There are fabric shops and lumber yards (well, there used to be), stationery stores and the occasional real hardware store — all places where you can get the wherewithal to make things. Stuff. But there’s a whole lot of material that would be nifty to work with that’s either hard or impossible to come by. Think about all the different kinds of plastic that you come across every day — but where do you go to find a decent selection of that mundane substance? It’s difficult to locate even certain types of metal or metal that’s been worked into this or that pattern.
Sure, if you’re an architect (with a client), you can get access to pretty much anything useful in the making of things. But for the merely handy Rita or Ray, it ain’t so easy.
I once considered (and still think about) starting a store, or a chain of stores called — what else? — Stuff, where some of these new and hard-to-come-by materials would be on offer for the likes of you and me. But until then, it might help me (and you, and Ray and Rita) to turn to Inventables, “the innovator’s hardware store.”
There, online, you’ll find such wonders as:
- air muscle (“These artificial muscles can provide substantial pulling force for their small size; they can exert force 400 times their weight.”)
- shape-retaining plastic roll (“Retains shape when bent in one direction and cracks when bent in the other.”)
- temperature-sensitive glass (“Alters in color with changes in temperature”)
- translucent white concrete (“Allows light to pass through while maintaining the strength of normal concrete”)
- conductive thread (“Incorporate this silver-plated nylon thread into fabric.”)
- illuminating resins (“Provide a whole night of illumination with a short solar charge.”)
- acrylic infused wood (“Adds strength and water-resistance to the beauty of real wood.”)
And much, much more. Stuff.