Introduction: Fix Earbud Headphones With Sugru

"Sugru" (sugru.com) is  a air-drying silicone goo invented by Irish artist and businesswoman Jane ni Dhulchaointigh and a team of materials scientists.

Sugru starts out slightly sticky, like Silly Putty, but after a few hours solidifies into a harder rubbery texture which retains its shape but is still pliable.  It can be used to fix any variety of things, or to "hack things better" as the Sugru motto suggests.

This instructible details how to fix the silicone rings on the earbud headphones that come with the Apple iPhone.

Step 1: Start With Broken Earbuds

 My earbuds started out in pretty bad shape.  I use them for many hours every day and when driving.

The rubber rings on both sides was separating from the plastic.  That's bad, because obviously it looks bad, but also because the lack of ring leaves a slight sharp edge on the surface which was beginning to irritate the inside of my ears.

Additionally, one side of the earbuds was coming apart, the two plastic parts no longer glued together.

You can see what remains of the rubber from one side in the photo.

Step 2: Get Some Sugru

Sugru comes in a pouch of 12 sealed packets.

Each packet contains one of four colors, black, orange, green, or blue.

A single packet has far more Sugru than needed for this repair, so I did my best to seal up the rest of it to use for something else.

Step 3: Make a Sugru "worm" and Wrap the Earbud

Pinch off a little blob of Sugru and roll it on a flat surface into a very thin "worm."

Note: Although the Sugru people say it's safe for your skin, I have sensitive skin, so I wore food-handling gloves for this step.

If you want a clean-looking repair, it's important to get the worm as uniform as possible - it should be one thickness its entire length, with no bulges.

Stick one end on the seam of the repair.  Do not crush the worm yet!

Slowly and carefully stick the rest of the worm along the seam of the repair.

Some of the worm will be left over.  If there is no worm left over... start over with a longer worm.


Step 4: Cut Sugru Worm to Length

Using an "X-acto" knife or a thin box-cutter knife (scalpel maybe?) carefully cut the worm right where it meets the start of the worm where you started.


Step 5: Smooth Sugru to Desired Contour

Now that the Sugru is evenly applied, now is your chance to sculpt it to shape.  I used my fingers to crush it against the earbud.

Because the Sugru is so pliable, it's easy to mess up in this step and make an uneven repair.

Let the finished repair sit for a few hours.  The Sugru will solidify and lose its tackiness.

Within 24 hours your part should be safe to use without deforming the repair.

Good luck!

Step 6: Use the Rest of Your Sugru for Other Repairs

I also had a USB cable that had a hole in its insulation, so I fixed that too!

Comments

author
chimbisimo (author)2011-11-19

At this point I dipped my fingers in soapy water to smooth it out, which made the sugru much smoother and more comfortable in my ear.

author
Ethanal (author)2010-06-13

I did the same thing with a very small length of shrink tubing. Not as cool or (most likely) comfy as Sugru, but it works great.

author
musick_08 (author)Ethanal2011-02-15

haha i did the exact same thing a while back and it works great

author
monkeywidget (author)Ethanal2010-06-14

You should post pictures!

author
Ethanal (author)monkeywidget2010-06-25

Pictures! Unfortunately, the band loosens over time, so I have to periodically fix it with the heat gun. I wonder how I could eliminate this problem...

Photo on 2010-06-25 at 23.15.jpg
author
monkeywidget (author)Ethanal2010-06-27

maybe a silicone glue or something?

author
thelmer44 (author)2010-12-07

Very nice instructable... I plan to do this tonight considering I got my Sugru in the mail yesterday. :)

author
A is for Anarchy (author)2010-11-09

where can one buy this "sugru"?

author

Please check their site at sugru.com .

Specifically:
https://sugru.com/buy/

author
thelmer44 (author)2010-11-10

Very nice... I plan to do this to my earbuds once my sugru comes in.

author
BOOM5601 (author)2010-10-29

This i'ble has shown my why they never have Jane's full name on anything.

author
Kiteman (author)2010-05-23

Kiteman want sugru.  Give Kiteman sugru.

Give Kiteman sugru now!

(Once they're in production, we should have a sugru-sponsored contest!)

author
DavidRobertson (author)Kiteman2010-06-19

I got mint this morning :D

author
Kiteman (author)DavidRobertson2010-06-19

Ah-ha, so did I!

author
nickodemus (author)Kiteman2010-06-25

A sugru contest? That would be great!!

author
Kiteman (author)nickodemus2010-06-25

Agreed!

author
your dog (author)Kiteman2010-06-25

seconded

author
lukeyj15 (author)your dog2010-06-25

thirded

author
DavidRobertson (author)lukeyj152010-06-26

fourth-ed?!?!?

author

quinted!!!! :P

author
kcls (author)iMakeItHappen2010-06-26

Here we go again... Sixthed!

author
zascecs (author)kcls2010-06-26

1st-ed.

author
Fizzxwizz (author)zascecs2010-06-26

more like skipp-ed Seventhed

author
zascecs (author)Fizzxwizz2010-06-26

No one said first so I have the right. =P

author
iMakeItHappen (author)zascecs2010-06-28

kiteman is "1st-ed" because he said "i agree", then we all agreed with him.... just sayin

author
zascecs (author)iMakeItHappen2010-06-30

Nope, he just agreed, but wasn't "officially" the first to agree with anything. =P


he didn't know this chain would happen... lol ;)

author
chardlz13 (author)zascecs2010-10-14

Dodecagonneded

author
tanmanknex (author)zascecs2010-06-26

Good point. ;)

author
dvnfntn (author)tanmanknex2010-07-05

8thed

author
toogers (author)dvnfntn2010-07-10

100001sted because at least that many people would agree.

author
sabbysayshi (author)toogers2010-08-09

one hundred thousand seconded

author
AJBrawlLvr (author)sabbysayshi2010-09-01

FIRST!!!!!!! what? no one said it yet....

author
Fizzxwizz (author)zascecs2010-06-26

aww

author
minnesotatexan (author)2010-09-19

Say folks, has anyone taken their broken earphones into an apple store? They will more than likely be happy to replace them if they don't show signs of abuse. I've seen them do it over and over when I worked there part time. I never saw them charge for a replacement.

author
Phoghat (author)2010-07-17

my iPhone ear buds don't really fit my ears well, can I use this as a custom mold-to-fit?

author
tictaclad (author)Phoghat2010-09-14

thats exactly whati thought of!

author
karthikvasudevan (author)2010-08-22

OR this could work too. https://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-way-to-noise-insulate-your-earphone/

author
motadacruz (author)2010-08-08

Wow, that stuff is awesome! I got broken buds like that for a long while now. Awesome instructable, thanks!

author
fullerenedream (author)2010-06-27

Nice. I like the vibrant orange with the white, too.

author
Pie Ninja (author)2010-06-26

I wonder if I could make a pair of fitted shoes with sugru...

author
TSC (author)yoyology2010-06-27

Yay I have see that moive!!

author
dragonsniper (author)2010-06-25

make your own silly bandz lol

author
M4industries (author)2010-06-25

There was so much of this stuff at Maker Faire North Carolina. I wish I had bought some more. It is pure awesomeness.

author
PKM (author)2010-06-25

Man, why didn't I have some of this on hand when I was repairing my earbuds with hot glue?

author
switch62 (author)2010-06-25

Good instructable.  When this happens to my earbuds I usually buy new ones.  Now I don't have to :)

Sugru is really cool. I will be getting some.

When I need to make repairs to cables or make my own, I use heat glue or epoxy, with heat shrink tubing.  This comes out very rigid.  Sugru looks like it will do a better job for all sorts of repairs.  Love it.

author
Kryptonite (author)2010-05-26

That looks like brilliant stuff! How hard is it when 'set'?

author
monkeywidget (author)Kryptonite2010-05-27

It's a tough rubber, so very much like the rings I replaced.

Thicker applications might be good for tool handles, for example.

author
Kryptonite (author)monkeywidget2010-05-28

Sounds like tough stuff, thanks!

author
atombomb1945 (author)2010-05-23

Nice work on the repair, my wife has a pair that are in this state.
I too am waiting for the next batch to come out for various repairs and mods. 

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Bio: Indie Film! Art science! Reuse and sustainability!
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