T1-MMT-P1-p3-e1 Initial exploration of fusing plastic

I started my exploration in fusing plastic in a well-ventilated (ie drafty) garage with iron, printing / ironing surface, baking paper, carrier bags, scissors and tongs – ready to make waste into sew-able plastic.
plastic_iron_01

Sample p1-21a. 6 layers, assorted bags, ironed both sides around 15 seconds.

Sample p1-21a.

Sample p1-21a.

Some distortion and – not quite bubbling, more not fusing flatly. Note to self – in future check dimensions and record shrinkage.
I had chosen a range of colours and patterns in the layers, and get good show-through both on a surface and back-lit.

Sample p1-21a.

Sample p1-21a.

Sample p1-21b. I tried to tear it. A little distortion at the edge where only 1 or 2 layers, but unable to tear (unlike a single layer that stretched and tore easily.) Very easy to cut. Some minor separation at edges where there were bubbles trapped.

Sample p1-21b.

Sample p1-21b.

Sample p1-21c. Tried creasing by hand. It didn’t hold, but some amalgamation of bubbles trapped.

Sample p1-21c.

Sample p1-21c.

Sample p1-21d. Tried creasing using iron. Was careful to limit time so fold didn’t fuse down. Got sharp crease, no additional fusing.

Sample p1-21d.

Sample p1-21d.

Sample p1-21e. Tried to fold and fuse down. Took 2 to 3 times longer than original fusing. Some loss / abrasion of colour. Surface is flatter – fewer or no air bubbles.

Sample p1-21e.

Sample p1-21e.

Sample p1-22. I started a new stack – wanted to avoid air bubbles so tried to iron a single layer briefly, with the idea of starting with totally flat sheets (with little air trapped when starting to fuse). I ironed a little longer. It didn’t really help – the single layer distorted.

Sample p1-22.

Sample p1-22.

Gave up that idea.
Sample p1-23a. Tried a new 6 layer stack, roughly 15.6 cmx 22cm.
Heated 2-3 times longer (twice each side), pressing down firmly.
End size was around 14.5cm x 21cm, so shrinkage of around 1 cm each way.
I still had bubbles. Material felt smoother to touch. I still got some delamination at edges when cutting (I picked at this to make it clearer).

Sample p1-23a.

Sample p1-23a.

Next I moved indoors to try sewing my new materials.

Sample p1-23b. First hand-sewing, using 20/2 silk and a thick novelty yarn.

Sample p1-23b.

Sample p1-23b.


Sample p1-23b.

Sample p1-23b.


The silk (towards the bottom) behaved nicely, with no fraying or sticking as it went through the material. The photo hasn’t picked it up, but the sheen and texture look quite good on the plastic – different, but not too foreign (full disclosure – this is about my favourite yarn, so I would say that).
I gathered a section at the right. It didn’t gather smoothly, and there was considerable delamination of the top layer of plastic (arrow at right of photo).

The novelty thread was harder to pull through. I tried pre-piercing with an awl, but it wasn’t thick enough to make a difference. The only real issue is arrowed on the left – an attempt at a french knot pulled through the material.

Sample p1-21f. Next I tried the sewing machine.

Sample p1-21f.

Sample p1-21f.


The machine had no trouble feeding the plastic material through. I started with long stitches, then moved to shorter. The plastic shows no signs of tearing where it is pierced. Zig-zag and novelty stitches also worked without problems.

On the right can be seen an area of free-machine stitching with the feed-dogs down. It was very easy to move the plastic around under the needle. The stiffness / body of the plastic helped it glide smoothly.

Sample p1-21g. Next were some quick experiments using the 3D printer pen.

Sample p1-21g.

Sample p1-21g.


The filament adhered quite well to the layered plastic and I was able to build up a doodle. If I pulled away too soon without breaking the filament cleanly it would pull at the base and tear the plastic (which was still soft).

Sample p1-21h. I tried a shape flat on the plastic base. It didn’t adhere, although marks can still be seen where the base was slightly melted.

Sample p1-21h.

Sample p1-21h.


It seemed that if I moved too slowly the filament built up and pushed away from the surface, causing a poor connection.

Sample p1-21i. I tried to shape the plastic material by drawing a line of filament on it, then bending the pliable area until it cooled.

Sample p1-21i.

Sample p1-21i.


I got partial adhesion, seen in the photograph, but since then more of the plastic has pulled away from the filament. I suspect the material was too heavy for a single line of filament to hold.

Sample p1-21j. Perhaps a line around the outside of a small shape would hold.

Sample p1-21j.

Sample p1-21j.


No.

Sample p1-21k. Perhaps a longer line up the middle of the shape.

Sample p1-21k.

Sample p1-21k.


No. Although I like the wiggly lines being created.

Sample p1-24. I tried the same shaping on a single layer of carrier bag plastic, thinking it would be light and flexible enough to be held by the filament.

Sample p1-24.

Sample p1-24.


The bag tended to melt and it didn’t hold.

Despite the lack of success I am still convinced that the 3D pen in combination with the plastic material has potential for shaping and distorting the surface. I just have to find the right mix of materials and technique.

I also find the plastic fusing much more interesting than I expected. It becomes quite a different material when fused in layers. The next step is to use a range of plastics to create different textures and surfaces, and to capture materials between the layers.

T1-MMT-P1-p3-e1 Initial exploration of fusing plastic
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 1: Surface Distortion
Project 3: Heating and fusing
Exercise 1: Fusing plastic

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