Every once in a while I’ll come across something new as I’m looking for a solution to a problem.
This is one of those cases and I thought I’d share my experience with you.
Sugru – self-setting rubber for flexible repairs
What is this stuff and what can you do with it? Sugru is a really cool material that comes in small packets. You can shape it
with your fingers (or with tools) into just about any shape and then as it “cures” with air contact over the next 24 hours, it sets permanently to your shape, but remains flexible. It is silicone-based, so it is quite heat-resistant as well. It is also insulating like rubber and silicone, so it has a lot of potential uses.
I bought some Sugru about a year ago (along with some InstaMorph) on Amazon.com with the intent of repairing some Ray-Ban sports sunglasses that I wear to play tennis. These sunglasses have a place where they rest on your nose which is made of rubber, but one side had come off and I lost it. I thought Sugru or Instamorph would be reasonable materials to shape a replacement part. Plus it’s inexpensive stuff. Today I’ve been inspired to go ahead and make that repair as well as repairing some Apple In-Ear headphones.
First off, I’ll tell you that Sugru has a shelf-life. I bought mine a year ago or so, but hadn’t gotten around to using it until now. The “expiration date” on it was September 2013 & it’s now December 2013. It worked fine, but judging from other videos, it was a little “stiffer” than it would have been had I opened it within date.
Project One: Sunglasses Nosepiece:
These are some RayBan polarized sunglasses that I love for playing tennis. They don’t distort at all, which is critical for tennis and your depth perception. After the right nosepiece went missing, it had a sharp edge which actually cut the skin on my nose if I wore them to play tennis. The nosepieces are attached to the plastic frame and appear to be made of a flexible silicone material, so Sugru is ideal for this.
My Sugru is white, which wasn’t ideal for the black sunglasses, but at the time I couldn’t find black Sugru on Amazon. It is now available, though, so if this repair needs redone, I’ll use the black Sugru next time. For now, the white is fine and isn’t visible when wearing the glasses, so no big deal.
The process is simple:
- Open a 5 gram packet of Sugru with scissors
- Pinch off a piece of Sugru approximately the size you need.
- Knead the Sugru with your fingers, then shape it to the approximate dimensions you’re aiming for.
- Apply the Sugru to its final location and fine-tune the shaping.
- Leave it alone for the next 24 hours to allow the Sugru to air-cure.
- That’s it.
It’s now been 24 hours since the repair was made, and it’s awesome! The Sugru is flexible, though just a bit more stiff than the original part. It works perfectly. It’s comfortable to wear and is well attached to the frame.
In these pictures, you can clearly see the Sugru repair (hint: it’s the white bit on the sunglasses). If the Sugru were black, it would be next to impossible to tell these glasses had been repaired in any way.
Project Two: Apple In-Ear Headphone Repair
If you have any Apple headphones, eventually you’ll notice 2 things:
1. The white gets dirty very easily.
2. When you wipe it off to clean it, whatever the rubber is that supports the area where the cord connects to the earphones and RCA plug becomes brittle over time and eventually disintegrates.
I’ve had several pairs of these headphones (1st and 2nd generations) and love the sound quality and the “remote” function on the headphones. Mostly I use them while I’m mowing or listening to something around the house, so I have an older “really dirty” pair and a newer “still kinda dirty” pair. Both needed repairing.
Here are some pictures of the process as well:
1. After 24 hours, these repairs are all fantastic. The Sugru is flexible, but returns to its shape. It looks good. It feels good.
2. I don’t think the fact that I used the product after date affected my end results, but I do think if I had waited even longer it very well may have.
3. I put the remainder of my Sugru 3-pack in the fridge. This will extend it’s shelf life.
4. Speaking of shelf life: once the packet of Sugru is open, it needs to be used within a couple of hours. The curing process starts once it hits air. 3 or 4 hours after I opened the packet, I thought of another repair I could perform (adding a “tab” to the back of a battery to make better contact on my Nikon J1). I went to the opened pack of Sugru on my desk and found that about 80% of it was brittle and couldn’t be formed. What could be formed wasn’t as malleable and didn’t stick quite as well. It DID work, though.
5. It doesn’t take much Sugru at all to perform these particular repairs. In fact, less than 1/2 of a 5 gram packet was used. I still have 2 whole packets left to use.
6. It’s a good idea to consider several uses for it and get them all done once you open your packet(s).
7. This stuff is totally COOL! Your use of it is limited only by your imagination.
8. The end result of these repairs is actually very high quality. It doesn’t look like Play-Doh or a cheap repair.
9. With a few tools, I think you can do some really cool things with this novel material. Do a search on YouTube and you’ll see lots of different uses. I saw where someone made a 3d-printed mold to make Sugru corner bumpers for his iPhone.
10. The white Sugru is perfect for Apple product repairs.
11. The white Sugru WILL pick up any dirt, dust, or lint within about 10 feet of your work area, or so it seems.