Tableware Made From 'Wood Silicone'

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Together with three other art students, I was challenged to develop a new kind of material. Together we experimented with silicone rubber and we decided to use this material as a starting point. After a lot of experiments we discovered that mixing silicone rubber with sawdust made the silicone rubber much more firmer. And, the sawdust gave the silicone rubber a wooden look and feel. We decided to create a set of tableware with this material.

The set that we developed looks like it was made from wood. The silicone rubber enables the set to be much easier to wash and to store. The set is also unbreakable and water resistant.

In this Instructable I will show which steps we took to create and apply the 'Wood Silicone'. It's so easy to make and it has a variety of possibilities! Feel free to experiment with this material yourself and keep me posted about your results!

Step 1: Collect and Sieve the Sawdust

The sawdust you are going to mix with the silicone rubber has to be very refined. That's why we decided to sieve the dust we found in the dust extraction system of the wood workshop.
You can experiment with sawdust from different kinds of wood, which will result in different kinds of colors.

Step 2: Mix the Silicone Rubber

Silicone rubber always comes with a hardener. In order to use and apply the rubber, you have to mix the two components. We had to maintain the ratio 1 silicone rubber to 10 hardener, but the proportions always depend on the type and brand of silicone rubber. I advise you to read the description of the rubber or to consult an expert.

Another possibility is to use Bison Kit. This is a ready to use silicon rubber, so you don't have to worry about mixing, proportions and hardeners. We experimented with Bison Kit in combination with sawdust, and it worked pretty well. The consistency differs from the silicone rubber we used, Bison Kit is a bit thicker. So mixing it with the sawdust will be more difficult.

Step 3: Mix Everything Together

Now the fun part begins; mixing the silicone rubber with the sawdust!

Collect all the sawdust in a big bucket, so you have a nice work space. You have to mix the silicone rubber with the sawdust until it's fully saturated. You know that the silicone rubber is saturated when it doesn't takes up sawdust anymore.
Keep adding tiny bits of sawdust to the silicone rubber. Once the silicone rubber has become a big lump lump, you can take it out of its bowl and knead it in your hands. Keep adding sawdust until it's fully saturated. Don't add more sawdust when pieces silicone rubber and sawdust are falling apart, it has to stay a little sticky.

Step 4: Grease Your Molds

Choose a mold you want to use for the wood silicone. We used different molds to see what would work and what wouldn't work.
To make sure that you can easily remove the 'Wood Silicon' from the mold when the material is dry, you should first grease your mold.
We used special mold grease from the silicone workshop.

Step 5: Molding the Wood Silicon

Once your molds are greased, you can start claying and molding. Press small bits of wood silicone against the mold. The material is sticky, so it can stick to your gloves. Covering your gloves with some sawdust or grease can help to prevent this.

Step 6: Experiment!

The best thing about this material is that you can experiment a lot with it. Try different kinds of sawdust, silicon rubber and molds.
The experiments shown in the pictures above are our experiments that were not entirely successful. Some of them didn't survive it to be removed from the mold or weren't the shapes we were looking for. But we learned a lot from these experiments...

Step 7: The End Result

...and after that we found the right shapes and made a set of tableware we can actually use!

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    23 Discussions

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    bizburchell

    4 years ago

    Once it's all mixed together, is the material sturdy enough to mold your own shapes or do you think it needs a tangible object to create it?

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    Ganhaar

    4 years ago on Step 7

    how does it perform functionally? How does its stiffness compare to other plastics, have you tried it in the dishwasher or microwave, do the wood fibres absorb water? I was inspired some time ago by a guy running a sustainable building centre in Austin experimenting with siliconised wood and this builds on that idea.

    Also did you look at silicon versus silicone?

    Thanks
    Wayne

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    JoekevdvGanhaar

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I found out the silicone rubber is resistant to heating such as the microwave. According to Wikipedia: 'Thermal stability (constancy of properties over a wide temperature range of −100 to 250 °C).'

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    JoekevdvGanhaar

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Wayne,

    It is waterproof, the wood fibers don't absorb water. The silicone became surprisingly firm by mixing it with sawdust, so it functions properly. Compared with other plastics it seems just as strong, but more flexible. We thought it would be perfect as, for example, picnic set, because it seems to be unbreakable, flexible and easy to clean. Good question about the dishwasher and microwave, didn't tried it yet. Silicon vs silicone, also a question I cannot answer yet! But thank you for the new input.

    Siliconised wood, sounds interesting!

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    ZaneEricB

    4 years ago on Introduction

    I dig this. I have a question about toxicity in the sawdust. Some lumber is treated....seeing as you got this from the woodshop, i assume they were using raw dry wood?

    i also want to know how this holds up in extreme heat such as in the microwave or left out in the sun....thoughts?

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    JoekevdvZaneEricB

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I must be honest, I have no idea... It's definitely something to look for the next time we are going to use the material, thank you.
    According to Wikipedia: 'Thermal stability (constancy of properties over a wide temperature range of −100 to 250 °C).'
    The material is resistant to the microwave ;).

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    apolline

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi,

    As cofounder of a french fablab, I think it is a wonderful idea ! Bravo !

    We have plenty of sawdust in here and are looking for solutions to reuse it in a intelligent way like yours. I saw your talking about picnic stuff, great ! My only question is in a sanitary consideration, is it safe to put your food in it ?

    Thanks for your answer !

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    Joekevdvapolline

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, thank you! I ate and drank out of it, and I'm still alive ;). We did research to silicone, and different resources (for example Wikipedia and our product design teacher who is familiar with the materials we used) told us it has a low toxicity level.

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    bulwynkl

    4 years ago on Introduction

    if you want to make much finer material, there is an instructable somewhere using corn starch and silicone as a Sugru substitute. similar idea. something like this... https://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-Your-Own-Sugru-Substitute/

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    JoekevdvDave A

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, I agree with you that the name could be a little more creative ;).

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    niki6371

    4 years ago

    my question: is it waterproof as well? Wondered if the saw dust could be stained b4 mixing in the silicon and be used as a flooring like cork is.

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    Joekevdvniki6371

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    If you mix it good enough, and not with too many sawdust, the wood fibers will be covered with silicone which makes it waterproof.

    I think it is a very interesting idea, but I wonder if it's not too expensive. By mixing it with sawdust you can use less silicone, but I think it would be still quite expensive in such large amounts. I'm not sure!

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    doodlecraft

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, totally interesting! I've never invented a new material--way to go! :)

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    fozzy13

    4 years ago on Introduction

    This is a really cool idea. Thanks for sharing!