Introduction: Forming Styrene Into a Door Hook

Styrene (aka Polystyrene, High Impact Polystyrene or HIPS) is an awesome material. You can cut it with craft knife, scissors, rotary tool, a CNC or a Laser Engraver. It's pretty widely available. It's durable. It's easy to form. It's pretty easily acquired. It's inexpensive.

I had some scrap available from a previous project and decided to make this instructable!

This process is a simplified version of Line Bending. We will need only a small torch, a craft knife and a marker.

Step 1: Tools & Materials

1) Small Butane Torch.

This will be used for heating the plastic. I use a Radio Shack - Mini Butane Gas-Powered Iron. These are available at most Radio Shack stores or you can order one [here].

2) Washable Marker or Pencil.

This will be used for marking the material.

3) Craft Knife or Razor.

Used for cutting the material. Heavy duty scissors will also work.

4) Styrene sheet.

Also known as High Impact Polystyrene or HIPS. This will be our material. I am using a 7.6" x 11" sheet at 0.03" from ACE Hardware for around $2.00. More sizes and thickness are available at most Hobby stores like Hobby town. Sheets of varying size and thicknes ordered online for around $0.62 a piece (with volume discounts available) at E Street Plastics or at volume from Professional Plastics

Step 2: Cut and Mark

Cut a piece of your Styrene into a strip about 1/2" Wide and 4" or 5" long. Longer is better as you can always trim it down later. With the Washable Marker mark the width of the door on your Styrene strip starting about half an inch away from the end. I'm usually pretty crazy about accurate measurements, but not today.

Step 3: Heat the First Bend

Light up your Torch and hold it about 3" away from the bottom of your Styrene. Move the torch back and forth along the first line you mark you made until the longer end begins to droop.

Grab the drooping end and bend the Styrene at a 45 degree angle along your mark and hold it there for about 30 seconds. The plastic will cool and harden very quickly. It's still hot! So let it cool for about a minute before proceeding to the next step.

Step 4: Making the Second Bend

Do basically the same thing as the previous step, but move to your next mark.

Step 5: Make the Hook

Now we will move to the hook.

On the long end of your strip choose and heat an area where you want the hook to start.

Bend the end in the opposite direction about 135 degrees (or until it looks right).

Step 6: Hang It Up!

Trim off any excess Styrene and hang the hook off of the top of your chosen door!

Use this technique to form all sorts of objects!

Comments

author
Mindmapper1 (author)2014-03-28

Cutting HIPs or Polystrene on a laser is NOT a good idea, it gives of fumes which are harmful to humans and pets.

author
Neon_c (author)Mindmapper12014-03-28

As long as you're exhaust system is adequate, there is nothing to worry about.

author
Mindmapper1 (author)Neon_c2014-03-31

mmm think not styrene fumes can induce cancer, sterility and more but its up to you.

author
Neon_c (author)Mindmapper12014-04-01

I understand that you don't really have reason to believe me, but if you send me a message in private I am happy to provide my professional contact information. You can call or email me during business hours and I will be happy to explain the safety features of a Laser Engraver and can instruct you on how to read the MSDS of a particular type of material to be sure that it is safe to use. I will not however, be posting my business details or I will be expected to answer questions about work when I'm supposed to be at home. So unless you would like to ask a question about the instructions contained in this instructable or a degree in advanced fluid engineering AND gas chromatography mass spectroscopy information to back you're data, as the manufacturers of the laser systems do no further comment is necessary. How ever if you do use a Laser system and you can smell your material as it is running then you must discontinue the use of the laser, vent the room, and contact an HVAC specialist to have you exhaust system repaired. Running common materials like wood, acrylic, and laser plastic with a malfunctioning or inadequate exhaust system is very dangerous and can cause brain damage that - in severe cases - can lead to death, not to mention the build up of flammable gasses inside of the machine can ignite.

author
Some Dork (author)Neon_c2016-01-07

Completely agree with this. We have two different laser systems at my office, and the corporate watchdogs are EXTREMELY picky about what they'll allow us to run in them. Polystyrene/HIPs are on the "approved" list. Properly vented, as you say, this material is safe for cutting/etching on the laser.

Great info on bending; exactly what I was looking for!

author
Some Dork (author)Neon_c2016-01-07

Completely agree with this. We have two different laser systems at my office, and the corporate watchdogs are EXTREMELY picky about what they'll allow us to run in them. Polystyrene/HIPs are on the "approved" list. Properly vented, as you say, this material is safe for cutting/etching on the laser.

Great info on bending; exactly what I was looking for!

author
Some Dork (author)Neon_c2016-01-07

Completely agree with this. We have two different laser systems at my office, and the corporate watchdogs are EXTREMELY picky about what they'll allow us to run in them. Polystyrene/HIPs are on the "approved" list. Properly vented, as you say, this material is safe for cutting/etching on the laser.

Great info on bending; exactly what I was looking for!

author
Some Dork (author)Neon_c2016-01-07

Completely agree with this. We have two different laser systems at my office, and the corporate watchdogs are EXTREMELY picky about what they'll allow us to run in them. Polystyrene/HIPs are on the "approved" list. Properly vented, as you say, this material is safe for cutting/etching on the laser.

Great info on bending; exactly what I was looking for!

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