“I’ve always made things and it’s always frustrated me that plastics are something you’re given, and not something you can change easily,” says London-based furniture designer Peter Marigold. That frustration faded some years ago, when he discovered thermoplastics, a type of plastic that becomes soft and malleable when heated and hardened when cool. After nearly a decade of experimenting with the material, Marigold has invented FORMcard, a colorful, pocket-sized sheet of bioplastic that can be melted down and used to modify, create, and repair everyday objects.
Now raising funds on Kickstarter, the FORMcard works its magic when dipped into hot water. The heat weakens the molecules making up the material, and the hard plastic card takes on the properties of something more like silly putty or Play-Doh. While it’s pliable, you can mold the plastic to mend something that’s broken–like umbrella tines or tent poles–or create entirely new objects, such as iPhone holders or ice trays (the applications, as seen in the FORMcard’s Kickstarter video, are many). When the plastic cools, Marigold says it’s as strong and as durable as nylon.
The idea of making and mending with thermoplastics is not a new one, but Marigold’s goal with FORMcard is to make it accessible to everyone. Typically, if you were to buy thermoplastic from a hardware or craft store, it would come in the form of granules that have to be squished together and are difficult to handle. “There are all of these small steps between getting the granules and actually making objects that holds you back from easy use,” says Marigold. By making the FORMcard into sheets the shape and size of a credit card, he made it easier for people to create with and to carry around.
“At first, we were thinking of doing rolls of tape or flat sheets,” says Marigold, but after finding himself carrying around scraps in his wallet and pockets, he decided that a card felt the most natural. “We spent a huge amount of time testing different thicknesses so that wouldn’t feel like enormous object in pocket. It sounds small, but it’s extremely important,” he says.
Over the coarse of the Kickstarter campaign, Marigold plans to show more potential applications of the plastic, but ultimately wants to FORMcard to be a tool for others to invent with. “I have the greatest respect and love for the hacking community who think they’re way out of situations rather than buy their way out, ” he says. “I believe that there is, at the same time that big corporations are doing their best to dumb people down, a rise in the idea that people can take control of their lives.”
FORMcards are now on Kickstarter and cost around $7 for a pack of three ($5 for early backers).