How to Bend Acrylic into Furniture

Lovers of modern furniture and home decoration will be familiar with the increasingly-popular acrylic furniture, both for the home and the garden.

Acrylic, which is also known as Perspex and plexiglass, is a transparent plastic that is often used as an alternative to glass. This is because it is 17 times stronger, and therefore a much more durable and user-friendly alternative.

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The transparent quality of acrylic also makes it an attractive option, as it creates a modern look, but can blend in well with other styles of home. Acrylic furniture is available in clear, transparent form, and in coloured and translucent variants. This means the type and colours of the furniture available in this range is very versatile.

Buying acrylic furniture from designers can be expensive, however, owning this contemporary type of furniture needn’t be. In fact, it’s something you can do yourself — with the right equipment and know-how, you can do it yourself with acrylic sheets.

The Plastic People is a company that specialises in providing plastics for all types of purposes. With over 40 years of experience, they are well-placed to advise on how to bend acrylic to make this furniture yourself. Why not give it a go and see what you can create?

What you’ll need

•    A design of what you would like to create. Either find one online, or create a simple one yourself. Be sure of the dimensions that are required, and keep it simple to start.
•    Sheets of acrylic, cut to the size you need.
•    Clamps to hold the acrylic in place.
•    Strip heater or heat gun.
•    Heat protection gloves.
•    Circular saw.
•    Tape measure.
•    A straight edge or wooden plank.

How to bend Acrylic into Furniture

1.  As your heat source and plastic will need to combine together effectively, test out how the heat source works on your acrylic with a spare test piece, if you have one available. It will help you to estimate how long you will need to apply your heating device for.

2.  Prepare the acrylic sheet you want to bend. You will need to remove the acrylic’s plastic covering before you begin work.

3.  Using your design as a guide, mark on where you want your bends to be. The next steps you follow will depend on how much of a bend you want; whether you want a sharp edge or soft bend.

4.  For a softer bend, you will simply need to bend the acrylic when it’s heated. If you want a sharper edge, you will need to prepare the acrylic further.

5.  For a sharp edge, you must saw a V-shaped groove along the outside edge of the line to be bent, before you apply any heat. Lightly score a cut along the line to be sawed as a guide using a straightedge, so that it is easier to work with the saw.

6.  Using your strip heater or heat gun, turn to the optimum temperature needed to bend acrylic at a thickness.

7.  Place the acrylic sheet over the strip heater, or apply your heat gun to the acrylic – both directly on the line you are wanting to bend.

8.  Make sure you’ve got your timings correct, and keep the heat in place on the acrylic.

9.  After the optimum time, remove the heat source. If you want a gentle right angled curve, try bending the acrylic over the wooden plank. If you want a sharper edge, bend it with the cut edge on the outside.

10.  When your angle is achieved, hold the acrylic in place and allow it to cool.

11.  Repeat on all the angles and bends of your chosen design.

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