Adam Savage's Favorite Tools: Plastic Forming Strip Heater!

Publicerades den 20 apr 2021
Today's tool tip is all about using heat in different ways to form sheet material, whether it's with a blow dryer, dedicated heat gun, or a specialized tool like a plastic forming strip heater. As employed in his recent build of his Iron Man Mark 1 costume, an industrial plastic strip heater can bend sheets of acrylic quickly and evenly, creating convincing parts that double as bent metal. Adam demonstrates how this heater works on one of his favorite materials: foam PVC!
Plastic Forming Strip Heater:
Conair Pro Yellow Bird:
Milwaukee corded heat gun:
Foam PVC sheet:
Shot by Adam Savage
Music by Jinglepunks
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Thanks for watching!
#AdamSavage #FavoriteTools


  • Plastic Forming Strip Heater: Conair Pro Yellow Bird: Milwaukee corded heat gun: Foam PVC sheet:

    • @Dakari Zander cool

    • @Ferrox Glideh sounds like a good idea man

    • Oh, Adam, if you think that is a cool way to manipulate pvc, then I have a mind blower for you! I am a professional wall cladder, that is to say I take 4' by 8' or 4 by 10' sheets of 3/16 thick pvc then cut them and bend them to line the walls of operating rooms, industrial kitchens, factory clean rooms, etc. We use a 10' long thermal break (like a sheet metal break) to heat and bend inside and outside corners. It is an aluminum box lined with ceramic that has a long straight oven element inside, with an exposed upper slot. We glue the sheets to the walls and weld the 1/16" gap between the sheets with the same kind of welding gun that vinyl flooring guys use. It is so slick, so smooth, so clean, words don't do it justice. The stuff is expensive, but I bet you could afford some. The brand name is Altro Whiterock, and it is a space-age material just waiting for more artistic uses. Also a tip: wait for your break to heat up before putting your material on it, that way you will avoid any discolouration or warping. Also, ventilation is a good idea too! I love your stuff, especially Tested. Cheers from Canada!

    • @PARADOX also I subbed to your SElists channel because I love apex plz do more vids

    • @PARADOX Yea

  • Next one-day build: making a thermal camera from old screws, spit, and spare parts. For five bucks.

  • "vitrine": display case, typically made of tempered glass or of acrylic, from "vitreous", I suspect.

  • No fire in my biography. Yet.

  • I use your blow dryer oven technique all the time now.

  • okay thats a good bend

  • Last few seconds: Life-Size IRON MAN Mk 1 Bobble Head!

  • Did you get a new milling machine?

  • You really need to do something about that cotton candy hairdo! Buzz it down bro, trust me!

  • Sanding and paint makes the modeller I ain't. :-) But seriously, great video tip. Thanks to all involved.

  • Ain't it funny so smart butt can't make a car run on hydrogen !

  • I would love to see the hack smith and Adam colab

  • You think Adam has enough pen's above his hammers?

  • My singular request for these videos is a link to the books Adam references. Even if it is nothing more than a link to a Goodreads description. I hope to see this implemented as it will save me time searching for the books he talks about. Which Tom Sachs book?

  • This brings back memories of dual wielding two of these devices to create thousands and thousands of warehouse hanging signs. I can SMELL this video. Having a board over the top of the strip helps concentrate the heat and make your piece get plastic quicker. Though it would increase your chances of encountering "the fire" if you aren't paying attention.

  • I'm sure that it bugged someone but I love how the camera made your sweatshirt psychedelic. :)

  • You heat the outer curve of the bend. That seems the most logical thing to do because the outer curve deforms the most, so it has to be more flexible. But can you bend it the other way as well?

  • I like that iron man mk. 1 bobble head he’s making!

  • Longer piece bigger heater?

  • Origami... or maybe oripura crane out of pvc foam board, lol? Even with that heater some of the folds necessary would probably be impossible. Maybe a basic origami cicada. A 'paper' airplane might also be cool.

  • “The Fire” is something in 45 years I’ve been able to avoid in my studio. There’s always tomorrow

  • You can use a heat isolation blanket over your piece to concentrate the heat. Talking about bending stuff, have a look at Kaka Vise Brake Die Set. Also, do you have a Machinery's Handbook in your shop for reference? Like your work.

  • Was there a video of the new mill, or did I miss it?

  • You got a new mill! Cool!!!!

  • Adam, try a FLIR One Pro. I think This Old Tony had one and liked it.

  • You can buy PVC foam core pipe, too. It looks just like regular PVC pipe, but it's lighter weight. You can get it at a hardware store.

  • how long will it be before we are a thermal camera?

  • I remember using one of these or something like it in junior high, 13 yrs old, in our shop class to bend acrylic sheets.

  • Adam, you mentioned a roll heater? Also, that strip heater is not in stock on amazon anymore. Lol.

  • did you get this on ebay? it looks exactly like the one i used to own? such a simple but highly affective tool.

  • I'm surprised that the heater doesn't have a bending mechanism to be able to bend the sheet in situ, easy made though.

  • How do you not have a thermal camera... Adam savage and you don't have predator vision....

  • The last time I used my glue gun I left it on for close to a week.

  • My cousin has 12 blow dryers in her shop. Oh wait.....she owns a beauty salon. LOL

  • Next tool, heat camera😄

  • My tip for not burning down the shop is get yourself an extension lead with individual switches that light up nice and bright. At the end of the day when I turn the lights off I see the switches glowing and it reminds me!

  • what happened to the dinosaur build! i was super invested in that and it just vanished =c

  • My job for may years was making displays for supermarkets using a Strip Heater like that. A bit bigger and had mutiple heating elements but definatly an effective tool to have.

  • Ok, we've seen a number of different views of his workshop now. It looks like a fascinating place. I have to ask: Adam, do you have a favorite spot in your workshop and if so, why is it your favorite?

  • Seems your video compression has some severe problems with larger red areas.

  • Wonder if it would benefit better if you flip the piece so both sides get exposure to the element.

  • Interesting. I've never heard of pvc foam boards. If it's roughly the same weight as normal dollar store foam board, perhaps it could be a more durable material for making gliders? But if they make it the same thickness as a styrofoam plate, that would be outstanding as the majority of the gliders I make I use styrofoam plates for the wings but the big issue is if there's even the slightest bend or crease or knick in the foam, it totals the part.

    • I have a Guillows Flying Machine rubber powered glider that came with a badly warped wing. I thought about making a replacement using just what I had lying around and used six flat sections I cut out of some typical styrofoam plates and used packing tape to hold them together and it worked beautifully! Then I tried changing up the design from the original wing and came up with a swept back wing with a round leading edge at the tips and it flew at least three times better than the original straight wing. However sadly, I flew the life out of it and the cheap plastic propeller wore itself to the point it fell off. I need to get another plane so I can make a more refined version and get some extra band-prop motors or find one that's more durable.

  • "... every artists biography has a chapter: The Fire." Flashback to... "Am i missing ... an eybrow?!?"

    • Not so much "fire in the hole" as fire in the whole shop!

  • I have a hair dryer in my shop ,In the winter I blow it under my jumper every 30 mins to warm up too haha

    • Also why can't you read metric now?! Lol

  • I love the honesty.

  • Cool, although you do want to be a little careful about heading PVC. Heated PVC emits vinyl chloride which is carcinogenic, teratogenic, mutagenic, and just plain poisonous. I try to do it outdoors and standing upwind on a breezy day.

  • Out of curiosity, why would one leave the hot glue gun plugged in over night? aint just all the hot glue gonna run out while you aint there?

  • You can further focus the heat from a strip heater with thin gauge polished steel. If you have a partial bend, you can also mask half of the plastic to prevent it from getting hot. Also, fixturing the final shape is key to a high quality final product.

  • I just rewatched your EDC video from a few years ago. You need to machine the ‘perfect’ flashlight!

  • how are u not verified

  • So borriiinngggg

  • I remember using one of these in the late 70's in a general shop class

  • If you're going to be heating PVC it should be done outside or while wearing a gas mask. Hot PVC can release dangerous vapors, and they're even worse if the PVC burns.

  • I made my own strip heater about 5 years ago, they are really awesome to have. Mine has a 15 minute timer built into its power supply so it always shuts its self off. They are really quite easy to make, just some metal channel, apropriatly sized heating element (NiChrome wire) and a power supply. My how glue gun and primary soldering station also have similar 1 hour timers. A few too many times walking into the shop and saying what is that smell. along with a full glue stick in a puddle in my glue gun stand.

  • I remember using one of those to heat and bend acrylic in middle school tech Ed to make a "desk organizer". (Hence acrylic strip heater? I suspect heating pvc probably isn't highly recommended...). I didn't wait quite long enough and it cracked in the bend right at the end...

  • SElists had a field day with artifacting on the jacket lmao

  • My job is working as an industrial electrician and one of the places that I work at makes pvc piping, tubes, and other pvc parts and its a huge factory.. they say the hardest thing for them to produce is the thin sheets of pvc like what Adam is using.. the great thing about pvc is that when they produce it, it is recyclable.. so if a pvc part was not formed correctly then they can grind it up into small pieces and re-heat, and re-use the grinds they made.. it is awesome that I get to work on machines that make materials like what Adam uses all the time..

  • Just watched the Mythbusters green hornet episode. I thought a man of you intelligence would know the difference between a bulldozer and a loader.

  • I learned how to juggle while using this in my shop I would juggle while waiting for it to heat the acrylic so I could bend it then I would put the balls down and bend the acrylic put a me one down and juggle again

  • Adam should make a cool ass pool stick

  • "every artist's Biography has a Chapter called 'The Fire' " Me, an illustrator: uhhh... Why do I hear Boss Fight music?

  • We made one in the 90's but had square tubing fixed either side the heater strip and water plumbed in to cool beside the heater strip so the heat was focused to the perspex sheet we were bending. Heat creep is a thing hence the need. Caution with water and electronics advised here though. Rather than a close recirculating system we just used a couple of going in, and one going out into the little garden outside lol We were a large architectural Sign shop and commercial versions of this, required the sacrifice of your first born and a virgin to buy.

  • I have 1-2-3 blocks, but what on earth is that huge one?

  • That's cheating, I always used a torch and 1/4 aluminum sheets to deflect heat and give a good bend line,

  • I coach a robotics team in Minnesota and I send most of these videos to the other coaches on the team with "hey can we get one of these"

    • FRC 3572 here, this tool is magical for bending plastics. Polycarbonate has the protective layer of plastic on it and that is an aid for bending with heat too. You'll know it is ready to bend when the protective sheet "sweats" or looks slightly wet. Just don't leave it on too long or the material will bubble and be brittle.

  • The one we had in highschool had an adjustable top. I really miss my highschool days cause we had a really well laid out woodwork shop and metal work shop.

  • The hair drier tip was GREAT !! I'm building the Dumas PT-109 model and on the Bow they wanted you to cut a bunch of little pieces and glue them on to form the bow. I cut them in one big long strip and glued one end on the took the hair drier and heated and bent the strips to shape. So much easier.

  • I used one of these in highschool shop class.

  • Even PVC drain pipe is handy, I used my hot air gun and a section of 4" drain to make a bailing scoop for my kayak.

  • Good tip! Editors: Pls adjust the colour balance ping-pong we've seen a lot of recently. Thanks!

  • I can't stand it when some doofus gets ahold of one of these and proceeds to start making EVERYTHING out of bent plastic. It has it's uses but it is very limited....

    • You have a weirdly specific trigger. I personally cannot stand hot glue guns, so vulgar.

  • I have used this same type of strip heater to bend foam PVC as well. I find that back-cutting the PVC on the table saw about half the thickness of the material and just over 1/8" wide (for 1/4" thick material) allows you to fold the material into itself, creating a tighter bend and a perfect 90 degree interior corner while also 'guiding' the bend along the cut line which keeps it straight.

  • Can't believe its not a one day build diy version 😊

  • I teach high school shop class and we’re starting with this strip heating acrylic tomorrow! Guess who’s video I’m going to start the lesson off with now.

  • Grinder an' paint makes me the linear plastic bender I ain't.

  • I built an acrylic strip heat for less than $50.00. The others cost $400+

  • As always when Adam links to a machine: "Currently unavailable" Why is that?

  • Will this work with acrylic clear plastic

  • I've used a heat gun for this, but what I did is clamp the plastic in a vise, heat it up, and use a piece of angle iron to push it over. Worked surprisingly well.

  • I miss jamie

  • You probably combusted enough material during the run of Mythbusters to take a lifetime mulligan on "THE FIRE" chapter.

    • @cmdraftbrn i reject your eyebrow and substitute my own.

    • am i missing an eyebrow?

  • Holy crap, did anyone else notice how the Iron Man helmet was bobbing back and forth, and looked like it was nodding along with Adam at the end?

  • The one consistent thing through this whole pandemic has been these videos, to Adam and everyone who makes these videos possible, from the bottom of my heart, I appreciate them so much. They create consistency and routine which is what is what we're lacking recently. Thank you for all of this ❤️

  • When we had to bend PVC out in the field we'd just pour glue on it and light it on fire. Might not want to try that at home, kids.

  • with the amount of wood in the Adam cave, from floor beam to small wood holders, an fire in the cave would give the fire of 1906 a run for run for its money. I so hope that day never comes. the lost for the future generations would be too great.

  • Clean solution!

  • (9:41) Adam: It's a little crowded in here. Iron Man nodding his head in agreement.

  • Don't think Adam has met a tool he didn't like.

  • love it...especially the "poor man's strip heater "

  • Hot glue guns should have flashing lights when turned on.

  • Bend pieces of sheetmetal commonly have 2 lines (almost just scratches) that run parallel to the bend, on the outside face of the bend, on equal distance from the centre of the bend. This is a result of the use of a guillotine sheetmetal brake. If you want to imitate the fingerprint of this specific tool that is widely used in the sheetmetal industry, then you could look further into this :)

  • Hey Adam, I just finished building myself one of these out of some MDF and nichrome wire! I think it would make a great one day build for you, because you can also include a movable section on one side of the heating wire to allow for in-place precise bends.

  • PVC can off gas some toxic fumes when heated. Please do this in a vented space.

  • That suit has personality and is becoming something of a co-host.

  • Left a 15w Antex soldering iron on in the shed, only noticed six months later, that was forty years ago and its still doing just fine!

  • One downside to most calrod heaters, like the one here, is that it makes for a wide heated zone, and a larger radius bend. If you look a nichrome wire strip heaters, they give you a much finer line of heat, and make cleaner bends. They both are functional and have their place, but I generally prefer nichrome wire versions (they're also dead easy to make yourself).

  • I'd bet Naomi Wu could help you get a reasonable IR camera (or maybe an ule phone) if you wanted to show off the heat ranges later.

  • Ultimate tool tip: Digital Calipers. With the press of one button your imperial measurments turn into metric :D

    • No one's used the Imperial inch in almost 100 years now. Today we use the international industrial standard inch. Which is precisely 25.4mm. The old Imperial inch was a wee bit smaller than that.

  • just love your enthusiasm