Electronics > Beginners

Bending smaller pieces of flat acrylic, polypropylene etc

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I've just discovered flat plastic sheet as a useful alternative material to metal in fabricating smaller items of between 4" and 8" in length/width. (I don't yet have a CNC plastic printer).

Has anyone here mastered the art of bending these plastics without investing in expensive heaters/benders?

I'm talking about simple 90° right-angle bends.

Tricks and tips welcome :)

Thank you!

I have not done it, but I would use a temperature controlled hot air gun and some suitable forms to bend around. If you want a right angle bend, construct a right-angle form with a rounded corner to use as a pattern. Then lay the sheet on a flat surface and carefully heat along the crease until it is bendy. Possibly cover the flat parts each side of the bend with foil to keep them cool. When the sheet is soft, carefully bend it along the crease against the form and hold it against the form until the plastic hardens again. Use your ingenuity and experiment a bit.

I bend pvc conduit with a lpg gas torch. If I was to try bending a flat sheet as you described I would construct a jig to hold the flat sheet or clamp it to a table with the fold line hanging off the end then heat the bend line with the torch moving fairly quickly at an even pace so it heats up evenly. Then once it has finished bending to the 90 deg after 20sec rub a wet rag on it to cool it down.

All you need is a linear heat source - for larger sheets I use an infrared bathroom heater with the reflector removed, for small pieces, a flat nozzle on a hot air gun.

For really small pieces you can use a soldering iron, just hold the plastic a few mm away.

i've tried bending plexi (1/4") with just a heat gun. didn't turn out too good... i think a jig and a oven would have worked better with a piece that thick.

i have had good luck with polishing out scratches though. this piece looked terrible when i found it.


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