Plexiglass is a clear plastic that is often used as a more lightweight, durable glass substitute. It is shatter-resistant and very strong, making it an ideal material for use in a variety of applications. One of the most common uses for plexiglass is in windows, windshields, and doors.
While it is possible to buy plexiglass sheets already cut to size, many people prefer to bend the material themselves. This process involves heating the sheet until it becomes pliable, then shaping it into the desired shape. Once cooled, the plexiglass will retain its new shape.
This is a great way to create curved shapes and designs for your projects, without having to spend a lot of money on expensive shaping tools for plexiglass.
Bending plexiglass is a relatively simple process, but it requires careful attention to detail in order to create a professional-looking finished product.
Today, we’ll take a look at how to bend plexiglass using just a few simple tools and techniques.
Let’s get started!
What You'll Learn...
How to Identify a Good Piece of Plexiglass
When it comes to plexiglass, you can run a few tests to ensure you’re getting a good piece.
First, look at the material and ensure no scratches or blemishes.
Second, hold it up to the light and check for clarity – you should be able to see through the plexiglass clearly, without any distortion.
Finally, give it a tap with your hand or a hard object and listen for a clear, sharp sound – if it sounds dull or “off,” chances are the plexiglass is of lower quality.
By following these simple tips, you can be sure you’re getting a good piece of plexiglass that will work well for your projects.
What You’ll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Hairdryer or a heat gun
- Welding gloves or oven mitts
- Protective eye gear
- 1/8-inch thick scrap wood
- 1/8th-inch plexiglass or acrylic sheet
Basic Steps for Bending Plexiglass
When bending plexiglass, it is important to take care in order to avoid damaging the material. Here are the basic steps:
1. Place the plexiglass on a flat surface.
2. Support the plexiglass with your hands on either side of the area you will be bending.
3. Heating the material will make it more pliable and easier to work with. Use the hair dryer or heat gun on a low setting to gently heat the plexiglass. Be sure to use gloves when heating up and working with plexiglass.
4. Apply pressure evenly and gradually increase the amount of pressure you are applying until the plexiglass starts to bend. You can use a small piece of wood or metal to bend the plexiglass around the edge of the wood and help form the shape that you want.
5. Stop applying pressure when the plexiglass has reached the desired degree of flexibility.
6. Carefully remove the plexiglass from the surface and support it until it sets in its new shape.
How to Bend Plexiglass with a Hair Dryer
Although plexiglass is strong and durable, plexiglass can be bent using heat. This can be done using a simple household hair dryer and following the steps below:
- Set the hair dryer to the highest setting and hold it about six inches away from the plexiglass.
- Slowly move the hair dryer back and forth across the surface of the plexiglass until you see it start to warp.
- Once the plexiglass is pliable, carefully mold it into your desired shape.
- Allow the plexiglass to cool for several minutes before handling it.
How to Bend Plexiglass with a Heat Gun
The process of bending plexiglass with a heat gun is very similar to bending plexiglass with a hair dryer. It’s fairly simple, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
- First, make sure that the plexiglass is at room temperature before attempting to bend it. If the plexiglass is too cold, it will be difficult to bend.
- It is important to protect the surface on which the plexiglass will be placed. A sheet of plywood or cardboard will work well.
- Ensure that the heat gun is set to the lowest setting possible. Too much heat can cause the plexiglass to warp or crack.
- Finally, work slowly and evenly, moving the heat gun back and forth across the surface of the plexiglass.
Important Tip: Be sure to put on hand protection before handing heated plexiglass. Oven mitts or welding gloves work well for this purpose.
What Temperature Does Plexiglass Need to be Bent?
Plexiglass needs to be heated to between 142-160ºC (its forming temperature) in order to be bent. Once it reaches this temperature, it can be quickly cooled in order to set the new shape.