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If you're making a prop like this and are having trouble drilling through an exceptionally hard piece of steel, take the part out of your prop and heat it up with a torch until it changes color into the reds and starts to glow some, then allow it to air cool to the touch (don't quench it in water or you'll have wasted your effort). This will soften the metal so that you can drill through it easier, if you want to harden it again after you're done, reheat to the same color and then quench it in room temperature water.
Another possible technique to strengthen your mix without having to resort to purchasing steel is to use fiber reinforcement. Commercially, there are multiple materials used such as glass, nylon, polypropylene, steel, etc. in various arrangements (monofilament, bundle, bunch, etc.). Here's an article with some tips on using fiber reinforced concrete: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/fiber-reinforced-... Here's an article from MakeZine with a mix design for glass reinforced concrete used to make a coffee table:http://makezine.com/2012/04/11/how-to-mix-and-mold... In addition to using the fibers, I would recommend processing your plastic further by grinding it into smaller pieces for a more uniform shape and a better surface area to volume ratio. Plastics themselves make poor concrete aggregates as they lack the surface microtexture to make a good mechanical bond with the cement-aggregate slurry unless they are reduced in size. Additionally, I would believe that as the concrete hydrates, they would form a weak chemical bond, which can be minimized similarly by the reduction in plastic aggregate size. What would be interesting is if you could shred the plastic into coarse fiber curls and use them as an alternative low-cost reinforcement technique?
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