risk. Source.

And styrene vapors are not as light as O2, so they don't rise to the ozone layer. You're probably thinking of the HCFC gases often used to expand polystyrene into styrofoam - but once the styrofoam is made, there's really reasonable nothing that can be done to prevent release of these gases, anyway, so it doesn't matter if they're released by ironing, or UV exposure, or decomposition in a landfill.

author
LinuxH4x0r (author)Coffeebot2008-03-06

Cool! I might try that. My plastic is pretty hard. It depends on what you start with, and how thick you make it.

author

I use those same ingredients to make fried chicken! But it use high temperatures and could be fatal if done wrong so I am not willing to post it.

author
littlechef37 (author)2008-04-30

This is a good idea because it keep POLYSTYRENE **looks back at that big word and wonders if he spelt it right** out of the lakes and land fills.

author
Broom (author)littlechef372011-03-05

While melted polystyrene is toxic, mild dizziness and eye irritation is the worst it really has to offer - not lethality. Plus, moderate ventilation - don't do this in a closed room, duh! - is enough to prevent this level of toxicity. The smell of melting styrene is noticeable long before the adverse side effects become a risk. Source.

And styrene vapors are not as light as O2, so they don't rise to the ozone layer. You're probably thinking of the HCFC gases often used to expand polystyrene into styrofoam - but once the styrofoam is made, there's really reasonable nothing that can be done to prevent release of these gases, anyway, so it doesn't matter if they're released by ironing, or UV exposure, or decomposition in a landfill.

author
LinuxH4x0r (author)littlechef372008-04-30

Thanks! polystyrene (yep, its spelled right) is such a waste. Too bad I can't put this in the green contest

author
cyc4015 (author)2008-07-14

honestly, this is a horrible idea. I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but polystyrene is very toxic when heated. the vapors released from it can be lethal, and cut a big fat hole in the ozone layer. it's a nice idea, but not a healthy one,

author
Broom (author)cyc40152011-03-05

While melted polystyrene is toxic, mild dizziness and eye irritation is the worst it really has to offer - not lethality. Plus, moderate ventilation - don't do this in a closed room, duh! - is enough to prevent this level of toxicity. The smell of melting styrene is noticeable long before the adverse side effects become a risk. Source.

And styrene vapors are not as light as O2, so they don't rise to the ozone layer. You're probably thinking of the HCFC gases often used to expand polystyrene into styrofoam - but once the styrofoam is made, there's really reasonable nothing that can be done to prevent release of these gases, anyway, so it doesn't matter if they're released by ironing, or UV exposure, or decomposition in a landfill.

author
LinuxH4x0r (author)cyc40152008-07-14

No, I totally understand what you mean. I did this out of boredom and desperation. I had recently moved and all of my stuff was back at my other house 1200 miles away. Agreed, bad idea

author
stephenniall (author)2009-01-02

In replyto Koil_1 underneath me i use wal-Mart shopping bags for rope and pen holders etc after melting and carving with the soldering iron lol

author
Koil_1 (author)2008-12-30

Wal-Mart shopping bags also work pretty well as a source of plastic. I thought I was the only one who did this sort of thing... I guess not.

author
Cann0n (author)2008-10-19

It's not as bad as some make it out to be. Like all projects that involve hydrocarbons, work in a well ventilated workspace . Seeing the black smoke is what is the major environmental issue with polystyrene, as well as being carcinogenic. One of the ideal uses for this method would have to be the production of very cheap 'Sliding Gloves' for skateboarding. I haven't tested them with this method. Most slider gloves are made out of a hard polyurethane material jsut glues to the palm of a glove. If this material is thick enough to provide little friction and durable for that type of abuse, you have yourself "Worlds Cheapest Sliding Gloves" at your hands.

author
LinuxH4x0r (author)Cann0n2008-10-19

Good idea. Yes, these are extremely hard and would be ideal for sliding gloves. The only disadvantage is that they are brittle and might crack on impact

author
schmidty (author)2008-07-01

nice idea, but i would probably make napalm with my styrofoam instead... try makin it with cheap plastic stuff like from the dollar store.

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Lego man (author)2008-05-18

Nice, its like my plastic instructable.

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LinuxH4x0r (author)Lego man2008-05-18

Thanks!

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bob111 (author)2008-03-18

nice job go forward/

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LinuxH4x0r (author)bob1112008-03-18

Thanks! Have you seen my new ible? Check it out, and if you like it rate it