Re-use and Combine. Recycle Old Instamorph and Re-purpose a Phone

Introduction: Re-use and Combine. Recycle Old Instamorph and Re-purpose a Phone

About: Make:Bromyard is a rural makerspace in Bromyard, Herefordshire.

This Instructable was written by Make:Bromyard member _soapy_


About 8 years ago I used some Polymorph (also the same stuff as Instamorph - Polycaprolactone) to make the "Bone Phone". It is semi-famous in the small world of locksmithing. However, after all this time sticking out my pocket, getting hit by UV from welding, sparks from cutting and general wear & tear, the plastic has started to degrade, with bits cracking off. The first time around, I simply re-melted it a bit with some boiling water, but it now needs some actual fixing, so I decided to re-create it for Instructables.

Step 1: Reinforcing and Re-using an Old Mobile Phone

Who doesn't have an old mobile phone? I've got about 5, but the most used is this one I modified to help with my job.

It's a Sony K800i. A rock solid phone, it now mostly functions as an alarm clock, pocket watch and special "What's behind the door?" camera.

If you are wondering about that last bit, rather like a postman, you never want to put your fingers through a letterbox as a locksmith. And I'm a locksmith. Getting bitten by a dog the owner assures you is friendly is just as bad as getting bitten by a dog. So, with this in mind, what do we do?

Step 2: Stuff Required

For this project, I bought a hard plastic protector for the phone, and a rubber band. I re-used these, as well as the heat-mouldable plastic, and I added more fresh plastic to the mix.

Step 3: First, Melt the Old One

As we all know, plastic in all it's forms are not as strong as steel, and for a design you would use a huge amount of plastic where a simple slender bit of metal rod would do the job better. But you can't mould steel with your fingers, to make it hold the phone nicely so...

Let's combine the two!

The steel stops it flexing when turned into a long rod, and also from failing suddenly, as the cracks are easily seen and strength retained. However, you can recycle the old plastic by heating it up and mixing it with new stuff, so we will be doing that too.

Instamorph is a heat mouldable plastic designed to melt at a low temperature, meaning that it is easy to shape with the heat from a cup of boiling water, and is hand safe to mould. When hot it is transparent and squidgy, when cold it is as nearly as hard and tough as nylon! It doesn't really stick to anything besides itself.

Step 4: Recycle the Polymorph / Instamorph

Also, after 5 or so years of use and outdoor exposure, you will notice that your Instamorph (actually, this was old Polymorph, but it is the same stuff chemically) becomes brittle and weird. I cracked the remaining plastic off the steel core, and then added it to the bowl of boiling water. It took a while to melt, and looked rather ugly. I encouraged it with the fork.

This also left me with the 3mm steel rod I had used, a bit of piano wire. I re-used this.

Step 5: Ew! Gross.

This is how it looked after a few minutes. I fished it out with the fork. Looking at it it was absolutely disgusting! If I didn't know what it was, I'd never had touched it.

Basically, the new Instamorph I was adding was a gamble, and rather than waste it using brand new granules, I recycled some that my wife had tried adding red food colouring to, a couple of weeks previously. That was a big fail, and looked kind of horrible, so I decided to recycle it into this, just in case the old Polymorph didn't melt properly, or it didn't set properly or something.

This mix was about 50/50 old and new, all heated up.

Step 6: Wrap Around the Steel Rod

I squished it up so that it was a bit better blended, and got a horrid looking lump, then grabbed the 3mm piano steel rod I was using. This is slightly bent, after the near decade of being battered around, but is still perfectly capable of holding the phone.

Step 7: Mould to the Phone

Now press the soft plastic onto the bottom edge of the phone (or rather, the protector case). Take care to avoid the working bits, like the physical shutter or "Take a photo" button, which will vary according to the donor handset.

One slight modification I made to this version from my trusty old one was to make the whole thing about an inch
longer. I extended the end that holds the camera past the end of the bar this time, making it twice as long as the phone, without losing any rigidity.

(The first version I tried all those years ago had no metal rod, and was either too flimsy, or would have used far more of the expensive plastic.)

Step 8: Clean Up While You Wait for It to Cool

Instamorph with food colouring and old random bits of Polymorph (basically the same stuff) all mashed together gave an interesting texture, but you can tell when it is soft because it is still semi-transparent, but when hard it turns back to the white (or pink) you expect. The food dye didn't really work out that great, but the greater mixing I did made for a better effect. I'd recommend against the food dye - an oil based one might work better, but I don't know. Water based certainly does not!

Normally, too, the bowl has no residue at all. With this re-mix, there was some. It was a bit yuck too, but once cold it shattered away easily. I'll likely throw this bit in the bin - there isn't much, it was a thin smear, rather like paint or epoxy would be.

Step 9: Result: World's Weirdest Mobile Phone Holder

"No, officer, I wasn't hold my phone, I was holding this weird mutant chicken bone."*

Secure the phone to the stick with the rubber band.

So, there we have it. Now I can put the phone through to check for our four legged f<r>iends in safety. It also comes in handy for seeing if keys are in the back of locks (Euro cylinders don't open if the key is in the back, even after picking)

*Not guaranteed to avoid tickets.

Step 10: Bonus Action Shots

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Participated in the
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    3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing a pretty good idea.