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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Friendly Plastic E-cyclopedia

Heating Methods... the next installment to the Friendly Plastic E-cyclopedia. If you have any tips, tricks or important information to share on this topic, please feel free to post your comments. As stated before, the pertinent information you share on each of these topics will be add to the FP E-cyclopedia. The finished version will be posted here and on the amaco web site. These postings will be made over the course of the next few weeks, so please check on this blog as often as possible so you don't miss out on any of the up coming topics. Your added information is so important to making this document as complete as possible. I may be a wealth of information and have so much to share, but I don't know everything, so your help is needed and so greatly appreciated. Thanks...

Heating Methods

Each method of heating and softening Friendly Plastic holds its own unique properties and affects the plastic in different ways. It is important to try them all so you have an understanding of these effects and know which method is right for the technique you have chosen.

Griddle – The griddle method of heating and softening friendly plastic is my favorite and is the one that I use the most. This method provides you with an open work time. You can continue working with the softened plastic until your desired design is achieved. Once your design is complete, simply remove the baking sheet from the griddle and allow the plastic to cool. Another important aspect to this method is that the plastic is being heated from bottom to top, leaving the metallic finish virtually unchanged. With the temperature set at a low 200° to 250°, a non-stick baking sheet is placed onto the griddle and the plastic is then placed onto the baking sheet to soften.

Heat Gun- The heat gun is a great tool to use on small projects and for finishing techniques. As with the griddle method, the plastic needs to be placed on a heat resistant non-stick surface before heating. It is very important to keep in mind, that the strong concentration of heat and air flow, being applied from above, can cause the plastic to move around, become sticky and may cause the metallic finish to crackle, so take care and caution as you master this heating method.
There are different heat tools on the market which supply a softer flow of air, which makes them better suited, when working with small pieces.

Hot Water - The method of heating and softening the plastic in hot water was the main stay several years ago. It is one of the primary methods still being used in the UK and Australia. It is quickly becoming popular again here in the US with the re-introduction of the Friendly Plastic pellets. The ability to control the temperature of the water to just under a simmer (140°-150°) in an electric skillet or wok, allows you to soften the plastic into a malleable state that can then be manipulated by hand into free form designs.

Oven - The oven method for heating and softening the plastic, like the hot water, has been an option since the introduction of Friendly Plastic. With the oven set at 250 to 300 degrees, the plastic is placed onto a non-stick baking sheet and then placed into the oven to soften. It was the drawbacks to this method (in and out of the oven, trying to work as quickly as possible) that sparked the pursuit for a better way. From that pursuit came the griddle method. But don’t leave the oven out as one of your heating options. If you don’t have a griddle to use, this is my recommendation to achieve the same type of effects.
Small toaster ovens are perfect for this method.

It is very important to keep in mind that the temperatures given are just a guideline. The electric appliance and your geographic location are going to play a roll. You will most likely have to make some minor adjustments to find what works best for you in your area.


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