Bending Acrylic Using Your Laser

Jim Puentes opened COOLaserCraft in 2008, providing his clients with marking, cutting, and fabrication services. Contact Jim at jptreeman@sbcglobal.net.

There are several advantages to using your laser to apply the heat necessary to bend acrylic. 

  • There is no warm-up time; the laser applies the heat as it fires.
  • It’s fast, usually less than half of a minute for each bend line.
  • There is no equipment cool-down time; nothing in your work area to burn you with an accident touch.
  • No extra table space is needed.
  • You don’t have to wear gloves; the surrounding material stays cool to the touch.
  • There is no extra equipment to buy.
  • You get a precise application of heat and can do shapes and broken lines.

Here are the basics. Remember that the goal is to heat the acrylic to the point where it will be soft enough to easily bend.

  • Take the beam out of focus. This widens the beam and spreads the energy over a larger surface.
  • Set power and speed so that the material is heated and not vaporized or ignited.
  • Set the rate of firing, or frequency, very low to avoid “frosting” clear material.
  • Set up the work piece to heat the inside surface of the bend line.
  • Use multiple passes to heat the material. Adjust the number of passes up or down to compensate for material thickness. 

—Jim Puentes, COOLaserCraft

Learn more about this process here. Alternatively, you could add an acrylic bender to your business.