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Topic: Polymer covered USB stick  (Read 8382 times)
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ShammyCrafty
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« on: November 09, 2009 09:54:02 PM »

Has anyone tried this? Does anyone have any idea how the USB card & its computer chip would hold up in the oven?
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MissDisney
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« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2009 10:02:06 PM »

i have seen them, but i would definitely try it out on a cheap one in case it ruins it

i need to get about a dozen to hold my files, i have thought about covering the case in clay, but i havent bought them, so i havent really thought about it much
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i think im back....9 months almost to the day but i miss art, and i missed you guys!
Diane B.
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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2009 08:22:05 AM »

Clayers have covered USB drives before but I can't remember now if they actually baked the USBs with the clay, or made the clay like a sleeve which could be pushed back onto the plastic part of the USB drive after separate baking (you could also use glue at that time if the sleeve weren't tight enough on its own).  If I remember, I'll ask the DH-computer-person when he's back about the heat factor re USB's.

If you want to try the sleeve method, you could wrap and tape a piece of thin paper around the plastic handle area of the USB, then make your clay sleeve around that.  (You could also use a lot of cornstarch or water as your release on the plastic, but all of those things might make the tacky clay harder to wrap reasonably tightly.)
Then cool the covered USB in the frig or freezer to firm it up a bit, gently slip the clay sleeve off, and lightly stuff it with a tissue or cotton ball, etc. Bake the sleeve.  Push it back onto the USB while the clay is still warm (or may be fine to wait till totally cool).

You could instead make a mold of the USB handle area, then make a cast from the mold so you'll have a dummy of the USB handle.  Cover that with paper or a lot of cornstarch or something called "CA debonder" (get that at a hobby shop, or use Kato's Repel Gel which is a release developed by Donna Kato for polymer clay prob. the same thing), then bake together.  Remove the sleeve from the dummy while still warm and slip it onto the USB.

Or you could sacrifice an old USB of the same size to use as a dummy and just use it with the paper or other release.  Then slip off after baking and push onto a new USB.

Have fun!

Diane B.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2010 09:46:21 AM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
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ShammyCrafty
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2009 08:43:40 AM »

Thanks Diane! I think I will try the sleeve method for now. I need to whip one up as a gift for a party tonight. But once you find out about the safety of baking them, I'd still like to know. Thanks so much Diane!
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Diane B.
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« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2009 05:37:07 PM »

Quote
once you find out about the safety of baking them, I'd still like to know. Thanks so much Diane!

Just asked the DH.  He says that it probably wouldn't work, but he isn't sure about exactly how much heat for how long would be okay. 
The main problem would be with melting the solder inside and perhaps also degrading any encapsulating materials, therefore breaking connections.  (He did say you should know immediately though if it hadn't worked because the USB just wouldn't work at all.)

HTH,

Diane B.
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POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
atomicjam
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2009 09:58:09 PM »

Hi.   The oven temperature won't be hot enough to melt the solder on the drive,  But it may cause components on the PCB (printed circuit board) to expand and fail.  The tiny chip in it will work to quite high temps (like the chip in your computer) but the other parts may not like it.

Basically I don't know. lol, not very helpful but I wanted to show you this photo of my USB drive which just falls apart.  You can see that the PCB  is quite small and just dying to be covered in clay Cheesy

Mine is only a really cheap one, 50meg or something, so I will do it tonight and test it out. Then report back here and let you know how it went...

I'll probably do it for about 15mins @ 110c

Bye Bye USB Card, hello covering every thing in clay, lol.    (i'm a new poly-clay nut)

Here's the pic of uncovered USB stick

« Last Edit: November 24, 2009 11:51:07 AM by atomicjam » THIS ROCKS   Logged
atomicjam
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2009 03:52:37 AM »

Ok, so I covered my USB drive in clay and baked it at 110c for 20mins.  

And.............................. it worked!!!!   Shocked  Well the drive still works, and it kept the data that was on it.  You can even see the little red light through the clay. So I guess it's ok to bake USB drives  Cool      
I may have been lucky.   Other drives may not like it.  If I did it again it may melt into a pool of electro-poly-clay or something.  So if your gonna try I can only recomend doing it with one you don't mind loosing.   But it is a good sign for the possibility of covering (and then baking) electrical devices, something I may look into more.   I just packed the clay around the PCB, about 5mm thick at the thickest point and 0.01mm at the thinnest (it's poking through a little bit).

Here's a pic...     The quality of my clayings not very good though I'm afraid but I've only just started   Tongue



Gonna try sanding it to see how that goes.   What a fun day, with polymer clay!! Grin
« Last Edit: November 24, 2009 11:54:00 AM by atomicjam » THIS ROCKS   Logged
Diane B.
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« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2009 11:28:23 AM »

Thanks for trying it!  I'm not sure if that settles the question entirely but it's a good start.

Many clayers still use the recommended temp of 265-275 F for curing their clay even though most of the newer formulations of the brands/lines say it can also be cured at 230 F (110C).  They prefer the older temps because they make the clay stronger and also are more likely to polymerize the clay all the way through to the innermost parts.  So we still need experiments for the higher temps used by many clayers, and also to see if the higher temp would be a problem for the solder.

Another factor re temp would be the way you covered the drives.  The DH thinks that simply putting a piece of paper over the printed circuit board before covering with clay could provide enough temp buffering around the components to prevent expansion since it looks like your clay covering also got down all around them(?).  Or just covering the plastic cover itself could do the same thing if it can take the 230 or 275 F without softening/distorting (or worse).

I don't know if there are variations in different USB drives though that could make a difference in any way too, from the temp or from other factors as you mentioned.

Btw, were you seeing the red light through the clay??


Quote
. . . hello covering every thing in clay . . 

Lololol... there's an old saying in the polymer clay community that once a clayer discovers "covering," nothing that can't run away will ever be safe  Shocked Grin


Diane B.

 
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POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
atomicjam
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2009 01:25:42 PM »

Yeah it's definitely not settled yet.  Please no-one think it's ok to oven bake you mobile and laptop,  Even if they do stay still for longer than 5mins  Wink

I think the components in a USB stick are very simple (compared with other devices like mobiles, watches, etc) so are a good thing to try it out on.  Basically just some solid-state memory and some transistors, resistors, etc.   I've got to make it clear that I'm guessing...   but I think that most USB memory sticks will be pretty standard components.  With just a difference in quality.    This is a really cheap one (free promo). But there's two ways of looking at it. Either the cheaper ones use inferior parts and will be more likely to fail.   Or the high-quality ones use faster (and therefor smaller tolerance and more delicate parts) and so they will be more likely to fail.   It's really hard to know for sure without asking the manufacturer or just testing some out. 

The recommended operating temp's for stuff like this is fairly high, I guess around 60c(ish) but they will withstand much higher.  I'm not really worried about the solder melting.   Solder starts to go at about 190c (374f).   My soldering iron temp gauge starts at about 150c (300f) and good luck getting it melt solder at that setting.  I usually use it at around the 220c mark for very small wires, PCB, etc.   I'm pretty sure no solder will melt in the oven (i've used Lead, lead-free and silver solder and they all like it very hot).

Your DH friend (not sure what DH is, sorry) is right,  the problem is in expanding components, though allot of them are ceramic based and don't mind heat at all. I have just packed the clay straight onto the PCB.   It covers/touches every component. If you are using metallic effect clay, be careful because it may actually have metal in it that will conduct electricity and short-circuit (i have actually used a very old pack of Fimo No.91 Anthracite,  which looks metallic but is an old formula (i guess). A simple paper heat shield is a good idea to be cautious. It can only help.   It was very hot when it came out the oven (obviously)  I touched it to make sure, lol.    I don't have another USB stick to test on at higher temps, but I do have an old digital watch which needs a good bakin'. I'll do it at higher temps to make sure.   Polymer Clay watches would be very, very cool.

You could just try doing it straight onto the existing case. Not sure how that will go, depends on the plastic.  Be careful of fumes!!!    Or make a sleeve from something (probably the best idea), but I wanted to see how clay works on PCB, and building straight onto the circuit board means a slightly smaller platform to work on (the plastic case was huge compared to the PCB).

And yes the red light manages to shine through about 4-5mm of yellow clay.   It isn't very bright and doesn't look that good, but it could be done quite well I think (a small L.E.D within the clay).  There are no translucent mixed in.

So, in short, I don't think it would be a huge gamble to cover and bake your USB memory stick.  If any electrical device can take it, they are a good candidate.  But only really do it if you don't mind loosing it. I guess that is the good advice.

I will experiment further and report back if I find anything out  (I love doing this kind of stuff)

Peace.
Tom

P.S, sorry about the small book^^   Hope what I've said is clear.  If anyone is not sure on something (like weather or nor to bake you computer) please ask me to clarify.   And check out my next victim....  Its a casi-uh-oh  Grin  (i'm not very confidant a watch can handle the oven lol)

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Diane B.
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« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2009 04:25:41 PM »

Quote
Please no-one think it's ok to oven bake you mobile and laptop,  Even if they do stay still for longer than 5mins Wink

No, but both could be covered with veneers of pre-baked clay....mwa-ha-ha!

Quote
 I'm not really worried about the solder melting.   Solder starts to go at about 190c (374f).   My soldering iron temp gauge starts at about 150c (300f) . . .  I'm pretty sure no solder will melt in the oven (i've used Lead, lead-free and silver solder and they all like it very hot).

Thanks for the specifics.  DH says he just thought that some of the special low-melt solders might be used on some circuit boards to avoid overheating components, but sounds like you know they aren't so that's helpful.

Quote
The recommended operating temp's for stuff like this is fairly high, I guess around 60c (ish) but they will withstand much higher.

Again I think you're probably right, but since 60 C is only 140 F and one polymer clay can be baked up to 325 F, I worry a bit till we know for sure.  There's a lot of history re covering ballpoint pens in the clay community too where we discovered that not all plastics are alike! (now I speak words like thermoplastic, thermosetting, critical temperature, sharp melting temperature, thermosetting temp, rates of polymerization, buffers, soften, distort, etc, much more freely).

Quote
there's two ways of looking at it. Either the cheaper ones use inferior parts and will be more likely to fail.   Or the high-quality ones use faster (and therefor smaller tolerance and more delicate parts) and so they will be more likely to fail.   It's really hard to know for sure without asking the manufacturer or just testing some out.
Your DH friend (not sure what DH is, sorry) is right,  the problem is in expanding components, though allot of them are ceramic based and don't mind heat at all.

Just to report what DH said, if it's even relevant to those points (I'm not the electronics person in this household though have nodding acquaintance):

"The difference between the cheap USB sticks and the more expensive ones, AFAIK, is mainly in the amount and type of memory included and in the embedded processor that runs on the stick.  Better units have larger processors that can support more features, but they're physically not much different than the cheapest.  Better USB sticks probably have gold-plated contacts, also, rather than tin-plated . .."

Quote
I have just packed the clay straight onto the PCB.   It covers/touches every component. If you are using metallic effect clay, be careful because it may actually have metal in it that will conduct electricity and short-circuit (i have actually used a very old pack of Fimo No.91 Anthracite,  which looks metallic but is an old formula (i guess).

Most of the "sparkly" inclusions in polymer clay are actually mica, not metal, but some of the older FimoClassic colors (and some of the newer FimoSoft colors now that we have FimoSoft) could have some metallic elements... not sure.  Good point though.  Guess one could always use the paper shield or just a thin base layer of regular clay next to the components.

Quote
I do have an old digital watch which needs a good bakin'. I'll do it at higher temps to make sure.

Definitely report back!  The DH thinks that the guts would likely be more like cheaper USB drives, or even plastic, but they may also differ from watch to watch.  Would you go to the trouble of leaving an access area in the back side to replace the battery, or not?

Quote
Polymer Clay watches would be very, very cool.. . . check out my next victim....  Its a casi-uh-oh (i'm not very confidant a watch can handle the oven lol)

For sure . . . let us see!
Here's some stuff from my site re "framing" watch faces with clay and a few clayers have done that though my links to their examples are now broken ...mostly clayers have just made watch "bands" in various ways to attach to watches though:

watches ... watch faces could be embellished with clay around the face
....those, or plain watch faces, could also be attached to clay watch bands ... watches could also be hung as pendants
... since the watch mechanism could be damaged by heat(?), it would probably be best to form the clay on the watch (without undercuts, or do in several separate pieces), then remove and bake the clay, and glue the watch face back in place (a 2-part epoxy glue would be the strongest, but E-6000 could also work)... (i.e., use a baked onlay/veneer)
.... the connectors which attach the face to the band-bracelet could be left uncovered, or connectors could be put in the clay at the proper areas (or new ones could be created, then put in the clay)
Lynne M's pendant necklace watches --she uses watches with a small connector area on each end (could use regular ones though?)... hangs upside down, and hangs 3 head pins from the bottom connector strung with thick round cane slices, so they stand apart
http://www.manningcreations.com/newa.html (link broken)
Tracie's framed watch pendants
http://albums.photopoint.com/j/AlbumIndex?u=1158358&a=8538929 (link broken)


Quote
You could just try doing it straight onto the existing case. Not sure how that will go, depends on the plastic.  

Yeah, another variable.

Quote
Or make a sleeve from something (probably the best idea), but I wanted to see how clay works on PCB, and building straight onto the circuit board means a slightly smaller platform to work on (the plastic case was huge compared to the PCB).

Oh, I hadn't thought of the thinness factor.  Good point.

Quote
And yes the red light manages to shine through about 4-5mm of yellow clay.

Fun, but as you said probably not the most distinct or bright a light as might be good.

Quote
. .There are no translucent mixed in. . .

Actually, there is a lot of "translucent" clay mixed into various brands and colors of polymer clay right at the factory, though it's not obvious at all which they are!  The only truly opaque polymer clay color, I think, is white because of the titanium dioxide in it.  Black might come close too.  
Found this out the hard way long ago when attempting to make a clay covering for a glass votive candleholder.  I had planned out the pattern with care so the translucent parts would look a certain way next to each other only to find out that the white clay turned out "black" (and any color I had mixed with a lot of white to make a pastel), and many of the dark clay colors were actually quite translucent and glowed brightly Huh. Not the effect I was after needless to say.  After that experience, I always auditioned each color (particularly if mixing colors) inside a dark closet on a sheet of clear acrylic with a flashlight aimed back up through the smooshed clay pieces before I decided how to use it!  

Quote
It isn't very bright and doesn't look that good, but it could be done quite well I think (a small L.E.D within the clay).


Definitely lots of possibilties, and would be nice to be sure the drive were actually working too.  Let us know about anything you try!
(If you're ever interested in checking out some of the things that have been done or considered re using LEDs or fiberoptics with clay, look on this page:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/other_materials.htm ...click on the category Fiberoptic Strands & LED's at bottom of list)

Quote
I will experiment further and report back if I find anything out  (I love doing this kind of stuff)

Great!  Scientific curiosity is always well received in the polymer clay community... and helpful.

Diane B.


« Last Edit: November 24, 2009 04:26:25 PM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
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