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Not all Shrink Plastic is created equal....

There are many different types of Shrink Plastic on the market today, but the product has been around for quite awhile. The first product was made by Wham-O in 1968 and were call "Shrinkies". It was similar to the Easy Bake Oven, in that it used a 40 watt light bulb to melt the plastic. 15 minutes to shrink something that now takes seconds depending on the manufacturer.

"Shrinky Dinks" were invented by Betty Morris in Wisconsin in 1973. In the seventies and eighties there were many companies such as Milton Bradley, Colorforms, Western Publishing and others making pre printed sheets for different popular characters of the time. According to the "Shrinky Dink" website some of these old kits are now being sold for 20 to 75 dollars on the internet.

Science and facts about shrink plastic
Shrink plastic is a polystrene that is capable of shrinking evenly in both directions, although I have found this is not the case in some of the products I have tried. Since it is polystyrene, which is what a lot of the recyclable containers are these days, some people use the containers which have the recycling symbol,the number 6, and the letters PS on them. This supposedly can be sanded and painted and shrunk just like all the other products on the market but I have yet to test it. I haven't heard if this method is safe, and don't recommend it.

When you get on the internet and do a search on shrink plastic there are a large number of companies who make shrinking plastics, but not all of them work the same way. The two that have the most references are the "Shrinky Dink" brand and Lucky Squirrel, makers of PolyShrink.

Both of these rather well known shrink plastic brands work well. One of the biggest differences is that Shrinky Dinks come pre-sanded, whereas the PolyShrink needs to be sanded by the user. This is personal preference, does the user want the plastic ready to go, or would they like to be able to control the amount of sanding depending on the medium they will using to color the plastic.

Both products have white, clear, black, but PolyShrink also has a translucent as well. However, Lucky Squirrel does not have an ink jet version of their plastic, and Shrinky Dinks have a white version that can run through an ink jet.

Recently, I purchased a third kind of plastic, Grafix Shrink Film for ink jet printers, first in a white then in clear. There were no problems with the white ink jet sheets, except for a little doming. However, the clear did not shrink evenly. On their directions they state, "Grafix Shrink Film will not shrink perfectly proportinate, please allow for some distortion. " This is the first time I have seen this amount of distortion. After reading about the nature of shrink plastic I guess that their polystrene doesn't have good multi-directional shrinkage, or maybe the ink jet coating affects the shrinkage.

Of all the brands tested, kudos goes to Lucky Squirrel for their informative website. They have made a lot of information available on the plastic that they sell, glues that work, mediums to color the plastic with, techniques and tips.

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