Introduction: Get Bent! Bending Plastic With a Heat Strip Bender!
Bending plastic is fun and exciting...ok, the amount of enjoyment may vary from person to person...but you get the idea.
All you need is plastic and a heat bender. Luckily, i have access to a heat bender at TechShop in San Jose, CA.
As a note, you should always do a test to make sure that your plastic can be heated and formed. Some plastics like poly carbonate with show black specs when heated, and these will not go away. In addition, I do not recommend heat bending material more than 3/8s of an inch thick.
Anyway, you have to bend plastic, and you want to do it right, so this is the place for you! Now, onward, to the instruction!
Step 1: Prep! Removing Protective Film and Marking the Plastic for Meassurment
When handling sheet plastic, it is always best to keep the protective film on it for as long as possible to avoid scratches. Because we are going to be applying thermal energy to the plastic, you must remove the film. If you do not remove the film, the film will melt to your plastic will be nearly impossible to remove. Remove the film only along the area you will heat bend so that the rest of the plastic stays in good (unscratched) shape.
The easiest way to mark your plastic is to use a sharp knife. Carefully mark the areas you want to bend with a light scratch. This scratch can be buffed out, or will normally just melt back into the plastic during the heat bending process.
Step 2: I AM BENDER, PLEASE INSERT GIRDER!
Place your plastic on the heat bender. You will be able to see the plastic distort from the heat build up. This can take anywhere from 10 minutes when your machine is first heating up to 30 seconds when your machine is nice and hot. You should always stay in the room and watch your plastic. If you don't, you could burn it, which will cause it to bubble and turn black, at which point your plastic will be as good as scrap.
You can test your plastic to see if it is malleable. Once it is easy to bend, you have found the right spot. Take it off of the bender and put it into an adjustable angle setter or a pre made mold with the appropriate angle cut into it. For the best results, push your piece into the setter and then clamp it down. You should only have to wait a few minutes until your piece is cool enough to handle!
As a finishing note, you may have noticed that the outside edges ave bowed a bit. feel free to sand them down, they are essentially jump left over squished material.