Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Slowly sticky silicone
December 13, 2009 12:41 PM   Subscribe

Sugru—The best invention since Sellotape?

Sugru, the brainchild of former art student Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh, is a novel polymer clay that is designed to help people hack their everyday objects to be more ergonomic and useful. It comes out of the pack flexible, and strongly sticks to whatever it's touching over the next 24 hours before being heat and water resistant.

Some examples: fix a mobile phone keypad, plug a hole in your shoe, replace a broken chair foot. All in bright and cheerful colour!
posted by stepheno (78 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
21st century nerds are going to apply sugru on the bridge of their eyeglasses instead of white tape.
posted by cazoo at 12:46 PM on December 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


In b4 Pepsi Blu-Tack.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:48 PM on December 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


t-10 ten years until we find out it turns into flexible, flesh-eating zombies.
posted by The Whelk at 12:49 PM on December 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


So, it's like the spores in that Metalica video? It takes the place of the broken part, thus creating zombie broken things?

It's all well and good, but what if we pour it into the bodies of dead clunkers and then they seek revenge on the politicians who voted for their death?
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:53 PM on December 13, 2009


Wow better than Sellotape and Blu-Tack. I'd probably be impressed if I knew what they were.
posted by octothorpe at 12:53 PM on December 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


That was an expansion on your point, Whelk. Not a jinx.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:53 PM on December 13, 2009


Scotch tape and adhesive putty, octo.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:56 PM on December 13, 2009


>I'd be impressed if I knew what they were.

Those are wacky European names for Fun Tack and Scotch tape (same type of tape (clear and pressure sensitive), different brand). Just dub in those words, and it works just fine.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:58 PM on December 13, 2009


Very cool. Looks a bit like a solid analogue to this stuff, which saved me ditching an £80 pair of Bose headphones because of a cracked rubber joint at the meeting point between 'phone jackplug and cable. No zombie effects yet, but then it's only been two months.
posted by Len at 1:01 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I do love living in the future.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:02 PM on December 13, 2009


Billy Mays here. I may be dead, but I pitched the same thing with a better name - Mighty Putty.
posted by Frank Grimes at 1:03 PM on December 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


Cool, I can think of numerous mouths this needs to be applied to.
posted by jonmc at 1:04 PM on December 13, 2009


Also, I love how the comments section on the Daily Telegraph story almost immediately devolves into a tutting warning about how the youth of today will inevitably use this stuff for vandalism. Don't ever change, Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells!
posted by Len at 1:05 PM on December 13, 2009 [9 favorites]


I may be dead, but I pitched the same thing with a better name

FTA: "The silicone is made from a new product trademarked as Formerol, which is far more flexible than the mouldable epoxy resins on the market, which tend to go rock hard when dry."
posted by effbot at 1:10 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pepsi Glue?

This needs to be shaped with Play-Doh-like molds and shaping tools for common household items - cup handles, coin-sized slices for replacing the 'feet' on household items, etc.

Very cool.
posted by chambers at 1:11 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


the same thing with a better name - Mighty Putty

Well, except that Mighty Putty is an epoxy resin, while Sugru is silicone. Mighty Putty dries to be completely hard ("rock hard" according to the website), while Sugru maintains a slight flex. They're likely very similar to use, and probably have different things each would be useful for. But they are not the same product at all.
posted by hippybear at 1:15 PM on December 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Pepsi glue.
posted by ardgedee at 1:16 PM on December 13, 2009


or, on non preview, what effbot said
posted by hippybear at 1:18 PM on December 13, 2009


gah.

Anyway. There's a photo on that site that bothers me. I'm unclear why you'd want finger grips on your cut-down handlebars.
posted by ardgedee at 1:18 PM on December 13, 2009


This actually looks quite useful. Golf clap.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:20 PM on December 13, 2009


I can't wait to see what case-modders do with this.
posted by oddman at 1:26 PM on December 13, 2009


It looks to me like Mighty Putty is less safe. It warns in the ads that it is not safe for patching pipes with potable water, while this stuff is shown being used on servingware that goes in the dishwasher.

Plus, this is meant to be soft and squishy like silicone, which is much more ergonomic than hard epoxy.

I never bought mighty putty, but if I'm going to stock one type of hardening polymer clay, it'll be Sugru. It looks especially useful for repairing broken electronics cases, which are what I most usually find myself throwing out perfectly good things over.

I also anticipate some of the dumber drivers using this stuff to put dorky patterns on the side of their car. I'll laugh, which will make my daily commute much better. And one nerd will probably add dimples or grooves that make the car more aerodynamic for better milage.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:26 PM on December 13, 2009


hmm. I’ve got some. It’s pretty good, but doesn’t stick well to all plastics. It’s more solid than I was expecting. It tears quite easily when set too, if you try to make thin parts.

Having said that, I just fixed a hopeless tool box that came with a heatgun i bought (everytime i opened it I would be confronted by a jumble of nozzles all fallen out of their holes) Sugru was the perfect thing to make little rubbery stoppers to hold everything in place.

Also, It goes a lot further than you think. One of the little packs (you get 10 in a multi-hack pack) is actually enough for most things unless you’re thinking of actually fabricating something out of huge lumps of the stuff.
posted by silence at 1:28 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I noticed that they are bright colors..."

"Well, Sugru is designed for people that want to enjoy repairing.

I'm a little put-off by the conflation of bright colors and happiness. What if I want to enjoy not feeling like a pre-schooler when I use my Sugru?
posted by ropeladder at 1:30 PM on December 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Tacky.
posted by 7segment at 1:30 PM on December 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Would you advise having some on hand, silence?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:33 PM on December 13, 2009


Ah, so someone's finally commercialized the putty that workers in leprosy hospitals have used for years to fabricate custom grips for tools and utensils for their patients. I remember seeing this in the 1980s, though it was an unfashionable industrial greyish brown back then. Needless to say it didn't have a chirpy Irish salesperson, and its core user base were perceived to be a bunch less photogenic.
posted by scruss at 1:38 PM on December 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I remember seeing this in the 1980s, though it was an unfashionable industrial greyish brown back then.

I don't know what you saw in the 1980s, but it wasn't Formerol, which was developed in 2003.
posted by hippybear at 1:51 PM on December 13, 2009


it's rtv silicon mold putty. been around for a number of years in the usa at least.
here's some alternate versions...
Aero Marine Silicone Rubber Putty
Alley Goop 2 Part RTV Silicone Mold Putty
Alumilite Mold putty
Amazing Mold Putty
Angie Scarr MinitMold
Castaldo Quik Sil 2 Part RTV Mold
Easy Mold Putty from Dick Blick Art Materials Buy Direct
Expert's Choice Mold Putty
Jiffy Mold by paperclay
Po Yo Silicon Mold Putty
Puffalina Miracle Mold
Ranger Mold-N-Pour
Wacker Elastosil Putty
posted by billybobtoo at 2:11 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


it's rtv silicon mold putty

No it isn't. RTV silicone doesn't stick to things except itself.
posted by hippybear at 2:19 PM on December 13, 2009


I ordered some of this last week or so, but I'm having to wait until they manufacture another batch, apparently. I'm guessing I'll find roughly the same uses for it as for epoxy putty, with the advantage of a bit of flex (obviously in some cases this is a disadvantage) and also without the risk of epoxy sensitization (a definite advantage).
posted by hattifattener at 2:21 PM on December 13, 2009


hippybear: RTV silicone adhesive caulk definitely exists.
posted by hattifattener at 2:22 PM on December 13, 2009


hattifattener: which is not the same as mold putty. I used to make rtv molds in a jewelry production house, and I promise you, we would never use a material which bonds to metal to make such molds.

I think the genius of this substance is likely that it isn't going to eat away your skin while you use it. Whether it actually does a literal "room temperature vulcanizing" process like these other processes, I cannot say because the literature is pretty hush-hush about its mechanism and composition. I certainly believe them when they say this is a new animal within the silicone family of goo, because it seems to work in ways I've never seen silicone act before.
posted by hippybear at 2:30 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, landlubbers have discovered their version of Z-spar A-788 Splash Zone Compound? Meh. Marine Ecologists have been using this stuff for odd jobs for years. At one time, all of my shoes were held together by the stuff. And a few coffee mug handles. It was also useful for fixing door handles, and a few sweet laptop mods. Glad the rest of the world will finally give something like it a shot.
posted by redbeard at 2:38 PM on December 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Another incredibly useful material in my experience is Polycaprolactone (PCL, Polymorph). You dunk some beads in hot water to melt it, use it like modelling clay to make whatever you need, and let it cool. At room temperature it's much like nylon in terms of toughness, and can be used to make and repair all manner of stuff.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:38 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I sure have a feeling we've been pepsi blued successfully here.

OTOH, I've relied on two-part co-extruded kneadable epoxies for ages. Just slice off a bit, knead it, and push it onto/into the repair. Workable for about five minutes, tops, and dries hard enough to work with standard tools. A silicone, flexible alternative would pretty much round out the insta-repair toolkit.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:43 PM on December 13, 2009


I might as well toss in a recommendation for Shoe Goo's products, too. I have a decades-old pair of Teva sandals that I particularly like (the strap system), so I keep repairing the sole with Shoe Goo. Wears like iron. Can't say I've found any other particularly good use for the stuff.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:45 PM on December 13, 2009


I'm not going to make any remarks about the potential for home crafted sex toys, because that would be crass.
posted by device55 at 2:49 PM on December 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


The story here seems to be that Jane and her friends have invented something useful — moldable silicone caulk in airtight single-use packages — but having burned through an initial ₤250,000 raise and emergency ₤100,000 bridge this year without landing a big corporate partner they've launched a retail site and revved up the social-media marketing. Sadly it looks they haven't enough money left to produce the stuff in commercial quantities, and I hope the initial orders keep them alive long enough to spool up, or 3M or someone is liable to eat their lunch — but the fact that they've stopped even taking orders isn't promising.
posted by nicwolff at 2:50 PM on December 13, 2009 [9 favorites]


How paintable is this stuff? I'm thinking about the potential for miniatures and costuming, but if it can't be painted easily, then that makes it much less exciting.
posted by Mizu at 2:56 PM on December 13, 2009


isn't it odd the two most exciting inventions prior to this one were also adhesives?
posted by mulligan at 3:18 PM on December 13, 2009


Wow better than Sellotape and Blu-Tack. I'd probably be impressed if I knew what they were.
posted by octothorpe


I recommend the google for you, sir.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:20 PM on December 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've seen Sugru mentioned in other places, and the comments always seem to quickly turn to "oh, this is just [RTV or similar goop commenter knows about]". But...

> having burned through an initial £250,000 raise and
> emergency £100,000 bridge this year

...I didn't see anybody linking to those pages before.

Since it isn't 1999 any more, I find that info heartening, even though the company obviously currently has some supply problems. Presuming all the talk about Sugru being genuinely new is true, I'm pleased to see that this operation isn't just the classic "take something that normally sells to industry in 55-gallon drums and put it in little tiny jars with a nifty name at a 10,000% mark-up".
posted by dansdata at 3:32 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


"The silicone is made from a new product trademarked as Formerol..."

I'm sorry, but Formerol sounds like something out of a Vonnegut novel.
posted by mosk at 3:46 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sadly it looks they haven't enough money left to produce the stuff in commercial quantities, and I hope the initial orders keep them alive long enough to spool up

Their product looks cool but, I actually restrained myself from buying any in their most recent batch of 2000 pre-ordering. Their future looked far from certain to me if they can only crank out less than 2000 orders a month. I can't see the ~20k (from memory all the different packs were around 9 or 10 pounds each?) from this lot of pre-orders doing much to hold them over until Feb. So I hope their backers still have money in the kitty and these boutique batches they're doing now are more about building brand awareness than generating some cash flow.
posted by adamt at 3:58 PM on December 13, 2009


Yeah, until a screaming bald guy is selling this on late-night television (preferably while dangling over a deadly ravine while hanging by a single strand of sugru) this isn't going to reach a big enough market to make sense.

So I gather there will be a 3M version shortly.
posted by rokusan at 4:12 PM on December 13, 2009


MEH, so you planetside luddites have found a marketable name for Spumitex Z1000, big deal, we jump drive engineers have been using this stuff to gap-bridge wonky timefuse cradles since before the Panquin administration.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 4:13 PM on December 13, 2009 [24 favorites]


Yeah, not sure about the name, either.

That might be a better trademark for some vat-grown meat.

Sugru: tastes like chicken!
posted by rokusan at 4:17 PM on December 13, 2009


This isn't pepsi glue. This isn't mighty putty. This is a neat new thing. Not every post that contains a commercial product is advertising. You can't even buy this stuff anymore until february!
posted by tehloki at 4:20 PM on December 13, 2009


I love how mefites like to go "Er, I remember this back in the day and it was unpopular so this sucks".

This might not _actually_ be the same thing you remember.
posted by lemonfridge at 4:23 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hmm. I watched the video and thought "meh" but all morning have been running into situations in which I realize that some of this stuff could be useful. If it's dirt cheap I'll be sure to buy some.
posted by zardoz at 4:24 PM on December 13, 2009


I've been seeing this for a couple weeks. I'm remain unexcited until I know it isn't poisoning someone/something (either itself or the manufacturing process).
posted by DU at 4:25 PM on December 13, 2009


From one of the links: "I don't want to buy new stuff all the time. I want to hack the stuff I already have so it works better for me."

Every time some hipster asshole uses "hack" like this God kills a kitten. What is gained by not using the words "repair" or "fix" or even "improve" in this context? Apart from not signifying oneself as a hipster asshole, I mean.
posted by Justinian at 4:26 PM on December 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


Anger growing. "Hack things better". "Hack it perfect". My god, I'm turning into my grandfather. Please shoot me before I put on a pair of weird plaid pants and sit in a barka lounger all day with my legs crossed watching golf.
posted by Justinian at 4:28 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hah, and here I was noticing how they were actually using "hack" correctly.

Hipsters ruin everything!
posted by breath at 4:44 PM on December 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


I have no idea what the inventor looks like, but being artistic, scientific, with a simple first name and an utterly frigging awesome last name, making the world a better and more hackable place AND (I assume) a beautiful Irish accent....I could fall in love right this very moment without ever meeting her.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 4:53 PM on December 13, 2009


I'd be interested in seeing some long-term effects on high-wear areas (bottom of shoes, for instance) and the effects of prolonged water exposure, but just at face value it seems like it could be a useful alternative to epoxy with a lot more flexibility. I also wonder how it sands once it has cured, and what temperatures you can get the stuff up to before bad things start happening.

Case modders will probably have a field day with the stuff.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:15 PM on December 13, 2009


I can't think of a better application to see just how long lasting Sugru's bond is...than something that contains near boiling water right above your balls, like a coffee cup.
posted by digsrus at 5:34 PM on December 13, 2009


When I hear people talk about how they want to "hack" their things, I visualize them pulling out a machete and taking a few healthy swings like John Belushi's samurai character, and then I feel a little less angry about the word "hack."
posted by MegoSteve at 5:54 PM on December 13, 2009


Normally I'd decry the usual "Smart, yes, but is she hot?" boyzone crap but since the very first text on the Sugru Web site is "This is Jane. She's from Ireland and she's lovely." I'll allow it. There's something a bit creepy about the front-and-centering of Ní Dhulchaointigh (pronounced "Delahunty", I think, BTW) when the "clever materials scientists called Ian and Steve" (aka "former Dow Corning senior silicone materials scientists") aren't even given last names (or equity?)

That said, I'm with dansdata in not being sure why so many people here are convinced this isn't a truly new product; it's adhesive, unlike mold putty; moldable, unlike silicone caulk; cures pliable, unlike Miracle Putty; cures to a soft-touch high-friction surface, unlike Splash Zone compound; stays cured at high temperatures, unlike polycaprolactone. The single-use, premixed packaging makes it great for home projects and quick fixes, but I think it's also a neat new idea.
posted by nicwolff at 6:07 PM on December 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Coulda used some of this stuff when I was hanging Christmas lights last weekend.
posted by notyou at 6:08 PM on December 13, 2009


If it stays semi-soft and a bit sticky indefinitely, won't it become a serious lint magnet?

I mean all these shiny bright colored things look great when you first make them, but how do they look after a month of use?
posted by rokusan at 7:57 PM on December 13, 2009


Every seen a month-old Wacky Wall Walker? [shudder]
posted by five fresh fish at 8:52 PM on December 13, 2009


rokusan, my understanding is it stays slightly flexible indefinitely, but isn't sticky after it cures.
posted by hattifattener at 9:20 PM on December 13, 2009


The stuff looks kind of useful, but I have to say their gallery completely fails to sell the product. It looks more like "The Gallery of Stuff My Son Jason ruined with his play-doh". Several of the examples just look like they stuck some goop onto a random object for no reason.

I'm happy they're using the non-evil-password-cracker sense of the word "hack" though.
posted by mmoncur at 9:24 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nicwolff: "Lovely" in ireland in that context has a different meaning than you're thinking. It refers to personality not looks and means (basically) that someone is a likable/ friendly/ nice person. It's used for men and women.

And her name is not pronounced Delahunty, that's Anglicized. Hers would be pronounced the Irish way. Which I am not even going to attempt to spell out here.
posted by fshgrl at 9:53 PM on December 13, 2009


Except that they aren't. A hack in that context is a clever and original sort of work-around or, in some contexts, a quick and dirty work-around. Using a product for a purpose it was designed for is the complete opposite of a hack. Using a staple to hold paper together is not a hack. Using a sewing kit to repair some pants is not a hack. Using a silicone 'clay' for purposes that silicone clay is made for is not a hack.

Besides which, hack in that context is a noun. The verb 'hack' means a chop or quick blow from like an axe. Also, get off my lawn.
posted by Justinian at 10:01 PM on December 13, 2009


fshgrl: Ah, that is better. Still, a bit tone-deaf for an international product site, and I find the "I'm just a sweet lass who called some boys to help me with some science" presentation cloying and transparent.
posted by nicwolff at 10:48 PM on December 13, 2009


The verb 'hack' means a chop or quick blow from like an axe.

We have these things now with circuitry and display units and keyboard inputs, perhaps you've heard of them?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:12 PM on December 13, 2009


You get off my lawn too.
posted by Justinian at 11:46 PM on December 13, 2009


A hack in that context is a clever and original sort of work-around or, in some contexts, a quick and dirty work-around. Using a product for a purpose it was designed for is the complete opposite of a hack.

Yes, a work-around like using a flashlight as a bicycle headlamp. That seems to be the sort of thing they're talking about, although their gallery (as I said) is more of a gallery of "spectacularly ugly repairs" and "gunk stuck to things."

Besides which, hack in that context is a noun.

Or a verb.

I'll be off your lawn as soon as I'm done with my picnic lunch.
posted by mmoncur at 12:22 AM on December 14, 2009


actually looks like it would be useful for tipping steel corset bones.
posted by Pallas Athena at 9:16 AM on December 15, 2009


Funny that last night I was hoping hacking together a windbelt (see previous MeFi posts) and was having a hell of a time finding a way to hold the strap just right and it struck me that sugru would be an obvious solution if I had some one hand.

Is it wondrous that MetaFilter ties together cool technologies in one's mind such that I find something interesting to do and then the tools in which to do it, in an online forum that really I just surf to read things to entertain myself?
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 4:23 PM on December 15, 2009


In case anyone is interested, I delved further into Sugru.
I was trying to see what they were considering in their seeking "small investors" and found out that basically "small" means $20,000 USD.


From the info I received:
FormFormForm Limited was founded in 2004 to develop and exploit a new material, sugru®, with a unique product concept enabling users to customise and personalise their possessions. Founders Jane ni Dhulchao-intigh (Inventor) and Roger Ashby (Entrepreneur) met at the Royal College of Art in London where Jane was a post graduate in product design and Roger worked as a business advisor. sugru® came into being after Jane identified the potential of a material that could help people to easily adapt and redesign their posessions for themselves; her unsatisfied need led to the invention of a new material. Patents have been filed in Europe, the US, India and China and the technology has been further developed by working with expert materials scientists from Industry and Universities.

A fast growing ‘anti-consumerism’trend has taken root and is being fuelled by climate change, the economic downturn and social pressure on individual consumers to reduce waste. FormFormForm saw the beginning of this emerging trend 5 years ago, and has steadily built a product and a brand uniquely positioned to help the increasing number of people looking for alternatives to consumerism, disposability and waste. 5 years of user research, extensive user trials and technical product development is now being channelled by FormFormForm into building a powerful brand to respond directly to this untapped consumer demand. The Company intends to raise £250,000 equity investment and is approved as an UK EIS qualifying company for investor tax relief. Applications for common equity shares are welcome for any investments over £10,000. The funds generated will be used to appoint and recruit additional staff, scale up production equipment, enable attendance at selected international exhibitions and service patent expenses.

I don't have $20,000 nor do I have any direct connection to these folks, but it was an interesting post and I wondered what a startup like this sought for investment (and how). So, I figured maybe others were curious too, hence this post.

(jessamyn: sorry, yeah it should have gone here. I didn't even think about it still being open)
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 9:11 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, this is not how a startup wants to be funded; if you are giving equity to anyone who will step up with $20K, then you have given up on any kind of strategic investment from a bigger company or an up round from new venture capital, and your seed-round investors have refused to extend any kind of bridge and told you to issue common shares and find some suckers. I fear this company is going to fade away — which is a shame, cause I want some of that stuff.
posted by nicwolff at 9:14 PM on December 22, 2009


They reinvented duct tape?
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:52 AM on December 23, 2009


Wait until the porn industry gets ahold of it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:58 AM on December 23, 2009


I want some of this stuff...
posted by limeonaire at 4:23 PM on December 23, 2009


« Older “Help a Brother Out.”...   |   Economist Paul Samuelson - a m... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments