Plastic Heat Bending Services
One of the most common plastic fabrication techniques is heat bending. NGS Printing is proud to provide value added services like plastic heat bending solutions, along with many other plastic fabrication services to our clients.
What Is Heat Bending?
Heat bending is a manufacturing method used to bend a flat thermoplastic with the use of machines and heating to make the material temporarily more malleable than it is in its cool state.
There are many ways to bend plastic which can include convection ovens, radiant heating, but at NGS Printing, we offer hot-wire heat bending. You don’t have to completely melt plastic to make it malleable. Hot-wire heat bending or sometimes referred to as strip heating or line bending is a focused line of heat that allows us to flex and form only a specific portion of the plastic such as bending the plastic in half or a specific angle.
Since thermoplastics soften when heated and harden when cooled, they can be modified with heat and once cool, the plastic holds its basic form with the new shape. With focused heat, thick rigid plastic materials can be folded in half (180 degrees) or bent to other angles using special cooling fixtures. Thermoplastics like acrylic, polystyrene, expanded PVC, PETG, and polycarbonate are just some of the materials we hot-wire heat bend. With so many different types of plastic and thicknesses, the heat bending process will vary. What ties all these materials together is that all plastics can be shaped with heat and hold that shape once cooled.
How Does It Work?
The process of line bending starts with holding a hot wire or heating element near the surface to be bent. . When taut, the hot wire radiates focused heat in a straight line across the material. The wire creates a very focused heat making only that straight line malleable. Once the plastic has met the appropriate temperature, it is quickly removed and placed into a former or jig to cool.
Through the use of heat bending, a piece of plastic can be formed into simple shapes, limited to straight lines, and it will hold its shape once it has cooled down. Some machines offer multiple wires to heat multiple lines simultaneously to create more sophisticated shapes. It’s fair to say that this practice has many industrial and manufacturing applications, making it a very appealing prospect for companies that work with plastic because of the low cost, fast results with little equipment, and is a simple process. Heat bending is a commonly used fabrication method because it originates from extruded or cast flat sheets and doesn’t need expensive injection molds. Different plastics need to be heated to different temperatures for optional malleability. Heating the material too much can cause less focused lines, deformation, and melting of the plastic. Heating too little would make the plastic fragile, hard to work with, and can cause stress fractures.
After the plastic is heated, bent, and fabricated into its final form, it needs to be appropriately cooled to hold its shape, establish its firmness, and remain structurally sound. This cooling process is equally as important as particular plastics require special conditions to reach their optimal structure and retain their features. Custom jigs and formers are created to hold the bent plastic in the new shape until cooled.
Line bending for plastic fabrication
Line bending or hot-wire heat bending is one of the most cost effective plastic fabrication processes to add shape to flat plastics. Since the plastic itself originates from mass-produced extruded or cast flat sheets, then CNC cut to size, before being bent, the process completely avoids expensive molds. While the shapes are limited to simple bends, many applications are suitable for line bending.
Heat bending for printed graphics
Heat bending printed graphics is also a very common practice in the retail display industry. Rigid signage can be bent to be self-standing. Shelf talkers, aisle violators, header graphics and many other signage types can be heat bent to eliminate the need for additional hardware.
The Pros and Cons of Heat Bending
Heat bending is one of the most common practices for fabricating plastic, and it comes with many benefits.
Below, are some of the most notable advantages and disadvantages of the heat bending process for plastics to give you a better idea of how the process is used in industrial and commercial applications, as well as how it helps turn raw materials into various products.
- Heat bending is an affordable way to add shape to plastic.
- It causes minimal damage to the composition of the material.
- It’s both a cost and time effective process.
- This process requires minimal tooling.
- It’s fairly precise for ensuring uniformity.
- It works with most plastics.
- Bending is performed post printing, aiding in keeping printing costs low.
- Limited to simple bends and many complex multiple bend projects may not be possible.
- Some materials spring back making some shapes to form.
- Limited material thicknesses
The process of heat bending plastics has a lot of commercial and industrial applications. It’s by far the most efficient, affordable, and time-efficient way to bend plastic. The results you get through this manufacturing method are stable and repeatable, and without the need for molds or high setup costs.
NGS printing offers heat bending services for any purpose, from unprinted plastics but most notably for printed graphics. We use high-end machinery to work with thermoplastic materials, ensuring that you’re always getting the best product at the most affordable price. Contact us today and find out what we can do for you!