I get asked all the time “How did you bend the Plex for your UTMod?”. After trying to explain it to people and describe what a heating element was, I finally decided to write this handy How-to.
This guide will show you how to do a basic bend with acrylic using a heating element. In this example I am making a simple Motherboard tray. Just 4 easy 90 degree bends. Nothing insane like the UTMod, but once you get the feel for it you can bend plex into any crazy shape you would like.
The first thing you need to bend acrylic is an acrylic bender. You can buy one for 200 dollars or you can build one. I suggest building one since it is a lot cheaper. I built mine using a heating element strapped to a board. All of which I purchased at a local supplier.
The element sits between two boards that are attached to a main board with a gap between. The element sits about 1/4″ down from the top surface of these boards. This way you can heat the plastic without melting it too the element. I covered the boards in tin foil to help protect them from the heat and also to reflect the heat more toward the acrylic.
Here are links to Two different kinds of Plastic Benders. Here is a fancy one that will work better but cost too much. This Heat Strip is the one I used. It comes with all the directions you would need to build the wooden base.
What I am bending here is a MB stand for my Martini Mod. I used an old MB tray from another computer and I want it back to use. I also wanted to clean up the wires in the Martini. It has been suggested that they were a mess and I have to agree.
Here I have selected a 1/8″ thick piece of acrylic. I made sure it was cut to the length of my MB and extra wide for the folding I would be doing. I gave it 3″ on each side. I then took off the paper protection and drew on the acrylic where I was first going to bend with a wax pencil. I wanted to bend at a right angle so I also got a section of aluminum angle from the shop to use as my angle. You should also drill any holes you want to have at this time. It will be very difficult to do so after the piece has been bent. I did not do this and had to actually do this same project twice.
Below you see me put the piece on the bender. To get a straight bend you want to line up your wax line to the center of the element. Within a few minutes the acrylic should get soft and bendable. You then want to take it off and set it immediately into your mold or position you want it to set in. It takes only a few minutes for it to cool and become hard again. If you don’t get it where you want it quickly you are basically stuck with it that way.