DIY Windshields for hard bodies?

Jim85IROC

Member
Does anybody have any advice for making good looking windshields for hard bodies? I've got a few 3d printed bodies that I'm currently working on, and I want to have clear windshields. Most windshields have a curved design not only in the horizontal direction, but vertically as well, and the curves in the pillars of most of these 3d printed bodies seem to reflect that. I was thinking about heating some lexan body trimmings in a frame in the oven just to create a slight amount of sag, but I'm not sure how well that's going to work. Has anybody else made their own windshields?

Thanks!
 

imthatguy

Putting it in "H"
Best method I can think of is to make a template from masking tape that contours. Lay that flat on a lexan sheet and trim. Bend with some heat in the appropriate places and you're done.
 

SeanOB

Supporting Member
Not that I have tried this myself as yet, but I think this method with actual glass is very cool:
 

zanthrax

Supporting Member
I use CAD (Cardboard Aided Design) with some thin cardboard, like a cereal box.
Hold it on the outside, trace the windows from the inside, cut it out of lexan slightly larger, then slowly trim it to fix to it snugly fit the body.
To curve it I bend it and tape the ends together and leave it overnight like that, this doesn't do much but I've not had any luck evenly heating the lexan so it will smoothly bend without picking up tool marks.
I then glue it from the inside with some clear glue, while putting masking tape on the outside to hold it in place.
For a cleaner look I use a small brush to paint a black border around the inside of the windows.
 

fab1ten

Supporting Member
I am planning to try something like this soon for my current build. As I understand it, Lexan/polycarbonate absorbs moisture from the atmosphere and must be dried out before heating and forming, otherwise the moisture will boil and cause thousands of micro bubbles in the plastic when heated. I am not sure of the drying process, but I recall it involves heating the sheet to a temperature below the boiling point of water for a few hours, to drive off the water, then heat the sheet up more to form it.

I think acrylic sheet is easier to form. It doesn't need to be dried, and forms at a lower temperature. You will need a very smooth form with ideally a mirror finish, as the plastic will pick up any imperfections in the surface finish.

This is all based mostly on my reasearch rather than experience, so take it for what it's worth. I will know more in a few weeks when I try this for myself.

I believe Mike from the Tiny Shed was trying this just last week. Maybe he can add some info.
 

Frizzen

Active member
Look at some of those products you buy in cardboard boxes with the really nice plastic windows to display the thing inside.
I really like using them to make windows. Takes some creative relief cut trimming to get kinda complex curves.
Really complex and you'd be looking at some heatgun work to shrink/stretch
 

Mikes tiny shed of dreams

Everything is covered in goop
I am planning to try something like this soon for my current build. As I understand it, Lexan/polycarbonate absorbs moisture from the atmosphere and must be dried out before heating and forming, otherwise the moisture will boil and cause thousands of micro bubbles in the plastic when heated. I am not sure of the drying process, but I recall it involves heating the sheet to a temperature below the boiling point of water for a few hours, to drive off the water, then heat the sheet up more to form it.

I think acrylic sheet is easier to form. It doesn't need to be dried, and forms at a lower temperature. You will need a very smooth form with ideally a mirror finish, as the plastic will pick up any imperfections in the surface finish.

This is all based mostly on my reasearch rather than experience, so take it for what it's worth. I will know more in a few weeks when I try this for myself.

I believe Mike from the Tiny Shed was trying this just last week. Maybe he can add some info.

I tried 2mm acyrlic as found in diy stores for indoor glazing (picture frames?) I tried making a metal form the same size and shape as the window I wanted to make then cutting out a piece of acrylic the same size, I initially used a hair dryer to heat things up but this took a long time and heated the job unevenly so switched to an oven. I set the oven to 200c, I laid the plastic onto the form and placed it on a baking tray on a lower shelf, after a couple of minutes the plastic was soft enough to droop to the form. I made many attempts before the plastic took a close enough shape for me to be happy with the shape. I found that the acyrilic became VERY BRITTLE after heating so was not satisfied. I tried some acetate sheet (found in model shop, also used for overhead projectors from the 1980/90s instead which is much thinner, this acted in a similar manner when heated. It took around 20 attempts to get a satisfactory result.
 
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