Bending Corian

      How to bend Corian to create small cylindrical shapes. June 24, 2001

How do I bend pieces of 1/2 Corian to make small cylindrical shapes?

Forum Responses
You will have to heat it. I believe the magic number is 350F. I did this once, putting small pieces in the oven. It bends pretty easy once it's hot.

The temperature you are going for is 275-325, depending on thickness. The thicker the piece, the hotter and longer you must leave it in the oven. Calibrate your oven first with a thermometer, not to exceed 325--the solid surface will blister at higher temperatures and crack at lower temperatures.

The heating info above is okay, but you can't beat trial and error. You can feel when the solid surface is at the correct bending temperature. You may get some whitening when you bend a tight radius, especially in dark colors. Experiment on some scrap so you don't ruin a big piece.

I made my coffee cup from 1/4 midnight Corian. The numbers are 325 to 350 degrees. PVC pipe makes a good form. You can cool it in water. The sizing can be tough to figure, as the inside will compress more than the outside stretches. I found that the best way is to make the piece too long. Then take the cool wrapped cylinder and cut the excess on the table saw. Cut right through the overlap. Then clamp the 1/8" kerf together. Glue with wicking Cyanoacrylate. Since it is added after clamping and not before, it makes aligning easier. In 20 minutes you can run on a lathe to perfect the shape, if you wish.

The heating temperatures mentioned above are accurate at 275-325 degrees. Experimentation is absolutely necessary. There are so many nuances to thermoforming. For instance, if I want to heat a thick edge to wrap a 24" radius outside corner, I will stick a strip in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 4 minutes. If that radius is 6", I will leave it in the oven for about 7 minutes. I need more flexibility for the tighter radius. If I were bending a 12" diameter, 8' tall fluted column, the oven would be set to 300 degrees and the piece would remain in there for nearly an hour. Heating the material slower ensures that the entire piece reaches the required bending temperature.

Build a quality form--male and female halves will allow the material to cool evenly on both sides. If one side cools faster than the other, the piece will warp. Conversely, with the thick edge, I will use no form. Just clamp it to the countertop and trim it after it cools. The major difference is the stakes are much higher if I mess up the column. I can afford to speed the process on the thick edge.

A few technical notes on thermoforming:

-- Heat between 275-325 degrees
-- Heat entire piece evenly
-- Minimum inside radius is 3" for 1/2" material and 1" for 1/4" material
-- Heat time is 20-40 min. at 325 degrees for 1/4" material
-- Heat time is 30-50 min. at 325 degrees for 1/2" material
-- Cool heated Corian(r) in male/female form.

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