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Using plastic for repairing, prototyping, etc. has always been a mystery to me until recently. I found a few good sites that show some techniques in plastic welding, bending, and vacuum forming. These may sound like high-tech methods that need special tools, but a soldering iron, oven and vacuum cleaner are as high-tech as the tools get.

Plastic welding is my favorite because of the simplicity and cool DIY possibilities. Using a soldering iron and oven paper, trash bags or other sheet plastic can be melted together to make things like kites, sails, or even solar hot air balloons. Aleksi at Instructables gives a four steps on this trick.

To shape acrylic/plexiglas, a heating element from an old toaster oven is used with boards and tin foil to melt specific lines for making bends. Sheldog23 at Austin PC Mods built this melting tool and displays how to build it his modding site.

Vacuum forming uses #2 plastic like one-gallon milk jugs; it won't shrink or shrivel like other plastics when heated. The method uses an oven to heat the plastic and a vacuum to pull it into place with a vacuum former made from a coffee can or something similar. Sheekgeek at gives a good quickie on vacuum forming.


  • justin

    I would just like to say that burning plastic is VERY bad for you, so I can't give this the thumbs up.

  • Billy Robb

    I agree; fresh air should be included in my description of this. Most of this is lightly melting the plastics (which should be ventilated,) but the occasional burst of flame and smoke can occur from too much heat.

  • Donovan

    It really depends on the plastic if the fumes are dangerous or not. Some plastics are extremely toxic when burnt, others very inert to humans.

    I think it is up to the DIYer to A> do more research on any topic than read one DIY post and B> always take basic fabrication precautions.

    ANYTIME you burn or heat ANYTHING, you should have adequate ventilation and highest rating respirator you can find. That should be as common sense as don't cut your thumbs off with your power tools.

  • Tim

    Different plastics have different properties. Found some data sheets for anybody who's interested at

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