Introduction: Bending Plywood With 3D Printer

About: Student, Maker, Designer

This is an experiment to bend plywood with 3D printed tool.

I have bent plywood before.The method used at that time is so-called molded plywood.

Apply glue to the plywood, pile several pieces and put them in the mold.

I was surprised at its very simple way.At the same time, I felt it was very hard to make the mold.

Since I was making in a workshop with various tools and facilities,I managed to make it well and I did not have to worry about the noise caused by the tool.

So, I will not try molded plywood at home.

Finally,a beautifully curved plywood and a mold that can only make it are completed.
Unless considering the production and disposal of the mold, the molded plywood is fun and you can easily create curved surfaces.

So I came to wonder if molded plywood could be made easier.

I am not very good at woodworking and I do not have much tools.

But I have a 3D printer. I made a simple tool with a 3D printer.

And with that tool I made this lamp experimentally.

I apologize in advance that English is not my first language

Step 1: Concept

First of all, let's briefly explain how to bend.

A mold is necessary for the molded plywood.

(This article is very easy to understand for molded plywood.People who try this experiment should read this article. Especially about veneer.)

Like the attached image, the mold consists of two parts.

I tried to simplify these two.

Make a frame with 1 * 4 spf lumber, and make a curve with a thin PP plate in it. Then put several pieces of plywood with adhesive in the frame.

Finally, put the ball in the gap and inflate it.

In short, it is a molded plywood made by the power of air.

And, this mold is repeatable deformable mold.

You do not need a great workshop or special tool.

Step 2: Materials

1×4 SPF lumber

Plywoods / Veneers (When I purchased this, I had it cut to a height of 87 mm at the store)

PP Sheet

M6-110mm bolts and nuts


Step 3: Tools

lubber ball (300mm)



(heatgun or iron)


wood glue


wood shaver


impact driver

Step 4: 3D Printing

First, print a joint that connects spf lumbers.

3D data is here.

There are two 3D models. 3 pairs are required.

Step 5: What Is This Tool?

As shown in the photo, fix the parts to the tip of the SPF.

This is the only preparation.

You can make a frame by combining SPF like the photo.

Step 6: Design

Because this is an experiment, I only want to see if it is possible to bend plywood in this way.

However, it is more fun to make things that can be used at home.

So, I decided to make a lamp that gently shines the room in the corner of the room.

A good thing about this method is that you do not need knowledge of 3D modeling, you can bend the plywood as if you were drawing a sketch.

Without determining the dimensions, I just drew a very rough sketch.

I will decide after bending the details, such as handling the code.

Step 7: Frame

Joints move freely.

This time, I need to make a triangle.

I adjusted the size and found the size I wanted to make.

Step 8: Curve

Use a sheet of polypropylene to determine the radius of the curve.

When the curve that I want to make is completed, I use tacker to fix the sheet to the board.

That is the completion of the mold. I can make a red line curve with this mold.

Step 9: Pre-Bend(extra)

In truth, I did not plan to do this work.

However, the 1.6 mm thick plywood I had prepared could not be bent small.

Plywood is only thin wooden film is overlaid with glue.

So I decided to bend the plywood a little in advance by softening the adhesive using a heat gun.

You can do the same thing with an iron.

Step 10: Glue

Before applying the glue, make sure that the plywood can fit in the mold without breaking.

Glue are those sold for woodworking. It is not a special glue.

Just apply and pile it. You need to do it quickly.

Using a roller, you can paint the glue very easily, quickly and uniformly.

I put plywood of 1.6 mm thickness on 5 layers.

Step 11: Insert Into Frame

This frame is assembling lumber with gaps.
You can insert plywood from this gap.

Depending on the shape, it may be easier for you to remove the bolt.

This time, remove the bolt of one joint in advance. Insert the stacked plywood inside, then return the bolt to the original position.

Insert the PP sheet in between so that the plywood will not stick to the SPF.

Step 12: Inflate

Using a vinyl string, hold down the corners, and inflated the rubber ball.

Look into the gaps and check that they are firmly sticking.

Step 13: Wait

It is truly a strange sight.

No balls are needed in the unbent portion. I only used 2 small clamps. I put a weight on the bottom.

I left it for 24 hours in this state.

Step 14: Release Air

Step 15: Disassemble Frame

Step 16: Success?

The part using the ball is perfect.

I could not apply a force well to the bent part at the top, so a gap was created.

Anyway, I could bend, so let's complete it.

Step 17: Clamping(Extra)

I thought that it might be possible to adhere to the part with a gap, I tried to fix with clamp after applying the glue in the gap.

Step 18: Cutting

Step 19: Shaving

Look at this picture!

I do like this line produced by molded plywood.

Step 20: Wiring

Just put a socket.

For now, I fixed it with double-sided tape.

Step 21: Lighting Up

Step 22: Adding Joints(Extra)

I made three additional joints.

In order to stabilize the frame you will need to create at least one triangle.

As shown in the photograph, when making one turn, it is necessary to align the plywood length beforehand.
It is thin so it is possible to cut easily if there is a cutter.

This form did not require pre-bend.

It seems to be important whether the length is exactly aligned or not.
There was a part which was doing well and a part which was not so. Again, I pinched the failed part with a clamp.

Step 23: Mounting to Wall(Extra)

Step 24: Insert Spray Can(Extra)

Of course, there are restrictions on the shape that can be made with this frame.

However, there are forms that can be made by modifying the frame a little.

Step 25: Mounting Wall(Extra)

Step 26: Fusion360(Extra)

I used fusion 360 for the design. This data is a joint only for 1 × 4 lumber, but if you edit the data you will be able to handle lumber of various sizes such as 2 × 4.

Step 27: Enjoy Bending

This is an experiment, and it can not be said that it was perfect.

There are some problems that need improvement.

However, using the SPF used for the frame, you can make something different by changing the angle and curve. Or you can duplicate the tool. This is not a mold. This is a reusable tool.

And, this experiment was done in a small room. There are no special facilities or tools.

Because there is no noise, neighbors do not get angry.

It is fun to bend the plywood without the workshop without the mold.

So, why do not you try it?

There is no need for a great workshop. Plywood can be bent in the living room.

More than anything, not only had my 3D printer run, it was fun to move my hands.

Anyway, enjoy bending.

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or opinions, ask me anything.

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