Introduction: Plastic Paper Clips From Recycled Gift Cards

About: Matthew was previously a STEAM integrator with a private K-8 school. He loves taking things apart to see how they work, and will sometimes put those things back together. Much of his time is spent working with…

Do you ever want a paperclip that's at least a little different then every other paperclip out there?  Metal paper clips are really useful, and do a great job, but sometimes I just want something a little different.

That's where plastic paperclips come in!  Though, the ones sold in stores tend to make me pine for the normality of the metal paper clip.  I still wanted something different though!  So when instructables came into possession of several Duane Reade club cards, I knew I had my chance!

Step 1: Materials

Any type of Club Card, Credit Card or Gift Card type item. (preferably one that's no longer good)
A Laser Cutter (or X-Acto Blade)
(if using a laser cutter you'll need the appropriate software)
A little bit of spare time.

Step 2: Template

There are lots and lots of types of paper clips.  If you do a google image search on "plastic paper clips" you can start to get some ideas on shapes and designs that might go over well.

If you're using an X-Acto blade:
  • Draw design on card (I'd recommend keeping the template fairly simple).
  • Get ready to cut out your design.
If you're using a laser cutter:
  • Open up whatever software you plan to use.
  • Make a template of the card.
    • Measure your cards dimensions
    • Draw a box to scale in your program.
    • Cut card template out of cardboard or acrylic so you can ensure you're card goes back in in the exact same spot every time.
  • Create whatever spectacle of a design (or simple design if you don't want to show off)
  • Get ready to print.

Step 3: Cut

Now that you're template is ready, it's time to cut!

For X-Acto blades:
  • Start cutting out your template!
If you're on a laser cutter:
  • Find the appropriate settings and hit print.
    • (I found for my card, in vector cut mode, speed: 50, Power: 100, Frequency: 5000)

Step 4: Enjoy Your Newly Recycled Paperclip

Bask in the glory of a homemade paperclip!

There were only three designs that worked really well for me.

Simple straight and curved lines. (if you did the google search, you saw a bunch of these. You saw them for a reason, they work very well!)

The instructables hand (there's an eps version on the site that I tweaked a bit).  I found the need to add small straight lines at the end of each of the files I was cutting to give the paper a place to sit.  (See the pictures below for what I'm talking about)

All of the designs I used (that worked) are available in the .eps file linked below.

Step 5: Tragic Failures

With all great things comes the occasional epic failure.  There were several designs that didn't work at all for me.

One coworker suggested I attempt to use the Empire State Building.  The problem is that unless you put it upside down, it's a bit too skinny to clip on.  (thinking on it now, I suppose you could just clip an upside down clip from the bottom of the page...but who does that?)

Another piece is a hand, before I figured out how to break apart lines in Corel Draw.  (If you hide a cut under a box that has no color...the cut still happens)

The final failure (well, kind of) is a paperclip based on the San Francisco Muni design.  Since I ride public transportation everywhere, I figured it'd be nice to sport on the bus. Unfortunately there's too many random/stray lines going on, so when you try to clip it it keeps getting caught.  I'm sure I could fix it, I just don't want to take the time.  These are all very quick, very easy things to make (no need to mess that up with a four hour project).

Other then that, I'm quite happy with these, and they work really well.  The key chain ones are especially nice!