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Material Collection

Healthier Model-Making Materials

Physical models and prototypes offer valuable opportunities for project development and evaluation. As with building materials, the health of materials used for model-making is crucial but can be a challenge when only a few manufacturers disclose ingredients. The lack of transparency may be partially due to a lack of requests from designers, architects and users in general. Many model-making materials are also exempt from publishing safety data sheets under OSHA’s definition of these products as “articles” (see OSHA definition for "article").

With so little health information available, attention and ingenuity are vital. Ask questions. Be creative. Seek healthy, inventive options to materialize your ideas on a small scale.

Healthier Model-Making Materials

18 products
How to Use This List

About Our Collections

The goal of our collections is to help promote transparency in the material ingredients of building products by fostering knowledge and awareness of products and materials for which life-cycle information is available, and that have environmentally, economically, and socially preferable life-cycle impacts.

Keep an eye out for the following symbols:
A Healthier Affordable Building Product

Products with the designation of "Healthier & Affordable" were specified and installed in at least one of our Case Studies of healthier affordable housing.

Available at the Donghia healthier Materials Library

The Donghia healthier Materials Library library is open to Parsons student and faculty. Learn more about access and opening hours here.

New Product

This product has been added to the collection within the past six months.

Ingredient Disclosures

There are several ways of evaluating a material’s health that we include with product information. Disclosures are reports by manufacturers about product ingredients, impacts, or other attributes.

Key Disclosures include:
Health Product Declaration (HPD)

A voluntary technical specification for reporting information on product contents and associated health information, intended to be the health-analogue to Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).

Declare Label

Declare is a transparency platform and product database that answers three questions: 
  1. Where does a product come from?
  2. What is it made of?
  3. Where does it go at the end of its life?

Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)

A standardized format for communicating the environmental effects associated with a product’s raw materials extraction, energy use, chemical makeup, waste generation, and emissions to air, soil, and water.

Safety Data Sheet (SDS)

A reporting format that provides basic information about a material’s chemical ingredients, the potential safety hazards to installers, and recommended practices for installation.

Other
Learn More
Category Sub-category Manufacturer Product Ingredient Disclosures

Isomalt

Isomalt is a product that is made by heating beet sugar, reducing it to disaccharide, then hydrogenating it using a catalytic converter. The end result is a sugar-like substance with lower levels of glucose than traditional sugar. Used most commonly in cake decorating, isomalt has the potential to replace resins or acrylic in model making.


Category
Pourables, Sugar
Manufacturer
Simi Cakes and Confections
Product Website

Material composition *

Beet sugar

As reported by manufacturer

AVAILABLE SIZING

6 ounces

COLORS

Available in a range of colors

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
Other
Last Updated

February 27, 2018

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

Seaweed Insulation

Available At the Donghia Materials Library

Seaweed insulation provides an organic alternative to materials such as mineral wool. Seaweed mats are formed using heat and high-pressure compression. It allows for a long lifetime and for repeated recycling, either reused as insulation or transformed into 2D or 3D designs. Advance Nonwoven's Seaweed Insulation is Cradle to Cradle Gold Certified. Their standard product contains no added flame retardants or antimicrobials. However, because these additives are available upon request, it is best to emphasize a desire for no added treatments when ordering the material.


Category
Fibrous, Cellulosic, & Granular Insulation, Seaweed
Manufacturer
Advance Nonwoven
Product Website

Material composition

90% seaweed, 10% recycled fiber

AVAILABLE SIZING

Thickness 10-250 mm, width 1200 mm max, length is unlimited

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
Other
Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard
Last Updated

March 13, 2018

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

Green Cell Foam

Made primarily from U.S. grown, non-GMO cornstarch, Green Cell Foam is a healthier and more environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum-based foams.

This material is compostable, biodegradable, and water soluble.

Its manufacture requires 70% less energy and generates 80% less greenhouse gas than traditional foams.


Category
Packaging, Corn
Manufacturer
KTM Industries, Inc.
Product Website

Material composition *

Corn Starch >90%, Water/Proprietary Additives/Processing Aids 1-10%

*As reported by manufacturer and SDS

AVAILABLE SIZING

Available in 1/4" and 1/2", with variable lamination thickness options

COLORS

Available in a range of colors

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS) icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Other
Last Updated

June 04, 2019

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

Thermacork Standard Insulation

Available At the Donghia Materials Library

Thermacork is a 100% natural, renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable rigid-insulation material produced from natural cork. Cork forests benefit the environment, acting as habitats for a diverse range of species as well providing a carbon sink that captures CO2 and greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.


Category
Board Insulation, Cork
Manufacturer
Amorim Isolamentos
Product Website

Material composition *

100% cork (suberin, lignin and cellulose).

*As reported by manufacturer

AVAILABLE SIZING

8"x 39” Panel - Available in a variety of thicknesses

COLORS

Burnt Cork

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS) icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Other
Declare | Red List Free
FSC Certification
Last Updated

September 21, 2016

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

BioFoam

BioFoam is a plant-based alternative to traditional EPS foams. This product is made from PLA (polylactic acid), a type of polymer derived from the production of sugar cane. Beads of PLA (BioBeads) are made through the fermentation process of the sugar cane, and then are expanded with CO2 into EPS-like pearls. BioFoam is the first CO2 neutral foam in the world, and is Cradle to Cradle Silver Certified.


Category
Packaging, Polylactic Acid (PLA)
Manufacturer
Synbra Technology
Product Website

Material composition *

Polylactic Acid (PLA)

*As reported by manufacturer

COLORS

Off-white beads

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
Other
Cradle to Cradle | Silver icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Last Updated

July 22, 2019

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

MycoFlex

Available At the Donghia Materials Library

MycoFlex, made by Ecovative, is a foam product made entirely from mycelium.

This high-performance foam can be used in a variety of applications, including textiles, footwear, technical wear, and beauty.

Because it is a natural material, MycoFlex is a completely biodegradable alternative to polyurethane foams. Its strength is comparable to conventional foams, and it provides superior insulation and heat resistance.


Category
Textile, Mycelium
Manufacturer
Ecovative
Product Website

Material composition *

100% Mycelium

*As reported by manufacturer

COLORS

Cream

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
Other
Last Updated

June 04, 2019

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

MycoComposite

Available At the Donghia Materials Library

Ecovative uses mycelium, the vegetative root structure of mushrooms, as a binder for regionally sourced non-food agricultural waste. These materials combine to make a bio-based alternative to plastic foam packaging and insulation materials. MycoComposite is biodegradable, naturally flame resistant, and water resistant, and Cradle to Cradle Gold Certified.


Category
Packaging, Mycelium
Manufacturer
Ecovative
Product Website

Material composition *

Mycelium (binder), hemp (substrate), flour (nutrition)

*As reported by manufacturer

AVAILABLE SIZING

18" x 18", 6"x 6"

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
Other
Cradle to Cradle | Gold icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Last Updated

February 27, 2018

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

Multi-Purpose White Glue

Blick's Multi-Purpose White Glue works on both porous and non-porous materials. This product has an AP certification from ACMI, which means it has been evaluated by a medical expert and certified as non-toxic.


Category
Adhesive, Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA)
Manufacturer
Dick Blick Art Materials
Product Website

AVAILABLE SIZING

Available in 4 ounce, 8 ounce, 16 ounce, and 128 ounce bottles

COLORS

White

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS) icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Other
AP Seal
Last Updated

July 25, 2019

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

White Glue Stick

Blick's Glue Sticks dry clear and create a permanent bond. They are suitable for use on paper, cardboard, and fabric. This product has an AP certification from ACMI, indicating it has been evaluated by medical & toxicological experts as non-toxic.


Category
Adhesive, Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA)
Manufacturer
Dick Blick Art Materials
Product Website

AVAILABLE SIZING

Available in 0.28 ounce, 0.70 ounce, and 1.41 ounce sticks

COLORS

White, Purple

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS) icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Other
AP Seal
Last Updated

July 25, 2019

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

Washable School Glue

Blick's Multi-Purpose White Glue works on both porous and non-porous materials. This product has an AP certification from ACMI, indicating it has been evaluated by medical & toxicological experts as non-toxic.


Category
Adhesive, Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA)
Manufacturer
Dick Blick Art Materials
Product Website

AVAILABLE SIZING

Available in 4 ounce, 8 ounce, 16 ounce, and 128 ounce bottles

COLORS

White

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS) icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Other
AP Seal
Last Updated

July 22, 2019

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

Plaster of Paris

Plaster of Paris, also known as gypsum plaster, is a healthier choice for casting materials. DAP's Plaster of Paris is made from gypsum, limestone, and quartz. It sets in 20-30 minutes without shrinking and is intended for interior use. This product is ideal for hobby, molds, and casts.


Category
Pourables, Plaster
Manufacturer
DAP
Product Website

Material composition *

Plaster of Paris 75-100%, Limestone 10-25%, Quartz 1-2.5%

*As reported by manufacturer and product SDS

AVAILABLE SIZING

4.4 lb. box of dry plaster

COLORS

White

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS) icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Other
Last Updated

July 22, 2019

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

PureBond Hardwood Plywood

A Healthier Affordable Building Product
Available At the Donghia Materials Library

Columbia Forest Product's PureBond hardwood plywood is formaldehyde-free, and is instead made with a soy-based binder. This North American-made product is also cost-competitive with standard plywood products, making it a fantastic healthier alternative.


Category
Dimensional Surface, Plywood
Manufacturer
Columbia Forest Products
Product Website

Material composition *

Wood Dust 95.65%, Other components below the reportable levels, (the specific chemical identity and/or percentage of composition has been held withheld as a trade secret) <1%

*As reported by manufacturer and product SDS

AVAILABLE SIZING

2’x 4’, 2’x 8’, 4’x 8’, 4’x 10’ Panels - available in standard thickness

COLORS

Variety of wood species

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS) icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Other
FSC Certification
Rainforest Alliance Certification
Last Updated

September 26, 2016

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

PureBond Classic Core® Plywood

A Healthier Affordable Building Product
Available At the Donghia Materials Library

Classic Core® is a combination core panel construction where cross bands of thin MDF are utilized in place of veneer cross bands.

Classic Core® can be manufactured with bonded crossbands which do not contain added formaldehyde. PureBond Classic Core® may contribute to LEED® 2009 credit IEQ 4.4 and conforms to CARB II exempt emission requirements called for in LEED V4.


Category
Dimensional Surface, Plywood
Manufacturer
Columbia Forest Products
Product Website

Material composition *

Wood Dust 98%, Polymerized Methylenediphenyl-Diisocyanate <10%

*As reported by manufacturer and product SDS

AVAILABLE SIZING

4’x 8’, 4’x 10’ Panels - 1/2”, 5/8”, 3/4”, 1” and 1-1/4” thickness

COLORS

Variety of wood species

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS) icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Other
FSC Certification
Rainforest Alliance Certification
Last Updated

September 26, 2016

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

Basswood

Sustainably harvested basswood is a healthy choice for model-making. Midwest Product’s basswood is harvested in Northern Michigan and Wisconsin, making it a preferable domestic wood.


Category
Dimensional Surface, Solid Wood
Manufacturer
Midwest Products
Product Website

Material composition *

Basswood 100%

*As reported by manufacturer

AVAILABLE SIZING

Available in a range of sizes, in scale lumber and sheets

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
Other
Last Updated

July 25, 2019

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

Wheat Paste

Wheatpaste is a natural, non-toxic adhesive. It has been in use for centuries and is commonly used to put up posters, make paper-mâché and collage, and for archival quality bookbinding. Playbox’s product is made from real wheat and is free of preservatives. It is sold in powder form and can be activated by adding water. Alternatively, wheat paste can be easily and inexpensively made at home. There are many DIY recipes, including this one, online. The gluten in wheat flour lends a permanent bond to wheat paste. Changing the ingredients will alter the permanence of the adhesive.


Category
Adhesive, Wheat
Manufacturer
Playbox
Product Website

Material composition *

Starch <70%, Crystalline Silica <0.5%

*As reported by manufacturer and SDS

AVAILABLE SIZING

Available in 1 lb. and 3 lb. buckets

COLORS

White, dries clear

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS) icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Other
Last Updated

July 25, 2019

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

Modelling Beeswax

Stockmar’s Modelling Beeswax is a nondrying wax that warms in your hand to create a reusable molding material. The product carries an AP Seal. It was developed for use in early childhood education, and was designed to be non-toxic and safe for this sensitive audience. In addition to meeting the toxicology standards of the AP Seal, Stockmar commissions an independent residual analysis laboratory to test every batch of ingredients that they use in their products.


Category
Sculpting, Beeswax
Manufacturer
Stockmar
Product Website

Material composition *

Paraffin (Microcrystalline Waxes) 64%, Beeswax 30%, Venetian Turpentine 3%, Synthetic Organic and/or Synthetic Inorganic Color Pigments >3%

*As reported by manufacturer

AVAILABLE SIZING

Available in 100mm x 40mm and 240mm x 100mm sheets

COLORS

Available in 15 colors

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
Other icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
AP Seal
Last Updated

July 30, 2019

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

Hardboard

Ampersand Art’s hardboard is a healthy, sustainable option for model-making. Sometimes referred to by the trade name Masonite, hardboard is a composite wood material that’s made by compressing wood dust. Ampersand Art’s flat panel board is 1/8” thick. It is NAUF, meaning it is made without urea formaldehyde and is made from FSC certified wood.


Category
Dimensional Surface, Hardboard
Manufacturer
Ampersand Art
Product Website

Material composition *

Wood Dust, Linseed Oil

*As reported by manufacturer and product SDS

AVAILABLE SIZING

1/8" thick boards are available in 5x7, 6x8, 8x10, 9x12, 11x14, 12x12, 12x16, 12x24, 14x18, 16x20, 18x24, 18x36, 24x36 inch flat panels

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS) icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Other icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Last Updated

July 30, 2019

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

Clayboard

Ampersand Art’s clayboard is a healthy, sustainable option for model-making. This product is made of the company's 1/8” thick flat hardboard panel, also called Masonite, coated in a layer of kaolin clay. The hardboard is NAUF and is made with FSC certified wood. The clay finish is sanded to a very smooth surface, making it ideal for painting.


Category
Dimensional Surface, Hardboard
Manufacturer
Ampersand Art

Material composition *

Kaolin, Wood Dust, Linseed Oil

*As reported by manufacturer and product SDS

AVAILABLE SIZING

1/8" thick boards are available in 4x4, 5x5, 5x7, 6x6, 6x8, 8x8, 8x10, 9x12, 10x10, 11x14, 12x12, 12x16, 12x24, 14x18, 16x16, 16x20, 18x24, 18x36, and 24x36 inch flat panels

COLORS

White

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Safety Data Sheet (SDS) icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Other icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Last Updated

July 30, 2019

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

The products in this collection have all been evaluated holistically for their contents and performance. A general lack of transparency in the current market makes evaluating the health of model-making materials challenging. With little information available, we have included products in this collection that have disclosed at least 75% of their ingredients by weight and/or carry a ACMI AP certification.

Spec Guidance

Avoid petroleum-based foam products. Polystyrene, which is commonly used to make foam core and sculptural foam, contains harmful halogenated flame retardants, which are endocrine disruptors and carcinogens. Polystyrene foam may off-gas styrene, a possible carcinogen. Instead, seek alternative board materials. New developments in healthier biofoams offer exciting substitutes.

Choose domestic modeling wood. Similar in performance and availability, basswood is typically grown in the U.S., as opposed to balsa wood which is harvested from tropical forests in Central America.

Prefer natural clays. Modeling clay can be a great way to create sketch models and quickly represent your ideas in three dimensions. However, many modeling clays are made from PVC (which contain harmful phthalates) or plastic polymers. Look for earth-based, flour-based, or oil-based products.

Look for materials with the AP Seal. The AP (Approved Product) Seal is a third-party certification that identifies materials having undergone a toxicological evaluation by a medical expert and are proven to be non-toxic. The AP Seal is Awarded by the Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI).

Be experimental. Look for healthier, innovative alternatives. Out-of-the-industry materials can lead to beautiful, inventive models.

Consider a mechanical fastener where possible to avoid adhesives.

Updated May 17, 2017
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