Do you often work with acrylic rods? If the answer is yes, knowing how to bend acrylic rods is a skill that you will frequently use in your projects. Here, we will take you through the various acrylic rod bending techniques, the steps to use and bending equipment, as well as useful tips when it comes to shaping acrylic rods.
Can you Bend Acrylic Rod?
You can, using heat. Acrylic is a thermoplastic material. That means you can heat it to a pliable state and not ruin it or change its properties. That being said, overheating acrylic can cause it to get damaged. So you need to do it correctly, especially when it to comes to the rods that you intend to use in your projects.
There are many instances that may require you to bend acrylic rods. These include when using the rods to make furniture, for lights, on signs, and other crafts. Below, we show you the different techniques you can employ when bending acrylic rod, as well as the dos and don’ts.
How to Bend Acrylic Rod
Bending acrylic rods should not be difficult if you know how to do it the proper way, or the right tools to use. With that in mind, here’s how to bend acrylic rods using the most common method, which by heating it to a pliable state. The tools to heat it include a heat gun, strip heater, and oven.
How to Bend Acrylic rod With a Heat Gun
A heat gun is an electrical, handheld tool that you can use to heat things. It essentially works by blowing hot air. That means you can use it to bend your acyclic rods. However, the bending acrylic rods with a heat gun must be done properly, or the heat will cause the acrylic to crack or even break.
Bending acrylic with a heat gun involves directing the hot stream of air at the part of the rod that you wish to bend, all the while ensuring that the heating is uniform. The heat then softens that part, allowing you to bend it and shape the rod as intended.
How to Bend Acrylic Rod with Strip Heater
As its name implies, this is a type of heater that uses a narrow, electrically-heated strip. When using it to bend acrylic rods, all you need to do is wrap it around the entire length of the rod, then turn it on and set its heating to the required temperature.
The heat it generates will then soften the rod, after which you get to shape it as intended. This is one of the safest acrylic rod bending tools. That’s because it doesn’t heat the material directly and will not easily cause it to crack.
How to Bend Acrylic in an Oven
You can also use an oven to bend acrylic rod. This process requires you to place the rod on a tray and put in an oven. Then, heat it at 200°F to 225°F. The heat will cause the rod to soften, after which you can bend it to the required shape.
When using an oven to soften and bend acrylic rods, it’s advised to take utmost care so you do not ruin the rods. Know the right temperatures to use, as well as the right type of oven.
How to Bend Acrylic Rod: Steps
Have your heater and measuring or marking tools (ruler and marker) ready. In addition to the heat source and marking tools, you’ll need safety wear when bending acrylic rods. These include safety glasses, work gloves, and nose mask. A jig is also recommended to help you shape the rods.
Bending with Heat Gun
- Mark the area or areas where you’ll bend the rod
- Hold the rod a short distance away to avoid cracking it with excessive heat
- Heat the rod where you intend to bend it
- Keep the heat gun or the rod moving to ensure uniform heating
- This will also prevent the rod from overheating
- Once softened, bend the rod at the marked points using a jig or your hands
- Allow the rod to cool in the bent position
Bending with Strip Heater
- Mark the rod as appropriate
- Unwind the heating strip and wrap it around the rod, from the bottom upward
- Plug in the heater and set it to the required temperature, which is typically about 105°C or 220°F
- Wait until the rod has softened then bend it as intended. Again, you can use your hands or a jig
- Wait until the rod cools and solidifies into the new form
Bending Acrylic Rod in an Oven
- Mark your acrylic rod as directed before
- Place the rod on a metal tray and put it in a convection oven
- Set the oven Temperature to around 220°F or 105°C
- Heat the rod for about 10 minutes, rotating it after every two minutes to ensure it heats evenly
- Wait until the rod is softened and floppy, then bend it as required
- Hold it in the new form until it solidifies
How to Bend Acrylic rod: Tips
Knowing how to bend acrylic rods to a specified shape requires patience and great care. So here, we take you through the rules that apply to the process, and that are important for your safety and the success of your project.
1. Heating acrylic can cause it to burn or vaporize to produce harmful fumes. Therefore, always ensure that your work area is adequately ventilated and that you’re wearing safety gear.
2. Heating your acrylic rods too quickly can cause them to crack. To avoid that, heat them gradually. Ensure, too, that you’re heating the material uniformly.
3. For best results when bending acrylic, hold the rod that you’ve just bent in the same position until it cools completely. This ensures it retains its new shape.
4. A jig is useful when it comes to bending acrylic rods. Consider using it if unsure of your skills.
5. Your safety is paramount. Therefore, always cover your hands with gloves when using heat and touching hot acrylic, your eyes with safety glasses, and your nose with a nose mask.
Knowing how to bend acrylic rods the right way is an essential part of ensuring your acrylic projects end up well. That’s because using the wrong steps (or tools) is often the reason for damaged rods. Done correctly, the process to bend acrylic rods should not ruin your materials, or even prove to be difficult.