As part of the Instamorph BuildNight from Instructables, our Hackerspace Quelab, got 13 or so packs of Instamorph, we held 2 different buildnights, with some crock pots some silicone molds, and various colorants stamps, and the like. All to help others find a love for this hackable material ive had for a while now.
Instamorph is sold as a bag of a small 6-8mm BB of Polycaprolactone(PCL) pellets, there are various other brands out there as far as I can tell they mostly all work the same (except for the decorative foil covered stuff that comes as flat bars that is a totally different material.)
The best part about PCL is that it can be worked(melted) and reworked and reworked. and all you need is hot water or a heat gun to work it.
A month or so ago i was tinkering with connecting my Google Cardboard, to my Makey makey and wanted to find a way to afix the makey makey on my arm, so i could make a input glove. and decided to at least mock it up with Instamorph. In the process i learned several techniques which i will share with you!
This could just as easily be used to make a cellphone holder, or a custom watchband, (if doing it for a cell phone, id suggest making a longer thicker armband. just because of the weight difference)
Step 1: Gather Your Materials.
- Gather about 2 oz of fresh or recycled Instsamorph(PCL)
- Sharp scissors
- A crock pot, full of hot water, or a bowl of hot water (handy for later shaping and softening)
- And a makey makey to compare it to and or adjust for, (or whatever you decide to make your holder for.)
- (optional but very handy) a bowl of icewater (to quickly set/solidify your parts)
- (optional) A hot plate or cookeysheet on a heat resistant surface,
- (optional) a heat gun, if you don't have a hotplate, you can just heat the cookie sheet/plastic
Step 2: Get Your Heat On!
To make this you will need a Rectangle a little larger than the Makey Makey, and a long thin band about 9"-12" long.
I used my flat griddle on my waffle-maker to melt the Instamporph, it could be done and rolled out by just melting the beads in hot water, but i found it was handy to be able to do this on a warm surface anyway to increase my flattening out and shaping time.
For the main Makey makey holder I melted it flattened it out then let it cool, and flipped it over, and melted it, to make both sides as flat as i could. The first two times it was too thick and not long enough, so i just re melted it and stretched it, and then did the flattening it and cooling and flipping and remelting. until both sides were pretty flat and it was a little larger than i needed. (about 1/2" all around larger than the Makey Makey)
Take sharp scissors and cut off the excess 1/2 inch on the top and bottom of the long edge. Re melt that into a thin 1/2" wide 10' long strip of flat (using the above method of shaping, cooling flipping and cooling), when it was about 10" long I coiled it around about 1.5 times and dunked it in cold water (this is the arm band) set it aside.
Step 3: Shaping and Making a Rivet.
Shaping is pretty simple, i dipped the ends of the large rectangle into hot water(in my crock pot, you could just microwave a bowl of water too) until it was semi clear. and then just folded it up over the sides of the makey makey (i chose to leave the back of the board uncovered because most of my gloves interface (and the bluetooth module when i get it ready) plugin on the back
Let the makey makey and its plastic bit cool. (obviously probably don't want to dunk the makey makey in cold water, although if you dried it before use it would not matter much)
When cool make sure you can remove the makey makey but that it grips it well.
Now with other Instamorph, (about a 20mm marble sized chunk i recycled, its blue because i had colored the original with a sharpie marker) Melt it down, and split it into three chunks
I took two of the chunks, and rolled them into a ball and smashed them with a penny to make a flat disk about the diameter of a penny,
I took the remaining plastic and made it into a thin stick about 1/2" long and about 1/8" around
I then heated up a screwdriver and made a hole in both of the disks(making them look like washers) and also in the band and in the makey makey frame. I also wound up using some needle nose pliers which i also heated up to make the hole in the makey makey and in one of the disks
Heat one end of the little stick of instamorph and mash it through the hole in the disk with the smaller hole (making it look like a blunt Thumb Tack)
Step 4: Assembly
After verifying that the thumb tack could poke through all 3 remaining holes. (the band, and the holder and the other washer)
I heated up the head of the ghumbtackuntilit was pliable and poked it through from the inside of the armband, poking outwards, i then folded the rest of the head of the "tack" around the band to anchor it in place and let it cool
I then slid the makey makey holder onto the tack, and lastly the washer. i then took the tip of a flat blade screwdriver and got it hot. with a heat gun (a lighter or candle woudl work) and then melted the "point" of the tack down into the hole of the washer welding the two together.
Once cool I tested to make sure it was securely affixed, the makey makey holder can swivel around on the shaft of the rivet but it is held there fast.
I then tested it on both my wrist and on my upper arm, and found its a little snug on my upper arm but a little loose on my wrist, I may still hit it with the heat gun and make it a tighter coil
Step 5: All Done!
Enjoy, the technique for riveting Instamorph, and making sheets of it could be useful for a large number of projects!
I very much enjoy PCL plastic, I make rings and bracelets with the main purpose of looking nice, but also being there when i'm stuck somewhere and quickly need to make a knob, or a something to cover something sharp. or perhaps fix a leaking boat!
Credit where it is due,
The rivet idea came from this youtube video
As always thanks to my cohorts and friends at my Hackerspace Quelab that keep me tinkering and building and keep inspiring me.