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Easy Pet ID Tags

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Step 1: What you will need:


  • Polystyrene plastic (#6 plastic or PS )* -it is the clear plastic often used in takeout containers (not the foam).
  • Metal hoop to attach tag to collar
  • Parchment paper
  • Coloured markers and a black fine tip marker
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Ruler
  • Toaster oven and oven mitts
*If you have trouble finding PS plastic you can just buy shrink art sheets (Shrinky Dinks) from craft stores.

Step 2: Determine shrinkage

One important thing to know when using polystyrene is that the different plastic containers do not always shrink to the same degree. Before you start cutting out the shape for your ID tag you will need to determine the amount of shrinkage. (I have also noticed that the length and width can shrink differently causing your final product to look skewed so it is a good idea to do a test run first.)

To determine the amount of shrinkage cut a small piece of the plastic, measure it (length and width), shrink it in oven (see Step 3) and then measure the end product. 

Step 3: Shrinking the polystyrene in the oven

  • Put the plastic onto a piece of parchment paper and place into a toaster oven (use with good ventilation -eg. with kitchen fan on, open a window).
  • Set the oven to 250 F (121C), and watch, first the plastic starts to curl, then it uncurls, then it shrinks .
  • The time it takes can vary, but once it uncurls and stops doing anything interesting, it is done.
  • With an oven mitt take out the parchment paper, if the plastic is still a bit curled, place something heavy on top, such as a phone book to straighten it out before it cools.

Step 4: Preparing the tag


Cut
Once you have determined the size of the plastic that you will need, cut it out.  I cut a basic rectangle shape with rounded edges, but you can try different shapes such as circles, hearts, a dog bone, fish, fire hydrants etc, as long as there is enough room to write the information on.

Sand
If you are using clear plastic it is a good idea to sand the plastic so it becomes opaque making it easier to read the information.  A medium grit will do and sand evenly over the whole surface.  If you are buying shrink art sheets you can get opaque ones (and in different colours too).

Punch hole
I just use a standard hole punch to make a hole in the top middle of the tag, double check with the measurements in step 2 that the hole will be large enough after it has shrunk to place the hoop through.

Step 5: Add colour, name, contact information, and decorate


Colour background
On a couple of the tags that I experimented with I coloured the background, this looks really nice and stands out when placed on a white (and ginger) cat, but upon shrinking the colour darkens considerably making the writing more difficult to read.  So I would recommend using lighter colours or leaving it white.

Name and contact information
The information you put on the tag is discretionary, the important thing is that someone will be able to contact you if they find your pet.  The pet's name and your phone number(s) are probably the most important,  you can also put on your address, and the pets medical information (if relevant) or even your own name. Write clearly and use a fine tipped marker  to ensure that the information is legible after it has shrunk. 

Decorate
Add embellishment if you would like.  I drew hearts and flowers, fish or dog bones would be cute too (if your into cute).


Step 6: Shrink the ID tag,

Once you have finished adding all the information and decorating your tag you can shrink it using the instructions in step 3.  Larger pieces tend to curl a bit more so when it comes out of the oven place it between the pages of a heavy book to flatten it out. 

Once it has cooled place the hoop through the hole and put it on your pet's collar.
kalimo11 months ago
Very clever! I will have to make this for my pet now!
aimeee1 year ago
This is great! I should have seen this instructable before I placed yet another order for id tags. My cats have lost 4 tags already and they weren't cheap. Shrinky dink tags sound more fun to make any day. Thank you for sharing!
this is awesome! thank you.
ChrysN (author)  PadiDiver331 year ago
Thanks!
cool cheap and easy
191matthew3 years ago
GREAT idea...will try it
I agree .
cabrlamo3 years ago
I definitely need to try this. Our dog list his and I don't want to have to go to the pet store just to get one and spend the all the money!
KTea3 years ago
Exactly what I was looking for, thank you!
Loved your ibble it brought back many memories. I remember doing these in school as part of a design project, years later myself & group of friends studying art made them to order as part of a college charity drive, I couldn't belive some of the things people asked for but there were very few we could not make. They are great fun & an excellent way of keeping the kids amused on a rainy day, so much better than watching tv or playing on computers (I was so proud when they were growing up that my boys were among the few these days who actually read books). So glad you reminded me of them I have a whole basket of keys needing tags. :-)
ChrysN (author)  Nostalgic Guy3 years ago
Yes, it's a great activity for kids!
I do this for my naughty cat who loses tags! I sand the plastic and use coloured pencils then coat with a clear nail polish to seal. I did find the kits in the pet store but didn't want to pay $6 when I could buy a whole packet of shrinky-plastic at the craft store for the same price... Great instructable and cute kitty!
ChrysN (author)  sarahschmara3 years ago
Sealing it with clear nail polish is a great idea, thanks for the tip!
Oo very nice. I am so saving this for when I'm getting a new kitty or kitties.
mikeasaurus3 years ago
The results look great!
Kitty looks happy with new bling
ChrysN (author)  mikeasaurus3 years ago
Thanks, he does like his bling.
NutandBolt3 years ago
Great idea, good timing my cat lost her collar the 3 time last week so I might give this a try and make a few adress tags for her :-)
Ninzerbean3 years ago
Great idea! I just changed my phone number so this is very timely.
bptakoma3 years ago
These are great -- I've done them for visiting dogs and hook them on the collar with lanyard clips. Just in case a furry guest bolts from the dog park... And of course, once they have a "temporary" tag, they won't roam away.
Scott_Tx3 years ago
Neat.
kcls3 years ago
Nice! Kind of like "shrinky dinks". Great instructable.
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