Rapid Prototyping With Polymer Clay




About: Electromechanical Engineer, Product Designer, Maker. I love to make prototypes and teach others in the process. I graduated from UCF and spent two years working at NASA.

Polymer clay is a great material to use for rapid prototyping your projects. It is very heat resistant and does not dry out unless baked. I use it to make temporary enclosures, to help with soldering and as a third hand to hold things in place. I love to use it when soldering a ton of through hole components to a board. If you wanted to, you could make a permanent enclosure for you project by baking the clay after shaping it. It also drills very well after it has been baked.

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Step 1: Use It to Help With Soldering

The high heat resistance makes polymer clay a great material to use when soldering components in place. If it gets too hot for too long, it will start to harden. You can just throw away the parts of the clay that hardened and continue using the rest. In this video, you can see how I use polymer clay to hold the components onto the board while I solder the connections.

Step 2: Which Clay to Use

I use SuperSculpey for projects where I need an extra firm clay. I use Sculpey III for general purpose and to help with soldering. You can find them on online or at your local craft store. I buy the SuperSculpey on Amazon because my local stores do not carry it. I have tried a large variety of brands and Sculpey is by far my favorite because it does not leave a residue on my hands, parts, or work surfaces. A lot of other brands either dry out, the color bleeds, or they don't hold up well enough for use with soldering. Make sure you do not buy clay with a glitter or metallic composition. They will leave a nasty residue on your parts. Hopefully this instructable will help you with your future rapid prototypes.

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    5 Discussions

    Proto GRaitis

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks. Yes, Sculpey polymer clay is dielectric. I can't speak for other brands though.

    RaitisProto G

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I guess if some of them had low resistance there would be uses for that too. Just had some ideas, the only issue is I suck at sculpting. Or more correctly - haven't really tried it with poly clay. :D

    Proto Gtomatoskins

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks. The clay really speeds things up quite a bit when soldering kits with a lot of through hole components. I also kinda use it like helping hands sometimes.