Tight Heat-Bending Laminate

Here's a short but informational conversation on applying heat to laminate in order to accomplish tight bends. July 26, 2010

I am trying to laminate around two 1-1/2" radii on the item below. It is approximately 27" that I have to bend. My problem is, even with two guys using heat guns, we are having trouble getting the laminate to the 325 temp in a short time. The postform laminate just isn't bending. I also think the wood may be acting as a heat sink. I'm using Wilsonart postforming laminate. Is there a better way to do this? Does someone make a heat lamp or is this not an option? Thanks for any advice. I have to make several of these units and have to remedy this problem.

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Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surfacing Forum)
From contributor E:
We used to form laminate to as tight as a 3/8" radius (3/4" HPL doors). This was with postform grade. We used a quartz lamp. They are listed as "Electric Infrared Heaters" in Graingers. For your application, you would do best to have some "Tempilaque" so you can assess the precise time to remove the heat and bend the laminate. We would spray the sheet of laminate with spray grade contact cement, mark the dried contact cement at the area to bend with a matchstick sized dab of the temperature sensing paint, and apply heat with the quartz heater to the pattern side of the laminate. When the heat sensing paint turns clear you have a few seconds to perform the bend. We used a Betterley underscribe router to make a seam on the back side of the door.