Plastic Paper Clips From Recycled Gift Cards




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!

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    9 years ago on Introduction

    My son LOVES instructables. And I love gift cards. This is the perfect project for both of us! I've seen the guitar pick punch online. It's nice because it's automatic, but is limited in that it only makes one shape. I love your manual, more creative solution!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    The small image of the hand makes it look like it's wearing a ring! 
    The red part of the card makes a beautiful ruby :D


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Your right! I didn't even notice that.