Introduction: Making Plastic With Glue

Picture of Making Plastic With Glue

This instructable is an experiment in making my own plastic using glue as the main binder material.

Step 1: What You Will Need

Picture of What You Will Need

For this instructable you will need the following:

- PVA Glue

- Talc Powder (material to be bound)

- Mixing cup

- A harp inter-dental cleaner

- A Dremel multi

- A palette to spread samples on

- A spreader

Step 2: Make the Mixer

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An inter-dental cleaner mounted in the chuck of a Dremel makes an amazing mixer for small batch mixing. Check out my instructable for one here: Dremel Small Batch Mixer

Step 3: Make Up the Mix

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Everything for this instructable was done by weight (I don't know a better way of making direct comparisons between viscus liquids and very aerated solids)

I put 50g of glue into the mixing cup

This was followed with 50g of talc.

I used the Dremel mixer to agitate the mix for approximately 3 mins.

I have to admit that even though I had covered the top of the mixing cup I may have lost a couple of grams of talc into the air as I mixed. Should I do this again I would put the talc in first and add the glue on top to prevent the spray into the air.

I made a second batch, still at 100g but this time it was 30g glue and 70g talc.

Step 4: Spread for Drying

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I made up a sample palette in order to test the samples against each other.

I found a cardboard box that for some reason is so waxy that PVA glue does not stick to it.

I laid out a sample of pure glue as a control

I then spread out my 2 samples 50/50 and 70/30

I did my best with the spreader to make sure that the samples were a uniform thickness all over and that they were all as thick as each other.

The samples were left to dry over night.

Step 5: Release the Samples and Analyise

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After the samples had been given 24 hours to dry (3 of them on top of a warm radiator), I gently removed them from the palette.

As expected the pure glue sample was clear, as far as I know a thin layer of PVA always dries clear. The other 2 samples were white due to the talc.

Now it was time for a suite of tests...


The control sample was very soft, like a piece of laytex

The 50/50 sample was tougher but still extremely flexible but more difficult to stretch

The 70/30 sample was very firm but still flexible, I could not stretch it at all but it did not tear either.

Cutting all samples with a sharp box cutter was possible but as expected as the mix got thicker, the cutting became moe difficult.

Step 6: Machining and Shaping

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As the aim of this instuctable was to make plastic I wanted to see how workable the material was.

Using my Dremel multi and a small sanding drum, I set about trying to create a straight edge on each sample.

The control was so soft that it just flapped about when the drum contacted.

The 50/50 took a good clean edge, however the glue did melt a little with the heat of the friction and started to create quite a large burr that had to be sanded off afterwards.

The 70/30 was the best sample to machine, it took a good straight edge with a considerable amount of work from the Dremel, (considering I have used this same attachment to shape small metal components). There was also minimal burr afterward for cleaning.

Step 7: Burning

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If you are making parts or models, you want to know how flammable they may be,

For this I introduced the samples to a direct flame:

The control burst into flames immediately, the flames were large and produced considerable smoke, this is not surprising considering it is made from pure glue..

The 50/50 took a flame for about 60 seconds before catching fire, the flames were small and spread slowly but what remained was obviously mostly talc and so crumbled into powder.

The 70/30 took a direct flame for more that 3 mins before it caught fire, the flames were very small and extinguished withing 3-4 seconds after only travelling 2mm in from the edge.

Step 8: Forming

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This was the test I was most interested in.

If I was to make large sheets of this material, could I use heat to form it into a shape and set it.

I applied indirect heat to the samples and shaped them to 90 degrees over the edge of my bench while hot, I allowed them to cool and set to the following effect:

The control bent under it's own weight, then cooled and placed on a flat surface it returned to flat.

The 50/50 sample took the bend quite well with a relatively small amount of heat, however once cooled and placed on a flat surface, it lost some of the set and the angle opened up by about 20 degrees.

The 70/30 sample took considerable heat before it bent, once it cooled and was placed on the flat surface it held the exact angle it was set to, it is still pliable but it always tries to return to the 90 degree angle.

Step 9: Conclusions

I believe that this material in the 70/30 configuration would be a suitable material for use in model making, both as a flat material to be machined and formed but as a molding material to make figurines.

I have 2 future ideas for this material:

1. pour it over an existing item and use it to create a negative, I will then coat the inside of this negative with a release material such as wax or Never Wet and then refill with the same material to create a replica.
2. Use an existing mold, like the ones used for plaster molding and fill with this material, i don't know what the drying time for such a large block would be, but that may be another instructable.

It didn't quite turn out like the plastic I was expecting but I think it did become something useful. I am going to try again with a different solid material like sand or sugar and see what the effect is on the final product.

If you enjoyed this instructable please vote for it in the glue competition, thanks


mrsmerwin (author)2017-01-12

I have been sitting here thinking about a chess set that I have been considering. Does this plastic release from a mold easily?

I actually haven't had a chance to try moulding yet. if you try will you post your result in think cheap plaster moulds are a good place to start or maybe 2 part lead moulds.

XTL (author)2016-11-08

The talc idea is excellent. You might also consider colloidal silica - which is available from fiberglass manufacturers as a powder. It is used as a filler. Aso used as a densifier in concrete. However its not as cheap or readily available as Talc (Magnesium Silicate). Talc works because it absorbs moisture and so takes the glue up well. When dry, its stable - same as the Silica. Another material that is cheap, readily available and with similar properties is cornstarch (but might not last as long). Its used to make Oogoo which is a Sugru substitute.

Left-field Designs (author)XTL2016-11-08

someone said in one of the comments that Johnsons is actually not talc and is cornstarch, I dunno o need to look at the container

XTL (author)Left-field Designs2016-11-09

It appears that some Talcs sold in the USA are entirely cornstarch or a cornstarch blend. It must say on the container.
Talc in volume is very cheap - try a pottery supplies place. Or try the Colloidal silica from any Fibreglass place - West systems makes a convenient size.

WRT why cornstarch is replacing Talc - They make more money selling cornstarch (almost free to make, vs mining and milling and refining Talc) and so have published false scares about Talc causing Cancer. Fear is the Key to manipulate people apparently.
But the Cancer society has the best info:.

Dawsie (author)XTL2017-01-08

my ex husband use to work at a cornstarch factory if you knew how it was made you would not be using it, it too me years to go back to using cornstarch after being shown how it was made? My other option would be rice flour I used that in place of cornstartch for years...??just took longer to make gravies that's all ?

Yorkshire Lass (author)XTL2016-12-08

I reckon the real reason that J&J's baby powder in the US is no longer made from talc (assuming that's true) is that a St Louis court made an award of tens of $millions against the company earlier this year in respect of a woman who had died of ovarian cancer. With the prospect of further law suits to come, the risk of continuing to sell talc is too great, even though the scientific evidence against it is far from conclusive.

XTL (author)Yorkshire Lass2016-12-09

Personally I'd prefer the information coming from the Cancer society. There's enough fake news and ignorance around at the moment.

Black Tie Punk (author)2016-11-30

I think this might solve a fabrication conundrum I've been trying to figure out for ages. Cheers!

if it's something you can share when complete please do. I have been meaning to resist this with different particulate materials.

Nadinsky (author)2016-11-16

Along the same lines as your great experiment:) I mentioned to a friend trouble i was having finding a glue that would hold a snapped plastic wheel support...the advice was superglue sprinkled with baking soda would set as a hard plastic and hold...and to theor credit it did...i dont know much about the properties but obviously not limited to one glue or powder...pvs however much safer and economical for larger pieces...superglue kept to repairs perhaps! Cheers;)

T0BY (author)2016-11-15

Brilliant idea! Mental note made.

KeithS97 (author)2016-11-14

Perhaps you could make a 'moldable type of 'MDF' using finely sieved sawdust and PVA. May just test that myself, but if you're running tests of alternatives I'm happy to await your results, cheers for a fascinating instructible.

I like that idea, though mdf is more than sawdust and glue (nasty chemicals in mdf) but it should make cleaning a model easier, I would like to mound models in rubber plaster casts.

SherylinRM (author)2016-11-12


Ok I admit that I really like this idea.

If it also has good tensile strength then I can see it having a use for repairing minor problems in other things.

Great work.

Also I loved that you used a control as well. :)

Voted for you :)

Thanks for this :)

Thanks for the feedback and the vote!

Kevanf1 (author)2016-11-09

Hmm, very interesting. I see this being useful to make cheap worm like lures for fishing purposes. The one thing I wonder about is air bubble inclusion in the mix? Does air get trapped or does it dissipate as it sets? If it doesn't I suppose placing it on top of a washing machine on a spin cycle might agitate the trapped air and cause it to rise?

Wonderful instructable, well done :)

you gave me an idea: Check out this awesome Instructable.

I had some small problems with air bubbles but then my samples ended up so thin, pushing them out was fairly easy.

Brucela (author)2016-11-08

Big problem. All plastics I know of are waterproof, this isn't and will melt.

Kevanf1 (author)Brucela2016-11-09

Not all plastics are actually waterproof. Initially they may seem to be but some do absorb water over time. Nylon is the most famous one I can think of off the top of my head. Crazy really because (standard) fishing line is made of nylon monofilament...

once curesld, wood glue does not melt in water.

kakungulu (author)Brucela2016-11-08

White glue is supposed to be water resistant once cured (polymerized).

Dillon45M (author)2016-11-08

Good idea


Eh Lie Us! (author)2016-11-08

Great idea on the mixer.

thanks, there's a separate instructable for it, the demos were fun to do

Straw_Cat (author)2016-11-08

You could experiment with poster paint powder or cement colouring agents to change the colour of your plastic. The cement colouring agents, available from masonry supply dealers, are usually some kind of heated iron or other mineral- heated under controlled conditions to produced different colours.

Some woodworkers mix poster paint in with epoxy to use as a contrasting filler. I don't know what the powder is, possibly also some kind of mineral powder...

I have often coloured PVA glue with poster paint, it makes a great effect. Dylon dyes (stuff for dying clothes in the wash) mixed in works well too

DreamDabbler (author)2016-11-08

Me LIKE! Now I want to try some experiments of my own. I think alcohol might make it set up very rapidly and make it very hard. Or maybe salt. Maybe try replacing the talc, or some of it, with baking soda. All sorts of different glues to try. A little borax might have an interesting effect.

Yes I read that borax is good but its really hard to get in Ireland

ZekeF (author)2016-11-04

Hey this is interesting....
do you think you could cut the into 1 inch squares and tell us how much the 30/70 sample weighs?
also I couldn't tell how thick it was, any measurements on that?

Good work and nice tests. Keep it up!

Left-field Designs (author)ZekeF2016-11-04

the samples were on average 5 mm thick. I could make up a 1 inch cube but I would need some basic mold and a few days to dry

You could possibly do some a4 3mm sheets and try laser cutting ? (Test it! Test it!)

I could certainly produce sheets that size and thickness with a simple frame and squeegee but I have no access to a laser cutter and it does burn, I think I'd rather try a hydrojet!

wenden_jason (author)2016-11-08

I don't know if you or work or a friend etc have one, or maybe if there's a makerspace near you, but I think a valuable test would be a laser cut test hint hint

Tbeeps (author)2016-11-08


you're welcome, it's all just curiosity with me, can I ask what you were planning for it?

IT'S ALL CURIOSITY WITH ME TOO, i wanted to use it to make model cars but i dont know the best way to do that so i have 2 questions;
1. can you send me some more recources
and 2' you want to be my friend, you seem nice. send me your email

cagrme (author)2016-11-08

maybe it can be used in 3d printers

I plan to make some more soon and try some "manual 3d printing" by extruding it from a dosing syringe

throbscottle (author)2016-11-08

I wonder if this would be a good replacement for injection moulded plastic headphone plug bodies????? I've been using hot-melt glue but it's a little bit soft. Epoxy putty is too hard.

jliberman13 (author)2016-11-08

I'd like to clarify that this isn't really a plastic, at least as you'd normally think of it. This is really a sort of composite material. I've done similar with cyanoacrylates and epoxies using baking soda or glass powder (respectively). Very nice Instructable though! You explained everything well and were very thorough when you were testing your batches.

I understand what you mean there, it was just the closest wording I had to describe it, I am an automation engineer and this is a fair bit out of my field

GTO3x2 (author)2016-11-08

That's one good idea for a mixer! LOL.


mteixeira figueiredo (author)2016-11-08


Did you notice any shrinking after drying?

This is very good



no shrinkage at all it did get slightly harder by the next day but still very pliable

Easonsgreetings (author)2016-11-08

I enjoyed this--thank you for laying out the steps of your experiment so clearly. AND, your tiny mixer is intriguing and ingenious--it looks impractical, but now I must try it!

NWOSUPROF (author)2016-11-07

Johnson's Baby Powder is no longer made from talcum. It is made from cornstarch for safety reasons. If older powders are used I would not recommend sanding the finished product as that will made the talc breathable which is apparently a bad thing.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am an automation engineer but I will give anything a go. I don't know if you call if pessimism or just being an ... More »
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