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Acrylic enclosure warping

Discussion in 'Vivariums and Terrariums' started by wetwork, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. wetwork

    wetwork Arachnosquire Arachnosupporter

    I have some acrylic terrestrial enclosures (purchased from a reputable dealer) and either the lids or the enclosures themselves (or both) seem to be warping. The top is no longer flush and the lid dips down a bit (slight gap on the L enclosures, more pronounced on the XL enclosure). The hasps used to snap open/close with ease but it's now becoming more and more difficult to the point of jarring the entire enclosure every time I need to open it.

    Is there any way to prevent further warping or somehow reverse it? Substrate is dry with only a water dish, no misting, no heat lamp or heat source nearby. My apartment is usually 60s-70s deg F during winter with occasional use of the central heating on colder nights. I believe the acrylic is 3/16" on the sides and 1/8" wrap.

    I like the look and uniformity of the acrylic enclosures and hope to keep using them rather than using glass and having to make custom lids. I also don't have a lot time to make custom enclosures which is why I decided to spend the extra cash and go the pre-made route. Basically just wanted to see if I could somehow fix the warping issue.

    Thanks everyone.
  2. It's warped! Can't fix it. The lids on plastic tanks should be polycarbonate and have two latches. Acrylic holds humidity with any substrate wet or dry. Because of the humidity inside the tank ank outside air, warp happens.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  3. Python

    Python Arachnolord Old Timer

    Once it's warped it generally tends to stay warped. I prefer glass myself since it doesn't abrade as bad, although I don't use it much. I mostly use plastic tubs and small, square, sealable canisters. I think a lot of people use tubs and deli cups for the most part. They are cheap, readily available and stackable. You can also store a lot of empties in a small space so you can keep spares at hand with little trouble, especially when the addiction takes hold and you need to have ready made homes for the new impulse buys. Something to keep in mind
    • Like Like x 2
  4. Red Eunice

    Red Eunice Arachnobaron Active Member

    Post a picture. All may not be lost, yet!
    I might have a suggestion you can use.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Clarification Please Clarification Please x 1
  5. wetwork

    wetwork Arachnosquire Arachnosupporter

    Pic attached of the XL enclosure. It doesn't look too bad but it's a pain to close the hatches without creating a mini earthquake for them. Just hope the pressure doesn't eventually pop the hasps off and I end up with a lost T.
    All my T's are larger than 3" so I plan on looking for larger enclosures.

    Attached Files:

    • Clarification Please Clarification Please x 1
  6. Red Eunice

    Red Eunice Arachnobaron Active Member

    Almost logged off.
    First, don't buy anymore of these, material thickness was wrong from the get go. I build arboreal enclosures, just a terrestrial set on end, basically.
    Quick and easy, although will reduce visual on the door/lid, but will stop the bowing effect. Most DIY centers sell 2' sections of 1/2"X1/2" aluminum U channel for hobby work and cost $5-6. Cut 2 equal length pieces 1/2"-1" shorter than measurement of front to back of lid. Place 1/2"-1" from each edge. Attach, one of 2 ways, epoxy or small machine bolts, of the flat side to the lid. Do this on the top/outside area of the lid. Don't pop rivet, that thin acrylic will break apart.
    May not be eye appealing, but will save the enclosure from further problems.
    Btw, you could use angle aluminum or flat bar if u channel isn't available. Hope this helps and good luck!
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  7. wetwork

    wetwork Arachnosquire Arachnosupporter

    Thank you sir! I agree the U channel or any bar would make the display enclosure unsightly. I may have to go the glass route and find some thicker acrylic for a lid.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Red Eunice

    Red Eunice Arachnobaron Active Member

    Another thought, if you've a hobby store locally, look for acrylic pieces. Use Weld On 3 to bond it.
    I built an arboreal, 12"X12"X18", using .118" thick acrylic. After a couple months the door began to bow, not enough for an escape, but feeders crawled out. Epoxied U channel and now the fit is flush.
    I don't display mine in the open, people have to go into the basement to see my collection. Once they make over the dogs that is. Lol!
    • Informative Informative x 2
  9. The Snark

    The Snark Extremely jaded cynical yet optomistic Old Timer

    What you are describing is called stiffeners in the mechanical engineering trade. Warpage and sag is a very common problem with many thin materials. As a perfect example, what people think is stylish curves and folds in a car body are actually stiffeners to keep the car from looking like a wet cardboard box in a few months. If you can't build those curves, folds and tucks in, stiffeners have to be added. That is where creativity comes in like aluminum struts and ribs or welded laminates.
    When using stiffeners it isn't just the strength of the stiffener but how well it is attached. Another piece is the same material bonded to the original piece can often suffice as what you create is a lamination. Layers bonded together, each thin and having a tendency to warp but in different directions from the material it supports. Laminations are often used as they create opposing forces as in the hull and ribs of boats.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. wetwork

    wetwork Arachnosquire Arachnosupporter

    @ArachnoDrew clarification: the lid appears to be getting sucked inwards (but the enclosure is bowing outwards). The hasps get stuck because of this. The pic I attached was to see the top plane of the enclosure.
  11. MrTwister

    MrTwister Arachnosquire

    Is it possible to bend the material back to the original position and use some acrylic strips to clamp and cement. I would think that some reinforcing should give it some ridgigity to resist warping.
    • Agree Agree x 1