Cutting & Bending acrylate

A small guide to cutting and bending acrylate plates into virtually any shape!
And also where to get it close by.


Acrylate - Acrylate plates

First of all this is where to get your Acrylic or where you can order pré laser-cutted Plexiglas

For our project at Eurosonic/Noorderslag we experimented with creating shapes made of acrylate plates. As we discovered this material is easily shapeable, simply by heating it with a heat blower (for stripping off paint). In this small guide I will try to explain how this can be repeated for any purpose.

Firstly, the correct shape needs to be created from the raw acrylate. By far the best way to do this is to laser cut the plates. A laser cutter can be found in the Fablab in Amsterdam (Roetersstraat 144, 1018WE, Amsterdam), and a time slot for using it can be reserved on their website:

The file format needed to cut acrylate plate in the desired shape is normally .vwx, which is an extension used in Vectorworks. This software has the correct presets available to run the laser cutter in the correct way. If you don't normally use Vectorworks (which is common), Adobe Illustrator can be used (besides other software). Simply export your work as a .dwg file, which can be imported in Vectorworks later.

Remember that very exact shapes can be created this way, so don't be afraid to be creative.

After the material has been cut, it can be bended in the desired shape. Simply cover the whole plate, except the area that you want to bend. For 4 mm thick acrylate, a bend area of about 1 cm wide is sufficient. This thickness also gives a nice rigidity, but keep any details in the cutting intact.
Heat the material for about 120 - 150 seconds and bend it preferably with a mould.
After 2 minutes the shape will be set to this shape.