When it comes to fixing, tweaking and hacking it's pretty universally agreed upon that the most versatile, valuable, and convenient tool you can have in your toolbox is duct tape. For years we've been patching stuff up with the stinky silver stuff, and it's gone pretty much gone unchallenged. While I agree it's handy, duct tape has gone unchallenged since it was invented in the in the 1940's.
Well it's 2012 now... and while we may not have gotten our flying cars, we have gotten something new which has made modding, fixing and hacking a breeze and which challenges duct tape's role as the most valuable tool in your toolbox. It's called "Sugru", and if you haven't heard of it before you have to read on to learn all about it.
Hacking - Not Just for Computers Anymore
When stuff breaks, it sucks. Sometimes the cost of repair far outweighs the cost to replace something... which is perhaps very intentional in our capitalist society. Yet in spite of the ease of replacement, some folks would rather fix what they own rather than buy something new. Perhaps even more ingenuitive than someone who fixes stuff is that rare person who sees something with absolutely nothing wrong with it and decides that they can make it better. Borrowing a computer term, this has become known as "life hacking", or just hacking for short.
Large internet communities have sprung up surrounding this concept of increasing productivity and functionality. Now exciting new products are popping up to fill a niche need which has improved the quality of these hacks beyond hot glue and duct tape. One such product is Sugru, a new air-curing rubber which can be formed by hand into any number of different uses. It's pretty amazing stuff.
Sugru will bond to most materials. It forms like Play dough or Silly Putty, but turns into a strong and flexible silicone rubber in about 24 hours. Unlike similar materials, Sugru cures at room temperature, so you don't need some crazy oven or other apparatus or chemical to make your hack work.
Sugru is strong, durable, flexible, stable and high and low temperatures and water proof… making it's potential applications very enticing. The creative potential is showcased very well on the Sugru website, where there is displayed everything from camera grips to car repairs. Sugru is available in lots of great colors (which can be mixed to create even more colors for a perfect color match in most any application).
My Sugru Experience
When I got my package of Sugru in the mail, I eagerly tore in. They market this stuff quite well. Sugru has a shelf life of about 6 months, even in product packaging you're encouraged not to toss it in a drawer, but to start hacking. So that's exactly what I did. Fortunately for my review and unfortunately for my wife her key broke off it's keyring to her Mitsubishi Outlander. No problem, I got the black pack of Sugru and cut right in. What I found was a smelly little lump of dough-like stuff a little larger than a wad of gum… perfect for this application. After forming the Sugru around the key's base I smoothed and finished the edges. Then I placed the key upright and let it cure overnight. My wife's reaction? She thinks it looks great, and we didn't have to pay the dealer a fortune to have a replacement made.
My next venture into Sugru hacking required two packets, but I didn't feel bad because well… it expires so I better use it right? So I ripped open 2 of the 3 included white packets of Sugru. My next hack was also to save money. I have an iPhone 3G dock that I cut down with a dremel to fit it to my iPhone 4S. The problem was that dock had hollow space behind the injection molded plastic base, so I ended up wrecking it. I thought I'd have to MacGyver my dock back together with melted yogurt cartons and hot glue, but a couple packs of Sugru and not only is my iPhone dock functional again, but it's still white and pretty cool looking. I really like this stuff!
Now even as I write this review, my brain is churning on other potential applications. Perhaps a custom grip, a shoe repair, or something else. I have about 5 1/2 months left to figure out how my remaining Sugru supply will be used to fix what breaks and life hack things better. Would I recommend Sugru? Absolutely yes. It's simple enough that you don't have to be a techie to use it, but it's potential is large enough that you can find a million uses for this stuff. I'll be a customer in the future, and I highly recommend Sugru in your toolbox too (just make sure you take it out and use it).