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Old 10-17-2007, 08:29 PM
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How to bend lexan

I am building a replica of a antique gas pump and want to know how to roll a piece of lexan to make the tank

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Old 10-17-2007, 09:05 PM
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Thats funny, My grandfather was the chemist for GE and the head of research and developement of lexan. I think you may be out of luck with lexan, considering most of the lexan you find is laminated.
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Old 10-17-2007, 09:21 PM
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Lexan can be bent.
It needs to be warmed evenly to about 300-350 degrees, then bent over a form that is fairly smooth and the shape that you need. A pizza oven works well for larger peices. Too hot and the plastic blisters.

That's what the guy at Bell plastics who formed the General Electric brand Lexan windshield for the streamliner body we built told me. (Lexan is the trade name for the polycarbonate sheet that GE makes)

It can be bent in one plane with simple tools and male forms, compound curves require a vacuum table and female forms..

Do a google search for "bending lexan" and you will get some other ideas that will help you as well.

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Old 10-19-2007, 09:57 AM
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Quote:
I think you may be out of luck with lexan, considering most of the lexan you find is laminated.
Never knew that and I have used Lexan on and off for 26 years doing prototyping and toolmaking. I have even bent Lexan in a press brake before to a 90 degree angle with a fairly small radius. But the best way is to warm it. You can use a heat gun or a hairdryer. What thickness are you planning on bending and what radius in the corners? I am assuming it will be a fairly large radius. Take a board, using a router cut a radius a little smaller than what you want, clamp the Lexan between the radiused board and another board, start running the heatgun / dryer back and forth across where you want it to bend, and with some help start bending it down. If you use Plexiglass it is a different story. Plexi will HAVE to be heated as Plexi will crack. Lexan is tougher and will not crack as the Plexi will. Auto lenses in headlights and fog lights are Lexan and it takes quite a wallop to bust them.

Kevin
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Old 10-21-2007, 07:20 AM
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Price-
If you can use 1/8 inch material (polycarbonate), you can bend it around pretty much at will. Like the others said, heat will make it easier; but we have bent it around wood forms before, it a pretty tight radius.

Lexan is pretty easy to deal with, but with all its strength, it scratches rather easily.

I don't know what your facilities are, or you mechanical abilities; but a pure 'backyard' approach would be to take a blanket or moving pad and lay it on the work surface. Then get several strips of heavy material (like denim), and lay them long-ways on the blanket. Lay the piece of polycarb on top of the strips and just roll it up. Once you get it rolled to a certain point, you can tie it in place with the material strips. Then, you can make the radius of the roll more or less by loosening or tightening the strips. You may need a helper, and the lexan is springy, and will want to spring back to flat.

I have used this method on several past sign-related projects and it will work, but I wouldn't try it with any thicker material than 1/8 inch. If this is to be strictly an appearance thing, you may even consider going to thinner material. Many sign supply houses have polycarb in .100 or even .080. Much easier to deal with.
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Old 10-21-2007, 07:33 AM
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Lexan can be purchased in large diameter cylinder shape in long lengths. I used that shape in 8" diameter with about 1/4" wall thickness for well pump test stands back in the mid 70's. I am not sure where the company I worked for purchased the material. Try McMaster-Carr.
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Old 10-22-2007, 05:35 AM
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I know you can get Polycarbonate tube in diameters at least up to 12 inches with a 1/8" thick wall. Try someplace like http://www.k-mac-plastics.net or do a google search.
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Old 10-25-2007, 10:25 AM
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How to bend lexan

i use a heating pad for your back
put it under it and a piece of blanket ,then the lex-an then more blankets or one blanket and a piece of stiro foam insulation .
don't rush it ,it will bend to any shape after about two hours on the pad
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Old 10-28-2007, 09:15 AM
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Lexan is not normally laminated. I worked to develop uses when it was first available. An even application of low heat is the way to go. some tricks to play, if you gently tap a nail it will penetrate the Lexan, if you hammer the nail the nail will bend. some scratches can be polished out by lightly flaming across the scratch with a propane torch. a straight bend can be made using a heat tape wire pulled across the place you want to bend. Depending on the thickness lexan will stop bullets, we used to shoot 30/30s at 1/4 inch sheets.
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Old 10-28-2007, 11:52 AM
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Standard everyday LEXAN by GE** is not laminated. You will find laminated LEXAN being used for high impact areas such as armored car windows and other places that require a multilayered potentially high impact resistance - such as at the CN tower in Toronto where you stand on a 3-4 foot wide piece and look at the ground over a thousand feet below(gulp) or airplane winshields that need to withstand a 20 pound goose hitting it at 500 MPH.

**(I'm retired from GE)

Dave
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Old 10-31-2007, 12:00 PM
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I've used what was called a "line bender" that was specifically for bending lexan plexi etc. It was basically a 1/2" steel rod that had a transformer and nice controls to set the heat, as well a table surface about 1/4" above and on either side of the rod. I figure a backyard approach would be to clamp a bar to the bench, heat it up with a torch, hold the sheet about a 1/4" from the bar to heat along the line you want to bend and your in business. Hell you could even put two pieces of 1" square tubing on either side of the bar and have a spot to set the sheet down while the heat from the rod is radiating to the sheet. If i remember correctly the bar really didn't get that hot, you would just set the lexan over the bar long enough to let the heat transfer nice and even. hope this helps
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