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UK educational supply center centre Mindsets online sells variously-sized 3mm thick sample sheets of Eastman’s Spectar copolyester at not-completely-outlandish prices. Spectar supposedly looks and handles much like acrylic, but with the surprising property that it can be cold-formed without breaking or whitening, and exhibits a memory effect, holding a cold bend until reheated. Chemically, Spectar is similar to the PETE used to make disposable drink bottles, and is commonly abbreviated as PETG. Mindsets is the only online vendor I’ve found, so far, selling small samples of Spectar to consumers.

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.


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Comments

  1. nessie says:

    You can cold-bend polycarbonate using sheet-metal tools as well, and it doesn’t whiten or discolor. Thick sheets are really tough to bend though, but you can get really nice corners if you’re careful.

    1. This is absolutely not true.  You must heat the polycarbonate before bending.  It is brittle and will crack if bent cold.  Don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself!   I work with the stuff daily and it would make my life easier if this were true.

      1. I have made a number of projects from 1/4″ lexan by cold-bending it in a sheet metal bending break.  The secret is to flex th lexan a number of time (4 or 5) at ever increasing amounts till you get to the desired angle.

           ///   Frank   ///

      2. tony tadin says:

        I require sheet plastic low temp forming, .5 – 1mm thick.
        please advise.
        thank you,

    2. Tim Kemp says:

      Have you ever tried folding a CD?  Bob is right, polycarbonate will crack violently when bent.

    3. tony tadin says:

      I require thickness of .5 to 1mm for my application in sheet stock if possible.

  2. PETG is not hard to come by.  McMaster Carr has it: http://www.mcmaster.com/#standard-petg-sheets/=ebv98b
    I didn’t know it has so easy to cold form in thicker sections.  That’s good to know.  I’ve used it because it is thermoformable at low temperatures.  Throw it in boiling water and it’s spaghetti. 

  3. PETG is not hard to come by.  McMaster Carr has it: http://www.mcmaster.com/#standard-petg-sheets/=ebv98b
    I didn’t know it has so easy to cold form in thicker sections.  That’s good to know.  I’ve used it because it is thermoformable at low temperatures.  Throw it in boiling water and it’s spaghetti. 

  4. PETG is not hard to come by.  McMaster Carr has it: http://www.mcmaster.com/#standard-petg-sheets/=ebv98b
    I didn’t know it has so easy to cold form in thicker sections.  That’s good to know.  I’ve used it because it is thermoformable at low temperatures.  Throw it in boiling water and it’s spaghetti. 

  5. PETG is not hard to come by.  McMaster Carr has it: http://www.mcmaster.com/#standard-petg-sheets/=ebv98b
    I didn’t know it has so easy to cold form in thicker sections.  That’s good to know.  I’ve used it because it is thermoformable at low temperatures.  Throw it in boiling water and it’s spaghetti. 

  6. PETG is not hard to come by.  McMaster Carr has it: http://www.mcmaster.com/#standard-petg-sheets/=ebv98b
    I didn’t know it has so easy to cold form in thicker sections.  That’s good to know.  I’ve used it because it is thermoformable at low temperatures.  Throw it in boiling water and it’s spaghetti.