Heat Forming Polycarbonate Lips

Discussion in 'Tackle Making' started by hazmail, Feb 15, 2008.

  1. I formed my first lips between 2 spoons with a paper clamp on the handles to apply the pressure. There is no need to get as exotic as this press I have made.

    1. Get a small can, I used a SMALL discarded, chopped tomato can, something you can heat cooking oil on the stove and is narrow and tall. Put about 2" of cooking oil in it, I used olive oil (I have a cholesterol problem), but any cooking oil should do. Place the oil on a very low heat gas or electric burner and SLOWLY heat for a few minutes to get it around 170 C to 180 C (350-360 F). Tip- Hang a piece of Polycarbonate in the oil and periodically move it in the oil- when @ correct temp the Poly will start to bend easily, now lower the heat a bit so oil does not overheat, test every so often to make sure the temp is O.K. Don’t overheat the oil or it will blister or spall the poly.

    2. The press formers, or whatever you use, must be close to the same shape, the lips I use are about 3/4"wide, 1 ¼” long 1/16” thick, and you will have to make the former plates to accept your required size.

    3. Stand the former in the hot oil, making sure all the former and poly are immersed in the oil, leave for about 10-15 sec, you will see the top former begin to close on to the lower bending the poly under the pressure applied by the paper clamp, quickly remove.

    4. Place the former on a damp wash cloth and wrap the cloth over the top, then press the plates together (a spoon is handy). Hold in position for about 5 sec's so the damp cloth can cool things a bit, lift the paper clamp, separate the formers and flick the new lip into a glass of water/detergent mix to cool and clean, then do another one.

    Sometimes the poly is formed so well it sticks to the formers (suction) so you may need to slide it off the die into the water, be careful as the poly is still hot and you may push it out of shape.
    This sounds pretty laborious but once you get the oil to the right temp, you could probably do 20 in 10 mins. You may see one lip in the photo is a bit cloudy looking, this one was placed in the oil when the temp was too low and bought up to temp and it did not form properly. Allow the oil to get up to temp before you place the poly and former into it and they will come out crystal clear as in photos. These lips have not been sanded etc, they are standard ‘Moores’ 1/16 “ lips, I have tried it with 1/8” pre cut lips, and it forms just as easily (see photo). Beware of over heating the oil as it will make the Poly craze and crack and you may see small air bubbles in it- this is caused by overheating which allows the moisture in the Poly to expand. Also be aware of the usual HAZARD of water, hot oil and flame. Make sure the press is dry before immersing again in the hot oil.
    Also see Poly properties etc- http://www.sheffieldplastics.com/fam_mak_poly.cfm

    Here is a small press which can be used to compound form Polycarbonate (Lexan)

    Have fun >Pete
  2. See why I say Pete is the master of bending polycarbonate?:D

    Pete the die/jig you made is pure genius. I've used hot water before, but I'm going to have to try fabricating a jig and using the hot oil like you do.

    I'd love to have a compound curved lip for my Stubbydudes.

    Great post and great tutorial, Pete.

  3. I have more pics here, but was not sure how the text in the pictures would come up, as I had to reduce the pics considerably. I will try and get them up today (last night there). pete
  4. Awesome information! Thanks for sharing.
  5. That is sweet. Great info. Thanks.
  6. Some more pictures- these are of the original press with text boxes and a bit more detail. The only difference to my newer version is the new one presses flat rear ends on the lip instead of round. I have used brass tube, split down the center, then flattened to the desired curve. If you want to change the lip angle, just bend the Male/Female formers to the desired angleThe latest version is pictured in the last pic, it's a bit weatherbeaten but it has done quite a few lips. the rest is just bits of aluminum and wood found in the shed. If I was doing another one I would braze the parts together, instead of soldering, it can melt if the oil is overheated. Have fun with it. pete
  7. fugarwi7

    fugarwi7 Lumberjack

    Pete, That is slick:cool: ...your experience is on full display with this gadget...outside the box? I don't think so...Off the hook? Definitely!!! Thanks for sharing...I think..:confused: ..My brain is on overload now...I am taking a mental inventory of all of the parts, pieces and materials I have lying aroung that could be used for this process.

    And I may be even more impressed with the notes inserted onto your pictures:p : :)
  8. Forgot to add pic of finished lips (flat back version). Pete
  9. Awesome Pete, I'll take about 50 please....lol

  10. Maypo

    Maypo Member


    I have been woring on something similar to this for a while, but I was thinking about modifying a long handled pair of channel-loc pliers and brazing the male mandrel to one jaw and female on the other. If I do that, can I immediately pull the part from the oil and cool in a bucket of water, rather than the method you described with the towel?

  11. Maypo- You sound like a blacksmith with that description - Seriously, I am thinking all the steel and brass is going to pull all the heat out of the oil, maybe something with wooden handles would be better. This is why I made the rear end of wood as it gets pretty hot after you do a couple (about 360F). The only reason I use a damp cloth is to stop oil burns on the hands etc. Cooling the poly is not critical as long as you don't bump it and push it out of shape - I just flick them off into a glass of detergent and water, with a spoon handle or a set of tweezers are handy. Just be careful as the poly goes soft as butter when at the right temperature.
    I have also been working on 'Version 4' of this, like your idea, if it works, will be much more simpler to build. pete