posts tagged with the keyword ‘plastic’


HDPE Sheet

My most recent HDPE adventure did not turn out well. While I got a nice sized sheet, I managed to slice my finger open and wasn’t sure why, until I investigated more closely…

HDPE, now with glass!

If you can see those shiny pieces, those are pieces of glass. But since I’m personally cutting up all the HDPE scraps and putting them in the oven, where did this glass come from?

Glass, damaged...

Oh yeah, I put it in the oven in a glass baking pan. The HDPE actually tore some layers from the bottom of the pan when I was removing it! The HDPE doesn’t exactly fall out of the pan, and requires some coaxing to come out. I typically pry it out with a screwdriver, then pull it out. (I wear gloves the entire time, as that stuff is HOT!)

Obviously the glass baking pan isn’t ideal for this. I’ve gone back to using the smaller glass loaf pan. I’m hoping the smaller surface area will help prevent this from happening again.

Baked to Hell!

The glass pan is pretty beat anyway, and with pieces missing from the bottom, I guess I’ll just scrap it. (Unless someone wants to melt it down!)



After all of my experiments with recycling various HDPE scraps, I finally got around to milling a piece on the Shapeoko at BAMspace.

Milling on the Shapeoko

The piece I used was close to 0.5″ thick. I added a thin piece of MDF beneath the piece so I wouldn’t chew up our nice looking hold-down surface…


The milling took quite a while. The first attempt with a different piece did not work out well, partly due to too high of feed rate, and partly due to a piece getting stuck after being cut out. (I can see the appeal of a vacuum table!)

GRBL Controller

We use GRBL Controller on one of my old Linux laptops to control the Shapeoko.


Did I mention the milling took a long time? It was about 14 passes at 0.04″ per pass to cut through. I used a 1/8″ bit.


The end results were nice. A little rough, but some sanding and a few hits with a blow touch should clean things up just fine.


Shredded HDPE

Our latest experiment in recycling HDPE into sheets uses material that one of the guys in the shop got from Craigslist. It’s a giant bag of shredded HDPE scrap. It’s all white, and very clean. I think it was used for archery targets or something.

Bag of shreds

Here’s a photo of one of the bags with a one gallon jug on top of it. (We’ve got three of these bags!)

Pan of shreds

I thought this would be the perfect material, and it is good, but it takes a while to melt down. With jugs I could cut them up into small flat pieces and fill the baking pan, but with the shreds it’s mostly a matter of trying to stuff as much as I could into the pan, then heating it until it melted flat, and then adding more. It’s not a fast process.

Flattened sheet

Despite the time involved, the results were good. I may have rushed things a bit, as the, plastic did not seem completely pliable when I put it on the board (aka “The Press”) but I decided to go for it anyway.

The results were ok, but it’s definitely not as smooth (or shiny) on the surface as the last attempt. Getting it the right plasticity is important in this process.

Surface of sheet

The size of this (oval shaped) piece is about 8″ x 7.5″, which should yield a square sheet of 6.5″ x 6.5″. I’ll probably go back to using the larger square glass pan next time instead of the loaf pan.



In our last experiment recycling HDPE into usable form, we created a brownie pan full of plastic. While this looked impressive, it wasn’t the best idea for something that was going to be milled. It ended up being much thicker than needed, and finding a cutting bit with the proper LOC (Length of Cut) proved to be an issue. I was all set to mill a thicker piece, but we blew a fuse on the Shapeoko.


I decided that I needed sheet material of a uniform thickness, so I ended up creating a simple press using two pieces of wood, with some spacers. Once I warmed up the HDPE block I got it out of the pan, onto the wood, and stood on it until it was squished flat(ish.) I then put some weights on it until it cooled.


It turned out well! It’s a pretty uniform thickness now, and this was just under 1/3rd of a bread loaf pan, so I may need a bigger press if I want to do bigger melts. I can also make different presses with different thicknesses as well.




Laser Pointer Switch

I modeled a laser pointer switch which you can use with your cheap laser pointer to turn it on and do stupid things like throw it in the air while doing long exposure photography. (Actually, that’s not a bad idea! Or is it?)

Laser Pointer Switch

OK, these are really part of the Laser Maze we’ll be running at Maker Faire Milwaukee this year. The last thing I did for Laser Maze was the mounts, but Vishal is still doing most of the hard work on this project. (Thanks, Vishal!)

Laser Pointer Switch

If you want one, you can grab it from Thingiverse or Youmagine. And remember kids, laser are dangerous, don’t just go pointing those things around!

Laser Pointer Switch

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