I was experimenting with living hinges today until I successfully made a 1x12 inch long strip that easily bent into a circle. Then I thought… hmmmm… what might be a simple use for that? A little math and some quick circles later and I had this dish. Figured it’d look nicer in acrylic. Turned out shockingly pretty. I was just going to use it as a place to put some of the little pieces of hardware I’m collecting but I think this one might need to go to someone with nicer things to put in it.
If you don’t mind the smell, I’m finding acrylic really easy to work with. I went to my local Tap Plastics and grabbed 25lbs of the stuff out of their scrap bin for cheap. You want to look for cast acrylic vs extruded. The cast will engrave with a nice frosted look while extruded will remain clear. You can tell the difference just by looking since cast is usually backed with paper and extruded is backed with plastic.
The glue was the Tap Plastic branded Acrylic Cement. It’s a solvent that causes the acrylic to melt a little and welds pieces together. You’ll also want some sort of applicator (squeeze bottle with a needle) because the stuff is really thin and runs easily. It won’t kill you to get some on your fingers (you can wash it off with soap and water) but you should really wear gloves. According to the guy at the store the glue will never evaporate and will last forever so one small bottle will go a long way.
The top and bottom disks have a groove engraved into them to hold the hinge. Then I used acrylic glue to bond them together. The stuff is a pain to work with but actually melts the acrylic together for a very strong bond. It comes as a liquid and you use a small needle nose squirt bottle to apply it. I’ve also heard of a more gel-like version that might be easier for these sorts of applications.
No. Folks have experimented with living hinges cut from acrylic, but the focus has been on making a curve that is static, not something that can be exercised repeatedly. A mat like you describe just isn’t possible - it’s way too brittle.
Likewise, solid wood doesn’t work well, but plywood and mdf fare better. They’ll snap if used too much or bent with too tight a radius.
Lots of good info if you search for “acrylic living hinge”