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I'm not sure if this is the right kind of question for this site, but I thought that people here are more likely to know the answer.

I'm looking for a hot air gun in order to melt plastic - mostly acetate, but perhaps thicker materials later on - such that it crumples up, or perhaps even burns very slightly. This is for artistic projects such as building sets. I'm not sure exactly what type of tool is needed for this, as craft shop hot air guns tend to be for tasks such as embossing, and probably aren't hot enough. On the other hand, I'm worried that a paint stripper might be far too hot. Perhaps even a simple hair dryer would do the job?!

Some of these tools describe their temperature - is this generally the temperature of the element, or of the air at the nozzle? A device with a variable temperature setting would be good, but I need to know roughly what range I'm looking for.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

While the lower end hotair guns often only have one or two settings, the more expensive models offer variable increments (I've seen units that do 50 degrees and a commenter mentioned 10 degrees; each model will be different so review the specs). The temperature spec gives the output temperature.

Start low and increase the temperature as needed to melt the plastic. Do this in a well vented area as the fumes can be toxic.

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+1, I've seen models that claim 10-degress Celsium increment. –  sharptooth Dec 6 '11 at 6:33
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+1 for the toxicity warning. Some plastics (such vinyl siding) are incredibly dangerous when melting/burning. –  DA01 Dec 6 '11 at 21:51
    
Thanks for the advice –  Kate Rolfe Dec 7 '11 at 2:02
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