Silly Putty

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
Silly putty drooping through a hole
Silly Putty shown as a solid cube

Silly Putty (originally called Nutty Putty, and also marketing by other companies as Thinking Putty, Bouncing Putty and Potty Putty) is the Crayola owned trademark name for a class of silicone polymers known as Bouncing Putty. 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.

It was after its success as a toy that other uses were found. 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 have emerged which alter the material's properties offering different levels of resistance for this market. Power Putty and TheraPutty are examples. Though primarily used as a toy for children the material is also used therapeutically for stress reduction. In the home it can be used to pick up dirt, lint and pet hair, and because of its adhesive characteristics it was even used by Apollo astronauts to secure their tools in zero-gravity.[1]


[edit] Description

As a bouncing putty, Silly Putty is an inorganic polymer, noted for its many 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[citation needed].

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]

Silly Putty will dissolve when in contact with an alcohol. After the alcohol evaporates, the material will not exhibit the original properties.

It is advised not to submerge Silly Putty in warm or hot water, as it will become softer, and thus "melt" much faster, and it also is harder to remove small amounts of it from surfaces. After a long period of time, it will go back to its original viscosity.

Silly Putty is sold as a 13 gram (0.47 ounce) piece of plastic clay inside an egg-shaped plastic container. It is available in various colors, including glow-in-the-dark and metallic. The brand is owned by Crayola LLC (formerly the Binney & Smith company), which also owns Crayola crayons. Today, twenty thousand eggs of Silly Putty are produced daily. Since 1950, more than 300 million eggs of Silly Putty have been sold, or approximately 4500 tons. Other Bouncing Putty brands offer the material in larger size containers and in a wide variety of colors. Like blue and yellow

Elastic Silly Putty

[edit] History of Silly Putty

During World War II, Japan invaded rubber producing countries as they expanded their sphere of influence in the Pacific Rim. Rubber was vital for the production of rafts, tires, vehicle and aircraft parts, gas masks and even boots. All rubber products were rationed, with citizens being encouraged to make their rubber products last until the end of the war and to donate any spare tires, boots and coats that they might own. Meanwhile, the government funded research into synthetic rubber compounds to attempt to solve this shortage.

Credit for the invention of Silly Putty is disputed[2] and has been attributed to both Earl Warrick, of the then newly-formed Dow Corning, Harvey Chin, and James Wright, a Scottish inventor working for General Electric in New Haven, Connecticut.[3] Throughout his life, Warrick insisted that he and his colleague, Rob Roy McGregor, received the patent for Silly Putty before Wright did, but Crayola's history of Silly Putty states that Wright first invented it in 1943. Both researchers independently discovered that reacting boric acid with silicone oil would produce a gooey, bouncy material with several unique properties. The non-toxic putty would bounce when dropped, could stretch farther than regular rubber, would not collect mold and had a very high melting temperature.

Wright found that the substance did not contain all the properties needed to replace rubber and so it spent several years languishing as a mere laboratory curiosity. In 1945, hoping there was a use for his new developed putty, Wright sent a sample to scientists all around the world, but no practical use was ever found.

Finally, in 1949, the putty reached the owner of a toy store, Ruth Fallgatter, who contacted Peter Hodgson, a marketing consultant, to produce her catalog and discuss selling bouncing putty. The two decided to market the product by selling it in a clear case for $2. The putty proceeded to outsell every item in the catalogue except for 50 cent Crayola crayons. Despite the fortune it made, Fallgatter did not pursue it further, but Hodgson saw its potential.

Already $12,000 in debt, Hodgson borrowed $147 to buy a batch of the putty to pack one ounce portions into plastic eggs for $1, calling it Silly Putty. After making progress in the industry, even selling over 250,000 [4]eggs of silly putty in three days, Hodgson was almost put out of business in 1951 by the Korean War. Silicone, a main ingredient in silly putty, was put on ration, harming his business. In 1952, a year later, the restriction on silicone was lifted and the production of Silly Putty was resumed. Initially, it was primarily targeted towards adults. However, by 1955 the majority of its consumers were aged 6 through 12. In 1957 Hodgson produced the first televised commercial for silly putty, which aired during the Howdy Doody Show.

In 1961, Silly Putty went worldwide, becoming a hit in the Soviet Union, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Switzerland, even reaching the Moon by 1968, courtesy of the Apollo 8 astronauts.

Peter Hodgson died in 1976. A year later, Binney and Smith, the makers of Crayola products, acquired the rights to Silly Putty. By 1987, Silly Putty had pushed sales to over two million eggs annually.

Carol Haynes indicates that Ruth Fallgater owned a toy shop in New Haven named the "Block Shop". From personal knowledge, (her father was the Vice President of Silly Putty from shortly after its inception until his death in June 1976) she knows that when Peter Hodgson decided to market the toy to Yale students he initially worked at the Block Shop with a few Yale students. Very soon thereafter,though, he asked William Henry Haynes, whose family members worked at the Block Shop, to join him in selling and marketing the toy. At some point in the very early years a recent Yale law school graduate, Mac Kilpatrick, also joined the team. From the beginning until 1976 it was this trio who ran the company. Peter Hodgson was the President of the company, William "Bill" Haynes was the General Manager & Vice President of Silly Putty and also the VP of Arnold Clark, Inc. (an advertising and marketing company)), and Mac Kilpatrick was a V.P and the lawyer for the companies. Since sales were mostly seasonal there were not ever many full time, yearly employees. Temporary workers were brought in during the peak periods of Easter and Christmas. Haynes indicates that she never knew of Silly Putty being more than $1.00 per egg from its inception to the time that her father died, one month before Peter Hodgson. It was, however, sold at one store in the early years in a silver egg.

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

[edit] External links

Personal tools