Acrylic Bending Tool




About: I am creating step-by-step, do it yourself project videos. My goal is to create something cool or useful from wood, plastic materials, electronics, etc. As I am huge DIY enthusiast, expect variety of differ...

In this instructable / video I am going to show you how you can make simple, cheap and very useful acrylic bending tool. It opens new possibilities and ways you can work with acrylic.

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Step 1: Preview

With this acrylic bending tool you can easily make accurate 45, 90 and 135 degree bends. It has integrated 90W power supply from an old laptop and the integrated power control.

Step 2:

For this build we will need to cut (from 9mm thickness plywood or MDF) these parts:

  • 1x 60 x 45cm
  • 2x 45 x 22cm
  • 4x 19.5 x 4.5cm (2 pieces just for better look)

Also we will need:

  • 45cm length aluminum U profile/channel (height slightly lower than plywood or MDF thickness)
  • M6 bolt with nuts and washers
  • M4 bolt with nuts and washers
  • Tension spring
  • Nichrome heating wire (in my case 52.5cm length)
  • Pair of hinges

Step 3:

In the one of 45 x 22 cm part we need to make a groove for an electrical wire.

Then this piece can be screwed to the base part (60 x 45cm).

Next with few drilled holes in the aluminum profile, we need to secure it on the base.

Now we can place other 45 x 22 cm part and secure the hinges.

Step 4:

We can cut out part of the plywood to slightly hide the hinges. It is not necessary, if you want less work just cut those pieces slightly shorter.

Step 5:

But what is necessary is to place the left bottom guide perpendicular to the aluminum profile.

And the top left guide in line with the bottom guide. This will give accurate bends without possible tilt to one of the sides.

Step 6:

In the left side we need to drill a hole for the M6 bolt and in the right side hole for the M4 bolt.

Next we need to cut a triangle which will limit bending angle at 135 degrees.

Step 7:

We can secure it with two screws. One thing that I changed - I made this piece from the plywood as it is more durable than a soft pine wood.

Step 8:

Without any pieces attached we get 135 degree bend.

With other simple pieces attached we get 45 and 90 degree bending angles.

Step 9:

Now we can secure heating and electrical wires between two washers in the left side. In the right side we need to wrap the heating wire around one end of the spring, and tighten the spring to the M4 bolt between two washers.

Make sure:

  • That spring have enough tension
  • Heating wire is tight between two bolts
  • Heating wire is in the center of the aluminum profile.

Heating wire MUST NOT touch the aluminum profile or it could cause short circuit.

Step 10:

For additional safety we can add two nails. They should be at least 1mm from the heating wire.

They are not the guide, they are just for the safety that heating wire wouldn't touch the aluminum profile in any case.

I wrapped other electrical wire around the one end of the spring, that it wouldn't touch the heating wire. By securing wire here, I even could add solder to it. As max temps there were just around 60C after 5 minutes of use.

Step 11:

To power this tool we can use very common 19V 4.74A 90W power supply from an old laptop. As you can get these really cheap it is pretty good power solution for this inexpensive build.

But we can't just directly connect it to this tool. With 19V and 3.4 Ohms resistance between wires we should get current of 5.6A (19/3.4=5.6). This can trigger over-current protection or overload the power supply.

So we additionally need to use the 10A PWM controller or the 8A Buck converter.

Step 12:

I done some efficiency testing and it looked that 8A buck converter is the way to go, especially when it had proper turn off click at the beginning of the rotation.

But I chose the 10A PWM controller. The reason why is that no matter what voltage you put in (12-40V) you have full range of the precise control without any dead zone on the knob. Meanwhile on the 8A Buck you have less rotation with a quite big dead zone at 19V input.

Step 13:

Now we can cut small piece of acrylic, temporary connect the PWM controller and make this simple holder for it.

Step 14:

In it we need to drill holes for the controller, for quick heat escape on top and for screws in the sides.

Step 15:

We need to connect electrical wires from the heating wire to the connectors on the controller where MOTOR is written. And power supply wires goes to connectors where POWER is written.

We can secure power supply wires and power supply itself on the base for full integration.

Step 16:

Finally, with the power meter we should mark different power states. I marked:

  • Lowest point as OFF
  • 60W as LOW
  • 90W as High
  • Max point as MAX

We shouldn't use more that 90W of power from a 90W power supply as it could damage it over time.

Step 17:

90W of power is more than enough for acrylic to bend from what I tested. So that's basically it.

I hope this instructable / video was useful and informative.
If you liked it, you can support me by liking this Instructable / YouTube video and subscribing for more future content. Feel free to leave any questions about this build. Thank you, for reading / watching! Till next time! :)

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56 Discussions


Question 16 days ago on Step 9

This is an excellent design!!....VERY useful!! Question: How can I safely get the wire to be hotter? The intent is to bend 3/8 or even half inch plastic.


5 months ago

Congratulations on the win! Awesome project, awesome execution, clear instructions, great avoidance of paragraphs, great usage of lists, great up-close pictures to show what needs to be shown.

1 reply

5 months ago

For the angle, you could add a half circle with a slut in which their would be a nut/block, on the outside next to the hinge. You could also mark angles on it as reference.
Then you position the block at the desired angle and you just got yourself a easy fully adjustable repeatable jib!
Else, really like the simplicity of your bender!!!

1 reply

Reply 5 months ago

Thanks! Yes that's another way of doing it. Thanks for the tip!
I doubt I will do other degree angles than 45 and 90. So that's why I made quickly attachable pieces which gets absolutely the same angle every time.


5 months ago

Very well written instructable and nice bender. I like the fact that you control the bend angle.
You might want to consider lining your aluminum u channel with glass cloth. It will keep the channel cooler and prevent the heating element from shorting to it.

1 reply

Reply 5 months ago

Thank you. I thought to wrap the aluminum channel with an electronic polyimide tape, but it was not neccessary, as the channel never vent above 95c and shorting the wire is really hard with a basic protection.
IMO for long term use, the tape could start to peel which will make just more problems.


5 months ago

nice i wish u make one that is for cutting Styrofoam i want to make a [_] hole in the thick foam keeping the part i gut out as the lid i have tried to just cut block and build the box but was not good foam braked where the glue was the best i could do is cutting with a utility knife the one where u can push out a long blade

2 replies

Reply 5 months ago

Not 100% sure what shape you want to cut but you can use a soldering gun and create your own custom hot wire cutting element that will cut Styrofoam. See my instructable where I used such a custom hot wire cutter: See photo 7 that shows a custom cutting tip made from copper wire as the tip in a soldering gun. You can plunge cut into Styrofoam and move it horizontally and then pull it out and cut a square block out. Hope this helps.


5 months ago

This is amazing! I need this tool for one of my future project and now I can copy your design. Good luck in the contest, you have my vote!

1 reply

5 months ago

Great concept and excellent video. I am now trying to think how to make a larger diameter rolled edge using your concept. Maybe alloy pipe with heat gun going through it and bend around pipe. Excellent .. you get my vote.

3 replies

Reply 5 months ago

Thank you!
That's quite interesting idea. If I understood correctly, it should look like in my image?
If so, there is one thing that's needs to be done - cooling the pipe after acrylic bends like this.
Still, I really like this idea!

Round bending.jpg

Reply 5 months ago

Yes that’s the concept. Thanks for the reply. I was thinking about a heat gun / air heating the pipe because it can also take the heat out.


Reply 5 months ago

Hmm, this definitely needs some testing. It's hard to tell how it would work. Nevertheless the idea is really interesting.