What's in the back of your average graphic design studio? Books of those Pantone swatches--bor-ring. But go into the back room of any ID consultancy and you'll see one of these:
For you ID students that haven't seen one yet, those aren't sets of game cartridges, but plastic sample sets that you'll use to evaluate whether to go with ABS, HDPE, PVC or a plethora of other plastics for any given project. Each piece gives you an idea of each materials' weight, feel, stiffness, surface appearance, draft angle requirements, sensitivity to sink marks, suitability for living hinges, et cetera.
The molds for these sample pieces are complicated by necessity, as they have to demonstrate every manufacturing trick in the repertoire of injection molded plastics:
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Depending on where you shop, these can get expensive. The 20-piece set you see above, sold by MaterialSampleShop.com, rings in at €370.00 (USD $436). However, the 20-piece set below, sold by PlasticSamplesKits.com, offers many of the same features but sells for just $95.
Junior designers: As a form of subversion, you can hide the pucks of just the plastics you don't like. It'll drive the senior designers crazy. "Where the f*@# is the Polybutylene Terephthalate?"