My main goal here is to make spherical or parabolic shapes. This is very difficult to do using kerf bending because of fundamental mathematical principles ruling flat and curved geometries, but I've had some descent success so far. I've written some basic code in C to generate .svg files, and cut out some successful prototypes on the 60W(?) Trotec laser cutter at Xerocraft.
Last night I had my first success in forming an UHMW sphere section. I made a 10" diameter circle from 1/8" (3mm) stock. The center is roughly 1-1.5" proud of the edge.
My main difficulty was simply with getting good cuts in UHMW- it tends to melt, and the high density of cuts in my part leads to significant thermal warping. My successful solution was to screw the sheet into a peice of thick plywood for support (four screws around the edges, plus one in the middle). I also ran the laser cutter extremely slowly (over 5x slower than our settings for similarly-sized acrylic or wood); this basically melts the PE and blows it away with the air-assist. The kerf is relatively wide, and the surfaces (covered with masking tape) require some scraping to clean off, but the end result is surprisingly good.
Download the stupid simple code from my server here. It's written in C. It ought to compile and run without issue on any flavor of linux with basic C libraries and gcc.
At the moment, critical parameters (such as circle diameter and slot length) may be configured by changing the #define statements at the beginning of the code. Ugly, but effective.
The cut out shape is quite flexible on its own. But to maintain a bent shape, ideally you'd soften the piece (both thermoplastics and MDF soften well with hot water) and press it in a "die" until it cools/dries/hardens. The form I have in the pictures was made using a very simple CAD solid part imported into 123Make, which generates the files to cut out all the pieces.