Everyone has seen a movie or show where a group of children accidentally throw a baseball through a glass window. If the window was made out of acrylic, the baseball probably would have bounced of the window. Acrylic is a type of plastic that can be molded in a number ways. Some methods require the use of elaborate equipment while others need only simple tools. Most people will encounter acrylic as shower doors, windows, bath enclosures or skylights. It is many times stronger than glass and can also insulate better. Although it has many advantages, acrylic is more expensive and can melt when exposed to open flame.
There are four main methods used to mold and manipulate acrylic. The first way is by strip heating. Strip heaters will soften an acrylic panel in a particular spot the heater is under. It will then be possible to bend the panel along the heated area. Cold heading, or cold forming doesn’t require the use of heat, but can only be used for sheets that are under ¼ inches thick. The radius of the curve must also be at least 180 times and no more than 300 times the thickness of the material. It takes a lot of force to bend acrylic, so a curved frame is often required to achieve bends.
Drape molding utilizes a fan-heated oven, because Since acrylic gives off fumes. The plastic is heated to 300 degrees before being draped over either a convex or concave mold. A felt blanket will often be placed over the mold to prevent the softened acrylic from sticking. It’s like spraying Pam over a cooking sheet. The last method of molding is resin molding. Acyclic is available to be purchased in liquid form. The liquid acyclic is then mixed in with a catalyst to cause the resin to cure. Premade molds or custom molds are available with use of a mold-making kit.