[Solved] Removing plastic filer: How to

Thread Starter

ballsystemlord

Joined Nov 19, 2018
76
Hello,
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Recently, I got a broken piece of outdoor equipment, a Hunter Node (battery powered irrigation sprinkler valve on/off device). It was broken. The screen gave a crazy display and it was non-functional.
It can't be warrantied, so I decided, for fun, to open it up and see what I could do to it. This meant cutting it open, as it was sealed completely from all sides including getting to it via the batter compartment. There were no visible screws, even after pulling all stickers and foam padding for the battery. Now that I cut it open, I can see that there are 4 screws, although I still have no idea how I would have gotten to them.
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The electronics compartment contains plastic filler. It's not like the exterior ABS (or maybe PVC.) It's very slightly soft. It's the perfect 50% grey color and has a matte finish. I'd like to try and chemically soften it so I can get to the electronics. The problem is, when I search "plastic filler" online, or anything similar, I get fillers for plastic; like fly ash. Does anyone have a clue what sort of plastic this is, or how I can chemically soften it?

Again, this is only for fun. I have several small pieces of the interior plastic to test on. If I ruin the whole thing it doesn't matter. Also, I don't have an extensive set of chemicals, so don't expect an instant "Yes, it works," or "No, it doesn't."

Thanks!
 

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MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
1,839
Unfortunately, your question comes two or three years late. There are two solvents, Methylene Chloride and NMP that would easily soften/dissolve most paints, plastics and foams. Now, every major retailer has finally vowed to stop carrying strippers and solvents that contain these chemicals.
The next closest thing is chlorinated version of brake cleaner (tri-chloroethylene). That is, not the brake cleaner that is advertised as "more environmentally friendly".
The last option is something like carburetor cleaner that contains MEK (methyl-ethyl-ketone). The last option that is boring and slow would be acetone.
In all cases, remember that winter is a bad time to do this because it is cold outside where it is well ventilated enough to do this without making a bunch of flammable fumes in your garage or basement. That means, the solvent will be cold and it will slow the solvent swelling into the polymer. The plastic will be cold and stiff which will also slow the solvent penetrating the plastic. They said, don't do this indoors - flammable vapors and possible toxic fumes could ruin you or your home.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
25,469
A soft electrical sealant Grey in colour, sounds like Electricians terminal box sealant, it has the texture of soft putty, not sure what the solvent would be for it, I have some on hand and could maybe test it.
 

Thread Starter

ballsystemlord

Joined Nov 19, 2018
76
A soft electrical sealant Grey in colour, sounds like Electricians terminal box sealant, it has the texture of soft putty, not sure what the solvent would be for it, I have some on hand and could maybe test it.
I said "very slightly soft" for a reason. ABS and PVC are very hard plastics. You hit one of them with a hammer and they hit back. This stuff is more like HDPE hardness (milk jug or shampoo bottle) -- but it's not HDPE, of course.
 
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