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Hello!

In this tutorial, we will teach you how to make a plexibender.
It's a machine to bend PMMA (Plexiglas).
With that we'll show you 2 possible lamps to make with it - but different armatures are possible.

Unleash your creativity!

You can find our blog with the whole process HERE

The pictures of the endresult are listed above. The video is listed at the end of this tutorial

This project was a school assignment for the University of Ghent - faculty of Courtray,
for prof. Jan Detand & prof. Davy Parmentier.

Step 1: What You'll Need

You'll need:

Materials

  • Multiplex of 3mm (triplex), 9mm and of 15mm
  • MDF 6mm
  • Aluminium plates of 0.8mm
  • A broomstick (diameter ~23mm)
  • Screw-thread of 8mm
  • Wing nut (4)
  • Flat washer (4)
  • Glue (wood & 2-component)
  • L-profiles (16)
  • Screws 2x13 (if not included with the L-profiles)
  • Nails (8) 2.8x65
  • Aluminium pipes of 1m (diameter 16mm and 21mm)
  • LED flashlights - You'll find the picture of the used flashlights above
  • Heating Element - You'll find the picture of our used heating-element above.

Note: As a heating element, we bought a table-grill of 2000W for ~23€ (~28$)
If you can't find a similar heating element, a teppanyaki/heating plate/plancha will work just as fine.

Note: You need the triplex, but it is possible to change the 9 and 15mm-Multiplex into 9 and 15mm-MDF.

Files

  • Lasercutfile 'Adjustable Element'
  • Lasercutfile 'Attachments'

Tools

  • Crayon + meter
  • (Table and band-) saw
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Lasercutter
  • Lathe
  • Milling Machine
  • Dremel
  • Circle Saw
  • Tube bender (important)

Note: If you don't have access to a lasercutter, you can make those specific elements just as fine with a saw (and dremel), but it will be less precise - wich will surely be precise enough for a DIY plexibender. For our task at the university, the plexibender had to be as precise as possible, that's why we used the lasercutter.

Note: If you don't have access to a lathe, you can drill the holes using vices to hold the broomstick steady. It is important to make sure that the drilled holes are in the center of and parallel with the stick. Once again, our plexibender is a school assignment and had to be as precise as possible, that's why we used the lathe.

Note: If you don't have access to a Milling machine of a Circle saw, you can use a dremel, but it will be less precise!.

Step 2: Main Plate + Box

Main Plate

  1. Saw the main plate out of a multiplex plate of 9mm
    Dimensions: 400x800 mm
  2. WAIT -> "Box"
  3. Glue the aluminium for the main plate to the main plate - centered
    Photo 9
  4. Drill holes of 2mm in the main plate at 15mm from the sides and 7.5mm from the aluminium
    (to attach the box to the main plate)
    Photo 10
  5. Draw & drill holes of 2mm in the main plate
    (to attach the L-profiles)

"Box"

  1. Saw the top plate out of a multiplex plate of 15mm
    Dimensions: 300x388mm
  2. Saw 2 side plates out of a multiplex plate of 9mm
    Dimensions: 195x400mm
    Photo 1
  3. Cut a hole for the heating element out of one of the side plates
    Dimensions: 100x200mm - centered
    Photo 2
  4. Cut a aluminium plate to fit the top plate
    Dimensions: 282x388mm
    Photo 3
  5. Cut a aluminium plate to place on the main plate (later)
    Dimensions: 282x400mm
  6. Cut 2 aluminium plates to fit the side plates
    Dimensions: 2x 195x400mm
    Photo 4
  7. Cut a hole for the heating element out of one of the aluminium side plates
    Dimensions: 100x200mm - centered
  8. Glue (2-component) the aluminium plates to the top and side multiplex plates
  9. Drill holes of 2mm in the multiplex

    (to attach tthe multiplex plates to eachother)

    For the side plates: at 15mm from the sides (top and bottom)
    Photo 5
    For the top plate: at 9mm from te side (de top plate is smaller than the side plates 388-400 and must be placed centered on top of te side plates)
    Photo 6

  10. Drill holes of 2mm in the multiplex sideplates at 30mm from the sides
    (to attach the L-profiles)
    Photo 7
  11. Attach the L-profiles to the side plates with screw
    Photo 8
  12. Draw & drill the 2mm-holes for the L-profiles on the topplate
  13. Attach the top plate to the side plates with screws
    Make sure that the aluminium faces the inside of the box
  14. Attach the L-profiles from the side plates to the the top plate
  15. Back to "Main Plate"

Step 3: Heating Element

Main Plate

  1. Saw the main plate out of a multiplex plate of 9mm
    Dimensions: 400x800 mm
  2. WAIT -> "Box"
  3. Glue the aluminium for the main plate to the main plate - centered
  4. Drill holes of xxmm in the main plate at xxmm
    (to attach the box to the main plate
  5. Drill holes of xxmm in the main plate at xxmm
    (to attach the L-profiles)
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  6. WAIT -> "Heating Element"
  7. Glue the heating element to the main plate
    Note: the holder of the heating element should be positioned adjacent to the aluminium of the main plate - centered
    Photo 5&6
  8. Glue the rod to the aluminium of the main plate
    Note: The correct position of the rod should be determined by you - It depends on the dimensions of your heating element
  9. Attach the "Box" tot the Main Plate with screws
  10. Attach the L-profiles of the sideplates of the "Box" to the Main Plate

Heating Element

  1. Disconnect the bought heating element
  2. Use your saw to cut the holder from the frame of the heating element
    Photo 1
  3. Draw the edges of the holder on a multiplex plate of 9mm
  4. Draw the edges (rod)of the supporting feet of the heating element on a multiplex plate of 15mm
    Here: Dimensions: 40x15mm
  5. Saw the multiplex plates in the dimensions of the holder and rod
    Photo 2&3
  6. Cut aluminium to the dimensions of the multiplex rod
    Photo 4
  7. Glue (2-component) the aluminium to the multiplex rod
  8. Glue the heating element to the holder, and the holder to the multiplex
  9. Back to "Main Plate"

Step 4: Adjustable Slab + Outer Rolls

Main Plate

  1. Saw the main plate out of a multiplex plate of 9mm
    Dimensions: 400x800 mm
  2. WAIT -> "Box"
  3. Glue the aluminium for the main plate to the main plate - centered
  4. Drill holes of xxmm in the main plate at xxmm
    (to attach the box to the main plate
  5. Drill holes of xxmm in the main plate at xxmm
    (to attach the L-profiles)
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  6. WAIT -> "Heating Element"
  7. Glue the multiplex and aluminium rod to the aluminium of the main plate
  8. Glue the heating element tot the rod and to the main plate
  9. Attach the "Box" tot the main plate with screws
  10. Reinforce the "Box" to the main plate with L-profiles
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  11. WAIT -> "Adjustable Slab"
  12. Drill holes of 2mm at 15mm from the sides of the main plate
    (to attach the adjustable slabs to the main plate)
  13. Draw&Drill holes of 2mm in the main plate
    (to attach the L-profiles)
  14. Attach the adjustable slabs (with 1 outer rolls inbetween 2 slabs) to the main plate with screws
  15. Attach the L-profiles of the adjustable slabs to the main plate with screws
    Photo 6&7

Adjustable Slabs

  1. Lasercut the adjustable slabs and the extra pieces on the 6mm-MDF plate
    Photo 1
    Note: See the extra lasercut-file
    Note: In the next stap, you also will have to lasercut - It's cheeper & more practical to do both at the same time!
  2. Draw&Drill holes of 2mm in the MDF slabs
    Make sure the L-profiles are align against the sides of the slabs
    (to attach the L-profiles)
  3. Drill holes of 2mm in the MDF slabs at 15mm from the sides
    (to attach the slabs tot the main plate)
  4. WAIT -> "Outer Rolls"
  5. Place 1 slab around every screw-thread of an outer roll
  6. Cut the nails of 2.8x65 to 2.8x15
  7. Put the nails through the holes of the extra pieces
  8. Place the extra pieces over the screw thread, followed by a wing nut
    Photo 5
  9. Back to "Main Plate"

Outer Rolls

  1. Saw the broomstick into 2 rolls
    Dimensions: 2x 382mm
    Photo 2
  2. Use the lathe to drill holes of 8mm and ~30mm deep in both sides of both rolls
    Photo 3
  3. Saw the screw-thread into 4 pieces of ~100mm
    For now, you only need 2 pieces, later you'll need the other 2
  4. Glue (2-component) the screw-thread into the 4 holes of the rolls
  5. Place a flat washer around every screw-thread
    Photo 4
  6. Back to "Adjustable Slabs", step 5

Step 5: Inner Rolls + Bending Plate

Main Plate

  1. Saw the main plate out of a multiplex plate of 9mm
    Dimensions: 400x800 mm
  2. WAIT -> "Box"
  3. Glue the aluminium for the main plate to the main plate - centered
  4. Drill holes of xxmm in the main plate at xxmm
    (to attach the box to the main plate
  5. Drill holes of xxmm in the main plate at xxmm
    (to attach the L-profiles)
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  6. WAIT -> "Heating Element"
  7. Glue the multiplex and aluminium rod to the aluminium of the main plate
  8. Glue the heating element tot the rod and to the main plate
  9. Attach the "Box" tot the main plate with screws
  10. Reinforce the "Box" to the main plate with L-profiles
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  11. WAIT -> "Adjustable Slab"
  12. Drill holes of xxmm at xxmm from the sides of the main plate
    (to attach the adjustable slabs to the main plate)
  13. Drill holes of xxmm at xxmm from the sides of the main plate
    (to attach the L-profiles)
  14. Attach the adjustable slabs (with 1 outer rolls inbetween 2 slabs) to the main plate
  15. Reinforce the adjustable slabs to the main plate with L-profiles
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  16. WAIT -> "Inner Rolls"
  17. Glue the attachments to the top of the box (crevices)
  18. Click the inner rolls in the attachments
    Photo 2 & 3
  19. WAIT -> "Bending Plate"
  20. Bend the bending plate, and the pressing-element into your Plexibender (under the outer rolls)
    Photo 4

Inner Rolls

  1. Saw the broomstick into 2 rolls
    Dimensions: 2x 400mm
  2. Lasercut the attachments (2) on the 6mm-MDF plate
    Note: See the extra lasercut-file
    Photo 1
  3. Back to "Main Plate"

Bending Plate

  1. Saw a Triplex plate (3mm,) to use as a top to bend your heated plexiglass on
    Dimensions: 100mm x 38mm
  2. Saw a multiplex plate of 3mm, to use as an element to press your hot plexi against the bending plate while it's cooling down
    Dimensions: 100mm x 19mm
    Note: It is recommended too change the plates (turn or replace) once in a while to let it flatten, and to disassemble the plates from the plexibender when you don't want to use it.
  3. Back to "Main Plate"

Step 6: Working Plexibender

Above you'll find all the pictures of our finished, working, DIY plexibender.

With that, you'll find the video of our working model and the proof that 2 endproducts are identical!
- wuhuw!

Step 7: Lamp 1

1. Aluminium tube: making it wider

  1. Mount the aluminium tube on the lathe
  2. Place the drill of 14mm
  3. Mark how far you want the drill to go
    Here ~60mm
  4. Check if the drill is positioned correctly
  5. Choose the turning speed of the lathe
  6. Find someone to hold the other end of the tube
  7. Turn the lathe on
  8. Drill until you've reached the mark
  9. Turn the lathe off
  10. Loosen aluminium tube.

2. Milling a groove

  1. Place the drill of 6mm in the milling machine
  2. Clamp the tube
    Note: Don't clamp it too tightly, or else your tube wil transform
  3. Check if the drill is places in the middle of the tube
  4. Mark the distance you want to mill.
    This distance depends on the position of the button on your little flashlight
    Here: 42mm
  5. Turn the milling machine on
  6. Mill the groove
  7. Turn the milling machine off
  8. Loosen aluminium tube
  9. Result: Photo 1

3. Bending the aluminium tube

  1. Install the tube bender, fix it well!
    Photo 2
    Make sure the settings are chosen for a tube with a diameter of 16mm
  2. Measure the distance until the start of the first bend
    Here 100mm
  3. Clamp the tube in the tube bender
  4. Think over which angle you'd like to bend the tube
    Here: 90°
  5. Bend the tube calmly, but with enough power
  6. Bend the tube a little bit further, since the tube has the tendency to rebound a little bit
  7. Loosen the tube from the bender
  8. Mark the distance from the end of the bend until the start of the next bend
    Here: 260mm
  9. Clamp the tube in the tube bender
  10. Turn the tube 90° down
  11. Think over which angle you'd like to bend the tube
    Here: 90°
  12. Bend the tube calmly, but with enough power
  13. Bend the tube a little bit further, since the tube has the tendency to rebound a little bit
  14. Loosen the tube from the bender
  15. Mark the distance from the end of the bend until the start of the next bend
    Here: 100mm
  16. Clamp the tube in the tube bender
  17. Turn the tube 20° down
  18. Think over which angle you'd like to bend the tube
    Here: 70°
  19. Bend the tube calmly, but with enough power
  20. Bend the tube a little bit further, since the tube has the tendency to rebound a little bit
  21. Loosen the tube from the bender
  22. Result: Photo 3

4. Remove the remaining part of the tube

  1. Mark the distance of the part that you want to remove from the tube
    Here 27mm
  2. Position the tube on the circlesaw
    Photo 4
  3. Start the saw and remove the remaining part of the aluminium tube
  4. Stop the saw and remove the tube
  5. Zet de machine af en neem de buis weg

5. Making a groove to clamp the plexiglas

  1. Use tape to mark the dimensions of the wanted groove
    Here: 20mm long, 2.5mm wide
  2. Start the dremel and cut away the wanted groove
    Photo 5
  3. Stop the dremel

6. Finishing touches

  1. Paint the armature and the piece of the LED-flashlight that is visible,
    preferably matte black
    Photo 6 and 7
  2. Mount the flashlight in the tube and place the plexiglas (55 x 290 x 3, bended over R=600) in the groove to keep the light from falling out.
    Photo 8

Step 8: Lamp1: End Result

You'll find the end result of Lamp 1, shown in the pictures above

Step 9: Lamp 2

Used LED-flashlight: Photo 1

1. Remove a part of the tube

  1. Mark the distance of the part that you want to remove from the tube
    Here 80mm
  2. Position the tube on the circlesaw
  3. Start the saw and remove the remaining part of the aluminium tube
    Photo 2
  4. Stop the saw and remove the tube
  5. Clamp the turning mechanism of the flashlight the piece of tube

2. Bending the aluminium tube

The process is the same as from Lamp 1, part 3.

  • First bend after 90mm, 90°
  • Second bend, 90mm further, 90°
  • Third bend, 235mm further, 20°
  • The angle of the forth bend makes sure that the end of the tube is pointing at the beginning of the tube.

3. Remove the remaining part of the tube

Normally, now, we'd remove the remaining part of the tube, in analogy of Lamp1, step 4. In this situation, it wasn't needed to remove a part of the tube. But, the bending process isn't precise, that is why we mention this step.

4. Making a groove for the plexiglass

In analogy to Lamp1, step 5.
Note, the groove has to be made in the little piece of tube that we made in Step1

5. Finishing Touches

  1. Paint the armature and the piece of the LED-flashlight that is visible,
    preferably matte black
  2. Mount the flashlight in the tube and place the plexiglas (55 x 290 x 3, bended over R=800) in the groove to keep the light from falling out.
    Note: For Lamp2, the flashlight has to be glued to the tube
  3. Cut pieces of lead and place them in the tube. Keep adding pieces until the lamp can stand on it's own. Glue the last piece in the tube, to keep the rest of falling out.

Step 10: Lamp 2: End Result

You'll find the end result of Lamp 1, shown in the pictures above

<p>thanks,</p><p>I guess the dimensions in step 5 for bending plate are in centimeters, am I right?</p><p>(Dimensions: 100mm x 38mm and : 100mm x 19mm)</p>
<p>Sorry you had to wait so long for the reply.<br>Indeed, I forgot to add a zero. The dimensions should be:<br>1000mm x 380 mm<br>1000mm x 190 mm</p>
<p>Do you think those elements could be unkinked? I want to make a straight line bender out of an old electric oven element but I'm afraid I'd snap the element. I don't know if it's coated with some sort of ceramic.</p>
<p>Like petercd posted, the element can't be unkinked. For us, this wasn't necessary since we didn't need a straight line bender, but one to bend plexiglass over different radii. As said by grayl, if you want a straight line bender, you can use nichrome wire. I seem to recall that there's a nice tutorial for that on youtube.</p>
<p>No they cant. I tried using one to solder a radiator seam in an emergency and upon straightening it cracked and wouldn't work anymore. Its basically a spiral element in a softish tube (seemed to be nickle plated copper) filled with a ceramic powder.</p>
<p>Use nichrome wire. Several guages are available on the web. Once you have the desired length and number of strands, you can use your electric drill to 'spin a line'. Use standoffs to support the line and now you have a linear heater.</p>

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Bio: Hello! My name is Charlotte and I'm a student Industrial Engineering Design Technology at Ghent University, Belgium. Hopefully, you can find some inspiration in ... More »
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