Silly Putty

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Silly Putty (also marketed by other companies as Thinking Putty, Bouncing Putty, Tricky Putty and Potty Putty), is the Crayola-owned trademark name for a class of silicone polymers. It is marketed today as a toy for children, but was originally created by accident during research into potential rubber substitutes for use by the United States in World War II. The company's manufacturer is based in Easton, Pennsylvania.

After its success as a toy, other uses were found. In the home, it can be used to pick up dirt, lint, and pet hair. The material's unique properties have found niche use in medical and scientific applications. It is used in large quantity by physical therapists for rehabilitative therapy of hand injuries. A number of other brands (such as Power Putty and TheraPutty) alter the material's properties, offering different levels of resistance. The material is also used therapeutically for stress reduction. Because of its adhesive characteristics, it was used by Apollo astronauts to secure their tools in zero-gravity.[1]

Contents

Description

As a bouncing putty, Silly Putty is noted for its unusual characteristics: it bounces, but breaks when given a sharp blow; it can also flow like a liquid and will form a puddle given enough time. Silly Putty and most other retail putty products have thixotropic agents added to reduce the flow and enable the putty to hold its shape.

The original coral-colored Silly Putty is composed of 65% dimethyl siloxane (hydroxy-terminated polymers with boric acid), 17% silica (crystalline quartz), 9% Thixatrol ST (castor oil derivative), 4% polydimethylsiloxane, 1% decamethyl cyclopentasiloxane, 1% glycerine, and 1% titanium dioxide.[2]

Silly Putty's unusual flow characteristics are due to the ingredient polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a viscoelastic liquid. Viscoelasticity is a type of non-Newtonian flow, characterizing material that acts as a viscous liquid over a long time period but as an elastic solid over a short time period. Because its apparent viscosity increases directly with respect to the amount of force applied, Silly Putty can be characterized as a dilatant fluid.

Silly Putty is also a fairly good adhesive. When newspaper ink was petroleum based, Silly Putty could be used to transfer newspaper images to other surfaces, possibly after introducing distortion. Newer papers with soy-based inks are more resistant to this activity.[citation needed]

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