Heat Bending Plastic

The term Heat Bending Plastic can refer to many things when it comes to Plastics.  At Plasti-Fab Inc. we Heat Bend and Form plastic sheets rods and tubes into a wide variety of shapes and sizes using all of the heating methods available today.  Being able to use the correct method of heating allows Plasti-Fab to meet our client’s requirements in the most efficient and cost effective manner.

One of the simplest and most popular methods to bend plastic parts is Strip Heating.  This is a process where you can bend straight line bends buy only getting the piece hot along the exact line where you want the bend.  Once the sheet is hot it becomes very flexible and you can bend the part along the heat line to any angle and when it cools it will retain its new shape.  You can bend 1 straight line or many straight lines all at 1 time to create a finished part.  Normally these bend lines will be parallel to one another but with custom set ups non-parallel line bends can also be done at 1 time.  Strip Heat Bending plastic is used to produce everything from Table Top Sign Holders and Displays to Machine Guards and ATV Windshields. Doing multiply bends at the same time helps with efficiency and overall part cost.  Plasti-Fab regularly bends 4 to 7 straight line Strip Heat bends at one time.

Drape Forming is another method used to bend plastic panels.  This method requires that you bring the entire part up to forming temperature.  Once the panel is ready you must move the hot and very flexible sheet onto a form or mold where it can take its new shape and cool until it is firm.  Drape forming works well on large curves such as the front panels to Pastry Cases, Trade Show Exhibits and Tanning Bed Lenses.   Drape Forming can’t be used to produce compound curves.

Vacuum Forming also requires the entire piece to be heated but differs from Drape Forming because it requires the additional force of the vacuum to pull the plastic onto a forming tools shape and hold it there until cool.  This extra force allows the plastic to take very complex and detailed shapes including compound curves and angles. Vacuum Forming is widely used in the Automotive, Aircraft and Marine industries to produce Seat Backs, Door Panels and Dash Boards.  A Vacuum Formed part can help eliminate multiply pieces that must be bonded together in a costly time consuming process to make a finished part by using 1 piece and sucking it into a finished part in one step.  This 1 piece will also look more like a commercial retail part because it will have fewer if any seams and because it can have a more ergonomic feel with rounded corners and details similar to an injection molded part.

Blow Molding is sometimes thought of as only for producing large quantities of bottles and containers but it can also be used to produce Skylights, Light Lenses and Domes.  One of the advantages of Blow Forming is that many times the heated panel can be blown into a shape such as a Skylight without the part touching a forming tool.  This eliminates unsightly tool marks and distortion known as Mark Off and allows the finished part to be clear and defect free.

Plasti-Fab Inc. performs all of these different Heat Bending plastic processes in house with tools designed and produced by our team in order to offer the best possible solution to meet each of our client’s most demanding requirements.

Plastic Heat Bending?

Heat bending is a plastic fabrication technique used in most plastic projects we do.