How to Bend a Polycarbonate Sheet

By C.L. Rease

Since polycarbonate is a thermoplastic, heat is required to form, bend or mold a polycarbonate sheet. Open flame or unventilated ovens create a safety hazard, as toxic fumes are released from the plastic if it is heated beyond its melting point of 300 degrees F, according to Dynalab Corporation. To heat the polycarbonate sheet evenly, you need to use a device designed for heating plastic. A heat strip uses an electric current to create heat. Since you are able to control the temperature of the heat strip, there is little chance of overheating the polycarbonate sheet.

Set the heat strip on top of the worktable.

Measure the height of the heat strip with the tape measure.

Stack the two-inch pieces of 1/2-inch plywood on both side of the heat strip until the top of the wood is even to or slightly above the top surface of the heat strip.

Plug in the heat strip and set the temperature of the heat strip to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the heat strip to reach the set temperature before continuing.

Remove the protective coating from both sides of the polycarbonate sheet--if the sheet has a paper protective coating, or if you are bending the sheet in a U shape.

Mark the location of the bend on each edge of the polycarbonate sheet with the permanent marker and put on your leather work gloves.

Place the polycarbonate sheet on top of the heat strip. The bend location marks you placed on the edges of the sheet need to be aligned with the center of the heat strip.

Hold one side of the polycarbonate sheet with one gloved hand and slightly lift the other side of the sheet with your other gloved hand to test the softness of the plastic. If the polycarbonate sheet does not lift easily, leave the plastic on the heat strip.

Remove the polycarbonate sheet from the heat strip when the plastic bends easily. Immediately bend and hold the polycarbonate sheet to bend the polycarbonate sheet.