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Old 03-04-2009, 03:17 AM   #1
pzrwest
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My Handy Vacu-former

Here are some pics of a handy vacu-former I made from a small hotplate and some scrap paneling. I have a flip frame to transfer the heated plastic sheet to the vacume side. I use a regular vacume cleaner to creat the vacume. As I flip the softened plastic over to the vacume side I turn on the vacum cleaner and presto!!! it sucks the plastic over the plug. Was simple to build and was made from stuff I had kicking around. The hot plate and vacume chamber measure 6"x6" . I also make vacu chambers from old speaker cabinets and use the oven on broil to heat the plastic





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Old 03-04-2009, 10:41 AM   #2
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Quite ingenious! Good show!

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Old 03-04-2009, 06:22 PM   #3
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Here we are doing a vacu-form of a brit helmet.
1st pic is the hotplate heating up and the sheet of styrene is secured in it's frame. For a plug I used the metal brit helemet

Next pic the plastic is being heated and almost ready to form. It's sagging nicely

Next pic the plastic has been flipped and the vacum started and sucked the plastic down over the the form. In this case for example I just used a metal brit helmet

Last pic I have rough cut out the vacu-formed copy
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Old 03-05-2009, 03:01 AM   #4
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That's the stuff Harold!!! I've been thinking about making one for a few years now, maybe this will get me going again.

Are the holes in the vacuum side any certain diameter, spacing, etc? Any idea just how big you can go with the frame? How about maximum thickness of plastic? I have an old ShopVac (forget what size it is) that should work. I like the idea of having the heater and table all in one unit. I tried to heat a piece of plastic in the oven once and it was a disaster.
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Old 03-05-2009, 04:16 AM   #5
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Ok on this vacuformer I spaced the holes at 1/2" and used a 1/16th drill bit. On my larger formers I used the same 1/16th drill bit and then spaced the holes 1" apart. For large formers I used speaker cabinets that will fit in the oven. And the heigth of the box is about 6" in height. I make a frame that fits the dimensions of the cabinet. I place the rack so I have about 8-12" from the broiler coils and place the plug on the cabinet then set the frame with the plastic ontop of the plug. I use 2 vacume cleaners for the larger formers. I turn on the broiler and when the plastic starts to drop over the plug I switch on the cleaners and as soon as the plastic is sucked down over the plug I pull the rack out of the oven and leave the cleaners running till the plastic cools then turn them off. As for plastic thickness I use .010 or .020 for small items and .030 or .040 for larger items. I have never tried .060 styrene yet for vacuforming. Never try and use the clear plastic from soda bottles. Soda bottles do not stretch when heated they shrink. They switched the clear plastic to prevent pop bottle from explodeing when they get heated by the sun through store windows. If you want to try a test with a soda bottle boil some water in a kettle and then pour it into a plastic soda bottle and watch it shrink in size and get very hard. I'll dig out my other larger former and take some pics of it tomorrow
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Old 03-05-2009, 10:48 AM   #6
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Thanks Harold. It sounds simple enough, now to do it!
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Old 03-05-2009, 12:34 PM   #7
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Timing is the is the big thing.... too long and you melt a hole or it catches fire, or not long enough and it won't form correctly over the plug. And a good seal helps too. without a plug on the deck and the plastic sadwiched between the frames turn on the vacume and there should be alot of resistance to left the frame off the former. Without a decent seal it won't suck the plastic down properly
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Old 03-05-2009, 03:14 PM   #8
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Here are pics of my other homemade vacuformer made from an old speaker cabinet. The cabinet measures 18" x 11" x 4". the 2 holes in the side are for attaching 2 vacume cleaners for maximun suction. The frames behind the former are made from the same material used in peg board but with out all the holes. Think it's called masonite. I used foam weather stripping for the seal around the edges


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Old 03-06-2009, 01:24 AM   #9
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Well here are pics of the Brit helmet I copied useing my small vacuformer

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