I'm trying to build a heating element suspended 1" from an aluminum surface, and 2" below what will be a piece of acrylic (hopefully up to 1/2" thick) suspended by aluminum covered 2x4's. I want to have a rheostat (I think that's what they're called) for variable control of the heating element. The width of the element is undetermined, although 1/2" is probably close and this may be of little relevance. The aluminum case itself is 21"x6" and 3" deep So far, I've harvested a coil of Nickel Chromium from a cheap space heater but in trying to create a suspended piece, I've done little but destroy my NiChrom. It was cool, sparks and all, but I'd like to get it right this time.
I do not wish to use a torch or heat gun as the pieces are to be wide and the heat must be even over the width to create an aesthetic bend.
I will post some photos of the pieces tomorrow.
Feel free to throw your hat in on any questions you want to answer.
How much NiChrom. do I need to heat 1/2" acrylic to around 400 degrees (F) for malleabiity?
What is the best way to mount or suspend the nichrom.?
What is the appropriate method to attach NiChrome to the wiring? (My home made coil using 1/16" copper wiring as a cast was sound in theory, but practice yielded sagging of the strip when active, and eventually sparky explosions at the mounts, after which time this question came to mind.)
What kind of Rheostat do I need? What kinds are there? What's the difference? Can I get away with using a 120v/600w Dimmer switch instead (please say 'yes')?
What is the ideal heat for bending thicker acrylics?
Would a fan below the heating element help disperse the heat evenly over the acrylic, or mess up the dispersion?
Can a heating element such as this create sufficient heat to 'weld' 2 pieces together? Is this even possible?
Thanks. I'm sure I'll have more questions before you can answer those.
Peace - Ian.Wms