FIMO CLAY CHANGED ITS FORMULA 8th August 2007

Fimo clays have recently undergone a formula change because of an EU directive that has meant the the plasticizer in the clay has been changed. All the Fimo clays now have a baking temperature of 110C (230º F) instead of the usual 130C (266º F) that we are all used to. The quality of some of the clays has changed and while the general hobbyist will probably find the clays easy to use, some of our professional users who have higher demands on the clays, particularly the doll makers, are not happy.

We are currently testing the new clays and observing their performance or jewelry, modeling, miniatures and doll making. We will update this page as soon as they are completed. We are now out of stock of the 130C (266º F)clay which has been discontinued.

TEMPERATURE CHANGE:
People are confused about the sudden switch to 110C (230º F) baking and are asking about the new Fimo's compatibility with the 130C (266º F) clays. The message from the manufacturer is that the clays are compatible with each other, can be mixed and used together, but should be baked at 110C (230º F). Our tests show that this means that the baked clay is not as strong as it was and we have found that baking the 110C (230º F new clay at 130C (266º F) shows no problems. Please be careful with your oven temperatures though, this lower bake clay may burn at a lower temperature than the original, so you need to be sure that the temperature does not go above 130C (266º F) or it will discolor and burn.

CLAY SOFTNESS - Colored clays:
The new clays are slightly softer than the original clays and this seems to please some customers but displease others! We are still testing thisaspect and will update as soon as the results are available.

FIMO DOLL CLAYS
Initial tests show that Miniature Doll Fimo is a lot softer than it was when it was first re-introduced. It is now very difficult to use for miniature dolls in my opinion. Soft Doll Fimo is also a problem with too much plasticizer.

We are waiting for more information from the manufacturers about this problem. Meanwhile, customers may wish to use Sculpey Living Doll instead. I have found this clay is excellent for making both full size and miniature dolls.

Sue Heaser
 www.polymerclaypit.co.uk

 

Comments By Andrea

According to the information supplied by the manufacturer to the British Polymer Clay Guild, the old Fimo formula did not contain any of the banned phthalates. The existing formula apparently complied with the new laws. They just removed all of them to play safe - presumably, they believe that at some stage the law will change again and they want to be ready.

For all you budding polymer clay users out there - no need to fear...

FYI - Phthalates are petroleum derivatives. Phthalate plasticizers are what make the clay soft and pliable. Phthalates are used in hair spray, shampoo, nail polish, perfumes and medical supplies we all use. They are approved for use by the FDA. Phthalates are biodegradable, and break down quickly in the body. There have been many studies, some ongoing and to date there is no scientifically proven evidence of any immediate physical harm or proof of reproductive damage from Phthalates. The only harm ever seen has been in lab animals at extraordinary doses. People exposed to phthalates over a lifetime get a dose that is 7 times LESS than these animals were exposed to.

In regards to the European REACH enactment.a publication dated May 2006 indicated an extensive European Commission scientific study has found that the phthalate plasticizers used most widely to soften PVC pose no human health and environmental risks and their use requires NO NEW REGULATION. The decision is the latest in an extended debate in Europe
over the safety of phthalates.

Polymer clay has been tested to death. It is true some of the older formulas contained chemicals that have since been discontinued. Among the studies I listed in my last post - I forgot to mention Consumer Reports - who also conducted extensive testing of the material and found it to be safe, with a few cautions about possible skin sensitivities (allergies, in some people), not burning the clay, not eating it, etc.

I doubt Eberhard Faber (a German company) and the makers of FIMO Classic formula, has eliminated its use of plasticizers to make it's polymer clay. FIMO contains polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resins mixed with phthalate plasticizers and pigments. Sculpey, Super Sculpey, and
Sculpey III - made by Polyform Products (Illinois) and Cernit (made by German company T&F) contain similar chemical formulas.

According to Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the old formula FIMO Classic listed no hazardous ingredients. It was "DEHP free", and Eberhard Faber made available a MSDS that stated the product has no hazardous ingredients, and decomposes at 190 C (375 F). Special
precautions include not heating past 130 C (275 F). Eberhard Faber also had FIMO tested by the Art and Craft Materials Institute, Boston, and were entitled to furnish FIMO with the seal: HL non-toxic, conforms to ASTM D-4236.

Earlier MSDSs for the Sculpey products indicated that they contained about 15% dioctyl phthalate, with the Chemical Abstract Services (CAS) number indicating it was actually di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, also known as DEHP. Polyform Products (maker of Sculpey) REFORMULATED the Sculpey products, removing the DEHP entirely and replacing it with
equivalent amounts of di-(2-ethylhexyl) terephthalate (DOTP), another plasticizer. This chemical is not considered to be carcinogenic by NTP nor by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and the limited research suggests only minor skin irritation after prolonged contact. In addition, Polyform also examined other ingredients, and purportedly removed lead compounds and other hazardous colorants that had never been listed on the earlier MSDSs.

Some people wonder if the EU companies will be more honest (about testing their own products for safety problems) than our US tobacco companies were.

So you see apparently although the company has changed its formula they say they are doing so for future advancement in laws and regulations that may or may not come. I still wonder though if they were being truthful with the public to begin with stating n their packages that the
stuff was safe and within the standards of use as recommended then why change it ???

None the less rather then to continue to be the end of the horse delivering the word that should come from the mouth themselves here is the link for more information that we obtained from Eberhard Faber go to:
http://www.bpcg.org.uk/announcements.htm

~hugs~
Andrea "Cre8"

http://www.tinycrafts.com

15th August 2007

Meeting with Fimo manufacturer Eberhard Faber by Pat Goodall-McIntosh Philippa Todd Angie Scarr

First, the good news - such as it is. The result of our meeting was that Eberhard Faber realised that we have big problems with the new FIMO classic which they take very seriously, whilst there are other users who haven´t any problems with the new clay. They will look at how to improve it and expect to be able to come back to us by January next year. Faber marketing director Nils Henssen said: "We will try and work it out and hopefully come to a satisfactory solution. It is a difficult problem".

Nils wants to hear from Fimo users about any problems they have. Please get in touch with him - and pass his email address on to anyone you know, here or overseas, who has had experience of the new formula: nils.henssen@eberhardfaber.de

Next, the bad news. There is little chance of Faber developing a new clay specially for artists and adults. They say research and development would take around two years and cost a great deal. They cannot put that sort of investment into a new product. In any case, the brand name Fimo is officially classed as a toy. The rules are: once a toy, always a toy. A new adult clay would have to have a new name, and Faber is not willing to lose their well known branding.

The long awaited meeting with the Fimo manufacturer finally happened 20th September. We (Philippa Todd, Pat Goodall-McIntosh and Angie Scarr) travelled to Birmingham to meet Nils, along with Faber chemist and product manager Kerstin Humplmair, and Staedtler marketing manager Nicholas Lee. For those who aren't aware of the intricacies, Staedtler is a subsidiary of Eberhard Faber and distributes Fimo in the UK. The clay is made in Germany so the British company do not really know much about it other than distribution.

We pulled no punches in telling them how disastrous the new formula is for detailed modelling and caning. If they thought they were in for an easy ride with a group of soft-headed amateurs, they swiftly realised they were wrong. In fact, you could almost hear the gears change. It swiftly became a productive and positive discussion about how best to go forward. Nils wrote to us afterwards: ". . .this was a really good meeting. Frankly spoken on both sides."

As we had guessed, Faber had not understood how the clay is used by professionals and artists. Nils and Kerstin were tremendously impressed by the samples we had brought with us, including miniatures, some of Hetty Scott's work, flowers and Angie's book. We also provided copies of our recent survey, Philippa's test results and email correspondence.

Philippa had put together some brilliant display boards illustrating the problems relating to stretch, caning and modelling, and comparing results from the new formula with the old Fimo Classic we know and love. Cameras were out instantly to make sure they had a record to take back to Germany.

It seems Faber has made the clay softer in response to complaints from the USA that it was too hard and "crumbly". The previous formula continued to harden after leaving the factory, so by the time it reached customers in the States it could be several months old and quite hard. The new formula retains the same consistency no matter how old it is. We pointed out that they hadn't heard from all the users who were happy with the clay as it was - and showed them examples from several American books of artists who use Fimo Classic exclusively because they want a firm clay. What's more, our survey had confirmed that fewer than one in ten users wanted a soft clay. Most wanted ease of modelling, good caning or both. Too late now, sadly.

We did get some clarity about the baking temperature. The new clay does bake satisfactorily at 130º and is stronger at that temperature. However, baking temperature is judged by automated machines in the lab. The EU officials who regulate these things prefer to believe the machines rather than the judgement of human beings. That is why the label advises baking at 110º.

Nils confirmed they had not publicised the new formula because they wanted to avoid any bad publicity about phthalates in the old clay. He has promised to improve communication with users, including the BPCG and other Guilds. He agreed they had not done anything to promote Fimo Classic for some years, but they were planning a new campaign next year. We suggested they'd better improve the clay before then, or they will have lots of dissatisfied customers. His face was a picture when we told him there are two UK companies who may be interested in developing a new polymer clay.

We are not entirely confident the Faber people appreciated just how important translucent is to makers. They have moved this colour into their Effects range and it is no longer sold in the large blocks. It seems there are particular difficulties in manufacturing this colour, which cause much frustration in their production department.

They were not willing to tell us what new plasticiser they are using in place of the old phthalate esters: a trade secret, they said. They had no answer to our concerns about the poor stretch of the new formula and its peculiar reverse elasticity. We suspect that it is due to the properties of whatever their new plasticiser is, and that a good replacement for phthalates has not yet been developed.

Nils is convinced the USA will go the same way as the EU and ban phthalates completely. They are currently fighting a lawsuit in California where some idiotic environmental group is claiming Fimo has contaminated the water system because people using the clay then wash their hands and the waste water enters the system. Sounds ludicrous, not least because there are far more serious sources of phthalates in the environment than polymer clay. On the other hand, the Art & Craft Materials Institute, the official certifying body in the USA, carried out tests only three or four years ago that found there was no danger of contamination during normal use.

(NOTE: I had a long discussion with Wayne Marsh of Polyform back in June and he said that the new plasticizers for the EU are already in Premo and Sculpey - and he is pretty confident that most people will not be able to tell any difference. They went with a new plasticizer that is the same bake temperature and produces a virtually identical texture - Sue Heaser)

We will bring you more news about Fimo and the American situation as soon as we have it. Nils says he hopes to: "come up with some new information very soon", so watch this space.

We do already have news about Creall-therm Professional clay. The manufacturer has stopped making this clay altogether. They do still have a very soft clay marketed to schools for use by children, but this comes in a limited colour range.

Please let Nils know about any problems you have experienced with the new formula Fimo. And please circulate this report to your friends too , especially those in other countries including France and the USA. Contact Nils at: nils.henssen@eberhardfaber.de

Pat Goodall-McIntosh
Philippa Todd
Angie Scarr
September 2007

October 2007 Update: Eberhard Faber have invited Pat, Philippa and Angie to go over to Germany for a workshop to find what we need from the clay. That could be very useful. We will keep you posted of any more news as and when it happens - Shelley

Note : The articles is extracted from British Polymer Clay Guild

Asking Polyform Company to Clarify the Statment and Comment

October 16, 2007

Wayne, Can you clarify about the statements below
 
"(NOTE: I had a long discussion with Wayne Marsh of Polyform back in June and he said that the new plasticizers for the EU are already in Premo and Sculpey - and he is pretty confident that most people will not be able to tell any difference. They went with a new plasticizer that is the same bake temperature and produces a virtually identical texture - Sue Heaser)"
 
http://www.garieinternational.com.sg/clay/shop/fimo_new_formula.htm
 
http://www.bpcg.org.uk/articles/fimo%20meeting.htm
 
"Very interesting, Valerie and what Wayne from Polyform said is a bunch of
hooie. Premo is so mushy now that many are switching to Kato.
Trina"
From People Clay Polymer Forum
 
Thanks,
Best Regards,
Garie

 

October 17, 2007

Hi Garie ­ I don't remember the specifics of the conversation with Sue, but we did notice that Fimo changed their formula. In order to maintain our strict adherence to high quality materials and staying within the legislation surrounding products marketing to children, there are ongoing minor adjustments to the clay formulations on a regular basis. While there have been no major shifts in the formula, a talented and discriminating artist will likely be able to feel these minor shifts.  We test  all of our clay with consumers regularly and try our best to maintain standards that appeal to the broadest population of users possible.
 
I do remember complaints on some Premo for being too soft, but I would say that it was a more isolated incident.
 
Wayne M. Marsh
Polyform Products Company
19680 6575 Road
Montrose, CO 81401

Web: www.polyformproducts.com

 

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