Where can you get raw Polystyrene beads? - RC Groups
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Aug 13, 2004, 08:11 PM
Flying the Unusual
kennypinkerton's Avatar

Where can you get raw Polystyrene beads?

I remember as a kid watching Mr. Wizard on TV (an educational show that kicked a** to me when I was a kid) using raw styro beads on a mold, and heating it (in boiling water) to make a styrofoam fish. He, of course, was just demonstrating how styrofoam things were made.

Where can I get some? - without having to order 15 tons from an industry giant supplier???????

searching the internet has only shown me the big guys that sell as suppliers to other manufacturers (requiring large regular monthly purchases of the stuff). It can't be too expensive, they use it for packing on everthing from small $1 toys at wal-mart to big screen TV's and sofa's.
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Aug 13, 2004, 09:15 PM
Dirt Diver
I can probably fix you up if looking for a 1lb or so
Aug 15, 2004, 06:27 AM
Registered User
There must be some packing company which can tell ya...

Try asking at FedEx or UPS, they might know where to buy it... Or some store who sells materials for making Ragdolls or teddy bears. Some of them are filled with PS beads.

Here in Brazil, you can easily buy a 4 or 6 lbs pack... It is huge like a couch, but it is surely not a ton...

Best Regards,

Last edited by hardy_pinto; Aug 15, 2004 at 06:38 AM. Reason: incomplete post
Aug 15, 2004, 08:42 AM
Registered User
Pook's Avatar
You know the Bean Bag seats that are filled with styrofoam brads im sure ive seen refill packs available as they get squashed over time.

Oooh just did a quick google - http://www.myff.com/beanbagrefill1.html

Im sure the p&p will be silly but maybe you can find them in a department - or furnature store.

Aug 15, 2004, 08:59 AM
Molded Hotliner Destroyer
Magnum9's Avatar
Bean Bag beads (at least the ones here in Oz) would be too big and soft. They seem to range from 5-10mm in diameter.
Aug 15, 2004, 03:24 PM
Registered User
Pook's Avatar
oooh you and your wierdy upside down country....

The bean bags here have balls aprx 3-4mm..

5-10 would be a lot more sensible & make them a whole lot easier to clear up when the bag splits.

Aug 15, 2004, 04:16 PM
Registered User


has anyone tested this yet? i was trying something and i realized u need 100 times more foam than what the mold is. also could you give more details on how you actually do it with the water and mold and where everything goes, that might be my problem. but i did get a nice piece of "plastic" lol
Aug 15, 2004, 04:35 PM
Registered User
Charlye's Avatar
Beans? Also try 'beads'.

I think the re-cycled products would already be fully expanded. The beads used to make molded foam products are not quite completely expanded.

Who knows.. the bean bag stuffing could be the same beads that go into making molded EPS?

Final Forming
In this final stage the pre-expanded stabilized beads are reheated with steam in a mould. The final expansion takes place and the beads coalesce to give a shaped moulding. This can also be used to form large blocks which can be sectioned to the required shape as panels, boards, cylinders etc. In this final form the EPS is made up of 98% air.
How about taking recycled EPS (already expanded) and add a binder and fibers. Then heat and compress. It would be more dense, but perhaps stronger and cheaper than plain old EPS.

Aug 15, 2004, 04:52 PM
Flying the Unusual
kennypinkerton's Avatar
exactly, the ones I'm talking about are small un-expanded beads.

here's what I remember Mr Wizard doing:
1. had a 2 piece metal (aluminum) mold of a fish about 4-6 inches long.
2. he poured the raw beads into one half of the mold filling up that half level.
3. he attached the other half of the mold together with the filled half using some wire to hold it together.
4. he put the whole thing into a pot of boiling water for a period of time that I can't remember (wasn't very long though).
5. he pulled it out and when he opened the mold, he had a solid 3-d styrofoam fish.

I remember one of them (he did a few) looked a little crumbly like he maybe didn't put enough beads in or didn't heat them long enough.

Also you gotta remember that this is all stuff I'm remembering from 20+ years ago.

I would like to get some to try my hand at molding some model stuff - heck maybe a whole airplane.

I'll look into the beanbag chair stuffing, or maybe the craft store, I hadn't thought of stuffed animals as using beads, but some do, that might do the trick.
Last edited by kennypinkerton; Aug 15, 2004 at 04:57 PM.
Aug 15, 2004, 05:11 PM
devilscries's Avatar
you know i was just thinking about doing something exactly like this but didn;t know how. wat about taking solid pieces of packing foam(eps) and putting them in a blender and setting it to chop and use that in the mold?
Aug 15, 2004, 06:02 PM
Registered User
Pook's Avatar
The wife'll killlllllllllll you...

Aug 15, 2004, 09:29 PM
Registered User
Charlye's Avatar
This EPS primer has got it all.. read it, scan it, or skip it. It has the goods on expanded polystyrene.


The raw polystyrene beads are about 40lbs/cu.ft!! That is dense.

Then the are pre-expanded up-to 40 times the orginal volume. Done so in a controlled atmosphere (containing pentane/butane), pressure and temperature. Described as a steam-fired 'popcorn popper'.

Then they pre-expanded beads are molded into your favorite shape, be it beer cooler or foamie plane. For optimum results the cycle is pretty long 15minutes and done with a specific temperature and pressure program. Complicated.

I'd have to assume Mr.Wizard used the pre-expanded beads. And if the mold, beads and all were dipped in boilling water.. it was a wonder the water-logged fish didn't crumble right away. Since the foam's expansion couldn't force out all the water included in the foam. Like they always say "EPS and water don't mix".

DO NOT TRY THIS: Microwave damp recycled EPS beads in a microwave-safe-mold. I bet 1000watts would turn the water to steam in a few seconds and generate enough heat to fuse the foam. Put a small glass of water in the microwave to catch the excess energy, so you don't fry your magnatron in the microwave. Yes it is probably bad for you, and don't let the wife catch you doing this either.


Here's another idea..

If you want to make molded foam things.. why not use a self foaming foam. I bought a can of "Great Stuff" months ago. Been meaning to try it, but once you tap the can you basically need to use it all.

Or buy cans of un-mixed foaming foam mix. I bet you could still mix-in recycled EPS to make it lighter.

Or fill your mold with 60-minute epoxy (AKA concrete garage floor sealer) with recycled EPS foam. You'd need a vacuum pump to control the resulting density.

Last edited by Charlye; Aug 15, 2004 at 09:35 PM.
Aug 15, 2004, 10:01 PM
Molded Hotliner Destroyer
Magnum9's Avatar
I played around with polyurethane rigid molding foam a while back, although not for planes.

The foam I used is a two part liquid actually designed for taxidermy and expands around 10 times it's original volume. With an aluminium two piece mold, we experimented with different amounts of liquid which gave different densities and skin thickness.

The best result gave a very hard skin which tapered off in density to a core similar to the foam used inside surfboards. The end result was very strong and stiff, but I don't know how well it would perform in a wing - it might be perfect or it might be too brittle to take impact.

The supplier had a piece of the foam molded into a rectangle about 20mm (3/4") thick and you could not break it with your hands - and yes he challenged everyone to try it!
Aug 15, 2004, 10:36 PM
-+- PhlatBoyz -+-
kram242's Avatar
Try http://www.smooth-on.com/ they have everything you would need to try it out.
They sell sample size packets too!
Hope this helps
Aug 15, 2004, 10:47 PM
devilscries's Avatar
u shouldn't really post things with microwaves because some (not smart) person is gonna try it and something is gonna go wrong and pretty much the microwave will boil their brain and flesh

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