Re: Welding and fabricating thermoplastics
You could also try a solvent weld. Some plastics become temporarily liquified when a certain solvent is applied. The solvent is applied to both sides then joined together. The solvent evaporates away and leaves a solid single piece of plastic. You could probably find this at hobby shops for styrene models, or somewhere that sells weld-on supplies.
There are other ways of welding plastics, too, like radio frequency or ultrasonic welding. I'm sure the price of that equipment is not in the budget, though.
To get some material samples, try your local college or university industrial design or engineering department. They usually have all kinds of scrap material, and maybe they'll be kind enough to give you a sample to play with.
ps. check out the thread "Adventures with my new furnace" I just submitted under construction techniques and processes, regarding making plastic pieces that don't look like reused garbage. I used my new furnace to cast some aluminum molds for making plastic mannequin parts. It was a lot of work, but not a crazy amount. I made mold patterns from my original sculpture, then made sand cast aluminum copies. These aluminum molds were sanded, matched together, and bolted to a steel frame. These went to a rotational molding company that puts the mold on a 3-axis rotating arm where they first dump powdered plastic in and bolt the mold closed. The arm starts rotating and travels to an oven where the aluminum heats up and melts the plastic, coating the inside of the mold. It then moves to a cooling chamber where it is misted with water. Then back out where the plastic part is removed and the process starts over again. It's a pretty involved process, but it can be done. Some of that garbage could be turned into artwork that doesn't look like garbage.
Last edited by Daniel : 07-19-2008 at 10:31 PM.