MAME cabinet, console bending

A few weeks ago I managed to combine having a morning off work whilst also having a car at my disposal, in order to pick up the acrylic for the controller console. Disappointingly enough the only shop that stocked colored acrylic I could find had very limited open hours, so the visit got postponed for quite some time. Basically their open hours completely overlapped with my work hours, no mail order available either. Anyway, I eventually got it scheduled and thus the time became to realize my initial plan for the console!

Since this was my first take on shaping a larger piece of acrylic I figured I might just as well buy two sheets of the same size. In case the first try would turn out too much a classic “practising piece”, I’d hate myself for having have to schedule a second visit to the shop. If I get it right on the first go, the second sheet can be saved for some other project. So, on with the build.. Quickly modelling the parts together it turned out that the dimensions on my initial plan needed some adjustments. As-is, the front edge would’ve been too narrow for the buttons and cabling to fit in. So, I added a few centimeters here and there,  cut out the inner end pieces of the console and lined them up together using a support in-between:

The console plexi shaping support

Next up, I lined up and fastened the sheet of acrylic from the upper edge leaving a small flap (on the left side in the following picture) to the edge that will go against the cabinet. This will be used as the upper mounting support once it’s bent up.

Plexi aligned for shaping by fastening it to the frame with a few screws from both ends. Upper mounting flap on the left.

Then, just fire up the heater gun and see how this goes! Bending the acrylic sure proved difficult enough without any clamps or such, but I managed to keep the construct in place by supporting it against my feet.

Shaping in progress, first corner clear!

The first corner turned out quite ok, only slightly dipping in the middle. Some additional horizontal support would’ve surely helped with this, but it was too late to start adding that at this point :). Second corner proved far more trickier as the first corner softened up slightly whilst heating the second one. Getting the front edge lined up neatly with the end pieces WHILST keeping the front edge flat seemed to take forever. When this was done, I bent the upper mounting flap.. This time using a proper horizontal support.

This small flap will become the upper mounting support

Side view of completed basic shape

Ta-daa, the completed basic shape! Not even a near-perfect fit, but still decent enough for me not to ditch it. The seams will be covered up by the outer end pieces, so the console will look better when those are in place. Next up though, I think I have to do a bit of drilling just to see what this thing looks like with the buttons and joysticks installed ;)

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