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Cool vid from our pals at TAP Plastics showing how to build a strip heater, which is commonly referred to as a “plastic bender,” but really doesn’t do any bending in and of itself: It’s just a long skinny heating element that makes it easy to soften a sheet of plastic along a straight line, so you can bend it with your hands to an arbitrary angle, and/or against a jig for more precise control of the bend. Misnomer aside, it’s still a very handy tool to have in your shop, and a load of fun to use, and fairly easy and inexpensive to DIY, to boot.

If you don’t want to shell out for a new heating element, they can be recovered from a junked space heater or (like this one from Instructables user xeijix) from an old toaster.

More:
Intern’s Corner – The Make: Labs plastic bender

Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


  • Anonymous

    That was a nicely informative (and quaint) video – thank you for posting it! 

    If TAP has anymore please be encouraged to list them.  thank you.

  • https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnl1fDfusItc1UPJeDlaUb77AQoD15u5Zc LDM

    Wow… I would use a multimeter to test that ground.  Use the resistance setting, testing the foil to ground prong on the extension cord resistance and ensure it is low.  I’d probably also think of using this only in a GFI outlet for extra safety.

    If I was using this long-term, I’d consider rewiring the heater plug & ground with a real 3-prong screw down plug instead of the 2 prong + shove ground wire method to ensure that everything had a good connection.

  • https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnl1fDfusItc1UPJeDlaUb77AQoD15u5Zc LDM

    Wow… I would use a multimeter to test that ground.  Use the resistance setting, testing the foil to ground prong on the extension cord resistance and ensure it is low.  I’d probably also think of using this only in a GFI outlet for extra safety.

    If I was using this long-term, I’d consider rewiring the heater plug & ground with a real 3-prong screw down plug instead of the 2 prong + shove ground wire method to ensure that everything had a good connection.

  • https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnl1fDfusItc1UPJeDlaUb77AQoD15u5Zc LDM

    Wow… I would use a multimeter to test that ground.  Use the resistance setting, testing the foil to ground prong on the extension cord resistance and ensure it is low.  I’d probably also think of using this only in a GFI outlet for extra safety.

    If I was using this long-term, I’d consider rewiring the heater plug & ground with a real 3-prong screw down plug instead of the 2 prong + shove ground wire method to ensure that everything had a good connection.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mrsuperpants Mike Pantrey

    I built something similar a few years back using a discarded bathroom 1kw heater. I have put a picture up and a bit of a description on my flickr page.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsuperpants/6150337447/in/photostream

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