Guy Fraser edited this page May 8, 2017 · 3 revisions

C R Clarke & Co. Model CR500 Mk 3

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Nickname Make Model Where Manual Issue Tracker Status
? C R Clarke & Co. Model CR500 Mk 3 [[Workshop Rooms]] PDF Tool: Strip Heater


The strip heater (sometimes called a "line bender") allows sheets of thermoplastic, e.g. acrylic (up to 20mm thick), to be manually bent or "folded" along a straight line.

If you want to create more complex shapes, consider using the heat press or vacuum former. For complex shapes, or where higher consistency is required, it's probably better to CNC mill or 3D print. For high volume consistent replication, consider resin or injection moulding.

How it works

You put a sheet of thermoplastic on to the top rails on the strip heater. Then you turn it on and set desired heat. It heats the plastic until it becomes malleable and pliable, allowing you to bend or fold it to the desired shape.





Using the machine

To use this machine, you'll need to:

  • Follow safety precautions
  • Obtain material
  • Prepare material (optional)
  • Heat and bend material

Let's get started...

Safety precautions

The strip heater gets very hot during operation and takes a while to cool down afterwards. Likewise, heated material will also be hot and take a while to cool.

Class Orange Equipment

Step 1: Obtain material


Step 2: Prepare material (optional)

Depending on material and your requirements, etching/milling a groove, or scoring it (similar to working with cardboard), could improve bending or folding.

  • Which method to use?
    • Scoring retains maximum bend/fold strength and smoothness, but might not be possible on tougher plastics
    • Etching reduces bend/fold strength, causes sharper edges (particularly when folding), but is probably better on tougher plastics
  • The groove/score should be on the top surface, with the material folding downwards
  • This reduces surface tension on the top surface allowing the bottom surface to bend more evenly
  • It also prevents the top surface from cracking or splitting when shaping

Some experimentation will be required to get the right results - please let us know or edit this page with details.

Step 3: Heat and bend material

We still need to do some more experimentation with settings, but:

  • The sheet to be bent goes on top of the support rods
  • Turn on the machine via the switch on the front
  • Use the dial to set desired heat
    • Use lower heat settings with longer times (up to 10 minutes) for thicker sheets, to avoid blistering
    • Please let us know or edit this page if you know more
  • Once finished, turn off the machine
  • Remember the machine and material will still be hot for a while!

Hints & Tips

  • You might get quicker results by heating both sides of the sheet

Minimising waste

  • Avoid: To avoid wasting large sheets of material on failed attempts, test with smaller scraps of similar material first to see how it reacts to strip heating.
  • Reduce: If possible, trim unwanted portions of material first before heating - they might be useful for something else.
  • Reuse: ?
  • Upcycle: ?
  • Recycle: Depending on material, you might be able to recycle it in the bins near the kitchen.
  • Disposal: For any remaining waste, please put it in the workshop bin.
  • General: Waste, recycling and cleaning up


If the advice below doesn't solve the problem, please create a new issue to let us know.

My plastic is blistering

Reduce heat and increase time to compensate.


  • If the machine is broken or needs maintenance, create an issue in the issue tracker (link in Troubleshooting above)
    • Label the issue: Tool: Strip Heater as applicable
    • If broken, add Broken label (this triggers various systems to flag the machine unavailable)
    • If maintenance required, add Maintenance label (the machine is working, but needs TLC)
    • If parts or consumables need purchasing, add Shopping label
  • where spare parts / consumables are stored?
  • where to buy spare parts?
  • where to buy consumables?

See also

  • Tool: Heat Press
  • Tool: Vac-Former (Victor)
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