• Welcome to our site! Electro Tech is an online community (with over 170,000 members) who enjoy talking about and building electronic circuits, projects and gadgets. To participate you need to register. Registration is free. Click here to register now.

The machine that heats plastic so you can bend it

Not open for further replies.


New Member
When i was 13 we used to make lots of things in our Technology classes that used 3mm PVC plastic. There was a machine that consisted of a two foot long horizontal wire that got really hot when the machine was turned on... then by putting the plastic over this line of wire, the plastic would soften and you'd be able to bend it quite accurately.

a) Does anyone know what this machine is called?

b) Since I'm trying to make one, could anyone suggest a type of wire I could use? I've used nichrome for another project before and it gets hot, but it also just breaks after a minute or two of current being passed through it. I'd need something a lot more durable. Any ideas?

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
Nichrome is fine - if it's breaking you're heating it to hot - use a lower voltage.

Easiest source is an electric fire element, if you can get then the 'refill' wires for ilica tube heaters is simplest.


Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Another good source of Nichrome is wire wound resistors. I can't remember what value I used but if you get the right one you can smash the porcelain off of it and the leads act as ready made terminators. I use my lab supply in current limit mode to drive it and I get very good control over the temperature.



Depending on where you live, you could find an electric element that fit your needs. To bend nicely a sheet of plastic without burning it, you need to apply a gentle heat on a concentrated area of the sheet until soften. Red hot element is not good.

The picture show a machine that I made for that purpose. I bought an industrial element of 330 watts, 220 volts but I run it at 120 volts. It gives a nice gentle heat without any control and it work well for different kinds of plastic.

Otherwise, again depending where you live, "spring" elements should be easy to find.



Last edited:


Well-Known Member
You can buy heating wire from a refrigeration supplier. We use resistance wire of all different resistances per meter for heated doors in fridges.
You can also use a heating lamp from an old photocopier and put it on a lower voltage. These lamps fit down the centre of a the heater roller. There are lots of free sources.
Not open for further replies.

Latest threads

EE World Online Articles