Making Plastic With Glue

Introduction: Making Plastic With Glue

About: I am an automation engineer but I will give anything a go. I don't know if you call if pessimism or just being an engineer, but I look for problems everywhere, then I look for some weird, left field way to s...

This instructable is an experiment in making my own plastic using glue as the main binder material.

Step 1: What You Will Need

For this instructable you will need the following:

- PVA Glue

- Talc Powder (material to be bound)

- Mixing cup

- A harp inter-dental cleaner

- A Dremel multi

- A palette to spread samples on

- A spreader

Step 2: Make the Mixer

An inter-dental cleaner mounted in the chuck of a Dremel makes an amazing mixer for small batch mixing. Check out my instructable for one here: Dremel Small Batch Mixer

Step 3: Make Up the Mix

Everything for this instructable was done by weight (I don't know a better way of making direct comparisons between viscus liquids and very aerated solids)

I put 50g of glue into the mixing cup

This was followed with 50g of talc.

I used the Dremel mixer to agitate the mix for approximately 3 mins.

I have to admit that even though I had covered the top of the mixing cup I may have lost a couple of grams of talc into the air as I mixed. Should I do this again I would put the talc in first and add the glue on top to prevent the spray into the air.

I made a second batch, still at 100g but this time it was 30g glue and 70g talc.

Step 4: Spread for Drying

I made up a sample palette in order to test the samples against each other.

I found a cardboard box that for some reason is so waxy that PVA glue does not stick to it.

I laid out a sample of pure glue as a control

I then spread out my 2 samples 50/50 and 70/30

I did my best with the spreader to make sure that the samples were a uniform thickness all over and that they were all as thick as each other.

The samples were left to dry over night.

Step 5: Release the Samples and Analyise

After the samples had been given 24 hours to dry (3 of them on top of a warm radiator), I gently removed them from the palette.

As expected the pure glue sample was clear, as far as I know a thin layer of PVA always dries clear. The other 2 samples were white due to the talc.

Now it was time for a suite of tests...


The control sample was very soft, like a piece of laytex

The 50/50 sample was tougher but still extremely flexible but more difficult to stretch

The 70/30 sample was very firm but still flexible, I could not stretch it at all but it did not tear either.

Cutting all samples with a sharp box cutter was possible but as expected as the mix got thicker, the cutting became moe difficult.

Step 6: Machining and Shaping

As the aim of this instuctable was to make plastic I wanted to see how workable the material was.

Using my Dremel multi and a small sanding drum, I set about trying to create a straight edge on each sample.

The control was so soft that it just flapped about when the drum contacted.

The 50/50 took a good clean edge, however the glue did melt a little with the heat of the friction and started to create quite a large burr that had to be sanded off afterwards.

The 70/30 was the best sample to machine, it took a good straight edge with a considerable amount of work from the Dremel, (considering I have used this same attachment to shape small metal components). There was also minimal burr afterward for cleaning.

Step 7: Burning

If you are making parts or models, you want to know how flammable they may be,

For this I introduced the samples to a direct flame:

The control burst into flames immediately, the flames were large and produced considerable smoke, this is not surprising considering it is made from pure glue..

The 50/50 took a flame for about 60 seconds before catching fire, the flames were small and spread slowly but what remained was obviously mostly talc and so crumbled into powder.

The 70/30 took a direct flame for more that 3 mins before it caught fire, the flames were very small and extinguished withing 3-4 seconds after only travelling 2mm in from the edge.

Step 8: Forming

This was the test I was most interested in.

If I was to make large sheets of this material, could I use heat to form it into a shape and set it.

I applied indirect heat to the samples and shaped them to 90 degrees over the edge of my bench while hot, I allowed them to cool and set to the following effect:

The control bent under it's own weight, then cooled and placed on a flat surface it returned to flat.

The 50/50 sample took the bend quite well with a relatively small amount of heat, however once cooled and placed on a flat surface, it lost some of the set and the angle opened up by about 20 degrees.

The 70/30 sample took considerable heat before it bent, once it cooled and was placed on the flat surface it held the exact angle it was set to, it is still pliable but it always tries to return to the 90 degree angle.

Step 9: Conclusions

I believe that this material in the 70/30 configuration would be a suitable material for use in model making, both as a flat material to be machined and formed but as a molding material to make figurines.

I have 2 future ideas for this material:

1. pour it over an existing item and use it to create a negative, I will then coat the inside of this negative with a release material such as wax or Never Wet and then refill with the same material to create a replica.
2. Use an existing mold, like the ones used for plaster molding and fill with this material, i don't know what the drying time for such a large block would be, but that may be another instructable.

It didn't quite turn out like the plastic I was expecting but I think it did become something useful. I am going to try again with a different solid material like sand or sugar and see what the effect is on the final product.

If you enjoyed this instructable please vote for it in the glue competition, thanks

Glue Challenge 2016

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    65 Discussions

    I like this and wonder if you have yet make negatives etc from this yet or ever plan to.

    Yes I read below, but it has been some time since then.

    Thank you :)

    3 replies

    PS I did vote for you earlier when this was posted if you read below :)

    Thanks, I won a runner-up prize so your vote counted! I haven't had too much time to get back to it, to be honest. I wanted to set up for bigger batches before testing molding and such. Unfortunately I move (temporarily) and have no shed to work in, I risk divorce if I wreck the house with talc and glue. Hopefully next year will sort a workshop and get back to this.

    Ah ok then. Don't get a divorce lol.

    I like to experiment as well. I use to have a large box [microwave sized about] that held my experiments.

    When doing them or done they could be moved out of the way easily.

    This way I had one little space that was mine, I could put it on a shelf when done or even in the middle of something.

    Could move it to work on it etc. Worked for me anyhow :)

    Ok then, enjoy and have fun :)

    I have been sitting here thinking about a chess set that I have been considering. Does this plastic release from a mold easily?

    1 reply

    I actually haven't had a chance to try moulding yet. if you try will you post your result in think cheap plaster moulds are a good place to start or maybe 2 part lead moulds.


    1 year ago

    The talc idea is excellent. You might also consider colloidal silica - which is available from fiberglass manufacturers as a powder. It is used as a filler. Aso used as a densifier in concrete. However its not as cheap or readily available as Talc (Magnesium Silicate). Talc works because it absorbs moisture and so takes the glue up well. When dry, its stable - same as the Silica. Another material that is cheap, readily available and with similar properties is cornstarch (but might not last as long). Its used to make Oogoo which is a Sugru substitute.

    5 replies

    someone said in one of the comments that Johnsons is actually not talc and is cornstarch, I dunno o need to look at the container

    It appears that some Talcs sold in the USA are entirely cornstarch or a cornstarch blend. It must say on the container.
    Talc in volume is very cheap - try a pottery supplies place. Or try the Colloidal silica from any Fibreglass place - West systems makes a convenient size.

    WRT why cornstarch is replacing Talc - They make more money selling cornstarch (almost free to make, vs mining and milling and refining Talc) and so have published false scares about Talc causing Cancer. Fear is the Key to manipulate people apparently.
    But the Cancer society has the best info:.

    my ex husband use to work at a cornstarch factory if you knew how it was made you would not be using it, it too me years to go back to using cornstarch after being shown how it was made? My other option would be rice flour I used that in place of cornstartch for years...??just took longer to make gravies that's all ?

    I reckon the real reason that J&J's baby powder in the US is no longer made from talc (assuming that's true) is that a St Louis court made an award of tens of $millions against the company earlier this year in respect of a woman who had died of ovarian cancer. With the prospect of further law suits to come, the risk of continuing to sell talc is too great, even though the scientific evidence against it is far from conclusive.

    Personally I'd prefer the information coming from the Cancer society. There's enough fake news and ignorance around at the moment.

    I think this might solve a fabrication conundrum I've been trying to figure out for ages. Cheers!

    1 reply

    if it's something you can share when complete please do. I have been meaning to resist this with different particulate materials.

    Along the same lines as your great experiment:) I mentioned to a friend trouble i was having finding a glue that would hold a snapped plastic wheel support...the advice was superglue sprinkled with baking soda would set as a hard plastic and hold...and to theor credit it did...i dont know much about the properties but obviously not limited to one glue or powder...pvs however much safer and economical for larger pieces...superglue kept to repairs perhaps! Cheers;)


    1 year ago

    Brilliant idea! Mental note made.

    Perhaps you could make a 'moldable type of 'MDF' using finely sieved sawdust and PVA. May just test that myself, but if you're running tests of alternatives I'm happy to await your results, cheers for a fascinating instructible.

    1 reply

    I like that idea, though mdf is more than sawdust and glue (nasty chemicals in mdf) but it should make cleaning a model easier, I would like to mound models in rubber plaster casts.


    Ok I admit that I really like this idea.

    If it also has good tensile strength then I can see it having a use for repairing minor problems in other things.

    Great work.

    Also I loved that you used a control as well. :)

    Voted for you :)

    Thanks for this :)