Introduction: Options With Hot Air Gun and Plastics (PS and ABS) Werkplaats IDC

Here's a tutorial on how to use a hot air gun. In this instructable, we show you the steps you have to take to make a beautiful shape out of polystyrene or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. We explain different applications for this prototyping technique.

You wont hurt yourself, if you follow these steps.

Have fun!

Fien & Alien

Step 1: Here's What You Will Need

one hot air gun

two protective gloves

a sheet of plastic (ABS or PS)

some foam

files and sanding paper


a small piece of wood

Step 2: Choose Your Plastics

If you want to use polystyrene, you have 2 options: 1mm or 2mm. Polystyrene is used to form a shell around your mold. We recommend the thickest because the finished product will be a lot firmer. You can use the 1mm, but you have to be more cautious in the heating process and your finished product will be less firm.

Another option is ABS, ABS is thicker than PS, so you can only bend it. To make it more easy, it's better that you cut it to the right width beforehand.

Step 3: Making the Foam Mold

Buy or search a piece of low density foam, it's not necessary to use high density foam. Using files and sanding paper, you will make your mold out of this foam. The better the foam is sanded, the better your finished product will look. (you can leave the bottom part bigger, that way it's less likely that you burn yourself during the heating process)

Step 4: Shape the PS Around Your Mold

Hold the polystyrene against the flattest side of the mold and start heating it up. It’s best that you only heat up one side and finish that before you do the other side That way you avoid air bubbles and excess material.

Step 5: Improve Your Shape

Look closely at your product and heat up the parts that don’t look the way they should. If there are any bubbles at the edge, heat them up and flatten them by stroking down carefully with a piece of wood.

Step 6: Demoulding

When the plastic has cooled down, you can remove the mold. Make sure you don't break it when you do so.

Step 7: Finish the Edges

Finish your product by sanding off the edges with a dremel, files and sanding paper.

Step 8: Bending the Polystyrene

If you want to bend the polystyrene 90 degrees, just hold it to the side of the table and heat it up. The plate will slowly fall down because of gravity. Make sure you don’t heat it too much so it doesn’t stick to the table.

Step 9: Bending the ABS

To bend ABS, lay the piece on the edge of a table (or the foam part) and heat up the part where it needs to bend. If you wait long enough, it will bend along the table or foam.

If you' re impatient, you can also bend it yourself: When the texture of the ABS changes, slowly push the ABS down. Don't use your bare hands for this, make sure you wear protective gloves.

Hold the bent part in place until it holds its shape.

Once the ABS has cooled down, it makes a very strong part.