I had discovered that HDPE was a extremely strong material that if heated could be formed into new things and given new purpose. In this instructable I'll be turning a couple shampoo bottles and a bubbles container into a new colorful material with 1000 uses. Hope you enjoy.
Step 1: Breaking Down the Materials
For this project we're using only #2 HDPE used containers. All the container lids and labels have been removed and the residual residue has been thoroughly washed out. You can usually cut the HDPE with scissors if its not too thick. Cut the bottles into small pieces or you can layer flat pieces of material and then twist it after its melted.
Step 2: Get to Melting, Use Caution
***Please use caution as this stuff when heated is like bubble gum napalm and will stick and burn everything it touches so use proper safety gear like gloves, mitts , eye protection and tools***
Note: I bid on this little oven on ebay for $8 and won so you could probably find one at a yardsale, ebay, or on craigslist. Please don't ruin your oven or destroy any cooking implements you have for a project. This oven is used only for this purpose.
Load all your HDPE chips or sheets onto a metal pan. Insert them into the oven starting at the lowest temp your oven will do. Slowly raise the temp little by little till you find the sweet spot and the HDPE is softening up. Using oven mitts remove the material from the oven and turn and compress the material with a spatula (preferably metallic). Return the material back to the oven and check it regularly. After the HDPE is a uniform softness about the consistency of chewing gum its time to press it.
Step 3: Pressing, Flattening, Molding
Take your hot HDPE material and place it between two pieces of flat solid material like wood, steel, or other structurally sound items. You can now use wood clamps, a vice clamp, or shop press. I'll be using a shop press like device that I made in another instructable. The two boards are smashed together with 4,000 lbs of pressure and flatten out relatively well. The material was given about 30 minutes to cool and then removed from the shop press. The result is a colorful, strong, mold and mill due resistant, water proof material that will last longer than we will. It can be cut, welded, re-melted and reused again and again.
Step 4: Lets Make Something
I decided to try out some disk shapes and traced out circles using a spray paint can lid. Using a jig saw to cut out the circles I followed the lines previously drawn on. The results were some very colorful disk about the size of drink coasters. I finished them off by sanding the edges and removing excess shavings. While I was doing this my girls used them as hopscotch markers and were thrilled with them.
Step 5: Wheel, Puck, Disc, Washer Toss? Endless Possibilities
Our final product today are these small everlasting colorful disc. My girls played with them for about an hour and for free entertainment that's not too bad. Hope you all enjoyed this and hope it inspired you to reuse those materials around your house for their second life. Countries are no longer able to sell their recyclables to other countries and now have to pay to have them disposed of. Take these out of the loop and make them your own. You already pay for the material when you buy the product so why not get that little extra out of your milk, shampoo, or other #2 HDPE containers. Peace