I wanted to laser cut acrylic plastic, and then bend it into shapes.
So I mocked something up:
(The pink glow was my attempt to render a glow hot wire)
It’s extremely simple. It’s just a base and a channel along one edge with a nichrome wire (the wire used in e-cigarettes).
I actually built 5 of these, in different styles, methods and sizes.
And here’s a version built:
Here you can see how the wire is secured. It wraps around two bolts, and held in place with nuts. One end is connected to a spring because the wire shrinks as the wire gets hot.
I apply 12V across the wire, wait a minute for it to become hot, then place a piece of acrylic across the wire, wait a few seconds for it to become soft, then bend.
Out of the five I built, three of them used a second piece with a hinge, like below, and also used an actual metal channel. My thinking is that I would heat up the plastic, hold it in place, then bend it smoothly with the second piece. However I found that I never used the hinge – it was far easier to just bend against the table or bend it around a piece of wood etc
The main use was to bend the casing for my wire bender and mars rover, but these aren’t done yet.
So here’s a cat’s water bowl holder that I made, by bending acrylic around a 2×4 block. I laser cut a circle first to allow the water bowl to fit.
The real key to fast development is outsourcing the hard work: