Inventables: new material gizmos by and for inventors

Inventables, "the innovator's hardware store," sells a wide and astonishing variety of inspriring gadgets and components that make use of new materials. Examples from the front page include "Thin semi-transparent metal covering film," "Hand Moldable Plastic," "Suction Cup Tape," "Translucent Concrete," "Bendable Wood" and "Friction Damping Pouch." The materials are largely created by small-time inventors who sell through the site, a kind of Etsy for new material science hackers.
Certainly you've seen spray paint with a perfect looking chrome cap on the shelf at a store, and maybe you even bought some, only to spray it and find out it's simply silver paint. These companies use a "real" chrome process on the caps in an attempt to deceive you into thinking you have bought something that will produce that result.

Chrome Spray Paint has a high output--double that of normal aerosols. It utilizes a larger spray fan and has excellent atomization. In addition, there's no pressure drop during application. Use it to produce quality automotive coatings.

This product offers both time and labor savings, as there is no paint mixing, spray gun preparation, or clean up thinner involved. This product has less overspray cleaning and polishing time, saving additional time and material costs.

Inventables (via Super Punch)


  1. Inventing a new material is a mind-blowing thing to me, a guy who just comes up with new ways of using what’s already out there.

    Congratulations to these people (who must have watched “Flubber” repeatedly in their youth).

  2. Awww, I wanted to buy some of this stuff but it all says “this product is not yet available for purchase.” I know some of this stuff is real but I wonder how much of it is vaporware (vapormaterial?). Or if this site will ever actually allow me to buy squishy magnets, water-hardening plastic, color-change fabric etc.

  3. That chrome spray paint would be great for making reflectors in a garden, or a solar heater from a parabolic shell. It’s a pity that, as dagfooyo says, it doesn’t actually seem to be available. Unfortunately the site gives us absolutely no indication as to why. So we don’t know whether it’s dagfooyo’s less-generous interpretation — it’s vaporware — or if it is simply out of stock.

  4. That said, there are an awful lot of cool materials on that site. If this post hadn’t chosen to show one of the few that you can’t actually buy, we would probably not have noticed it.

    I really want to start thinking of projects in which I can incorporate these things. Many are really expensive, but some are affordable even to a hobbyist.

    As for the original complaint: Inventables, please add information as to why something can’t be bought, and when/if it will become available!

  5. I’m not from inventables, I just chose that name because I wanted to tell you where to get that stuff and couldn’t think up a name on the fly. Here is where you can get that from, they have a ton of cool paints and effects:

    Inventables doesn’t invent anything, they just sell other people’s free samples.

  6. Inventables doesn’t invent anything, they just sell other people’s free samples.

    Really? Some of that stuff they are selling for hundreds of dollars.

    Oh wow. I’m just looking now at what the prices mean. They’ll sell you a “sample” of the transparent concrete, say, for $134. A “sample” that’s 4″x4″. Or a 17″ “sample” of translucent foil for $260. Or a tiny spool of conductive thread for $124.

    That’s crap for hobbyists. Maybe useful id you’re an architectural firm with a nice budget for random samples.

    But you say that they are samples that are normally given away free? (I assume free to, e.g. the aforesaid big architectural firms, not just any-old yahoo.)

    1. @SamSam
      Sometimes they are free, sometimes they want a little money for shipping or a bit more for expensive materials. It all depends on the company and who you talk to, it probably helps if you are in a manufacturing type business, but I’ve gotten a ton of stuff over the years as a student and hobbyist by just asking, especially if I’m doing a project that I can get them interested in somehow. Usually someone in sales will give away samples, especially if they think you’re going to buy more in the long run. If you can get the person to say, “cool”, then you’ll probably get a sample.

      Some of the things on that site are really basic things, like the one thing I saw was definitely Mylar, but they were calling it Glassless Mirror and were selling a 3×5″ piece of it stretched over a frame for $35!? There was also a clothesline tensioner on there, which I think is hysterical.

      A lot of it reads like the ads they used to have in old comic books. I could see them pitching something for “Miracle Wire!- has the ability to temporarily bind paper, pick locks, fix broken disc drives, and more! The possibilities are endless! Only $25.99!” and send you a handful of paperclips.

  7. I believe it’s because of Jeff Koons.
    Now anyone will be able to make a balloon dog
    and spray it chrome-like silver.

    (He don’t like that)

  8. Moderator Note: The commenter styling him/herself ‘Inventables’ has nothing to do with the subject of the post, as disclosed in comment #5. I am changing that display name to ♥♥♥♥♥ to avoid confusion.

    Henceforth, anyone registering a display name that gets on my nerves or causes me to do extra work will pay the price for their foolishness. You have been warned.

  9. I’m surprised this site hasn’t come up here before. Many of the maker type blogs, websites have discussed this site before.

    The conclusion of most folks is that most of the stuff there is available from alternate sources at VERY less cost.

    (I couldn’t find the specific site with this discussion – sorry. Maybe someone else can note the reference)

  10. Still no transparent aluminum? I thought Montgomery Scott gave Plexicorp the chemical formula for that stuff back in 1986.

  11. Interesting and cool stuff but their prices are a complete ripoff. They better cut prices down by at least 60-70% or won’t stay in business for long.

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