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Author Topic: good cheap vacuum former under $50 (not $500)  (Read 3457 times)

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Offline drcrashTopic starter

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good cheap vacuum former under $50 (not $500)
« on: July 16, 2007, 03:34:09 PM »
The vacuum forming tutorial makes it sound like a vacuum former has to cost $500 or so, even if you make it yourself.

I wrote an "Instructible" (how-to) on how to make a good, cheap, upgradeable vacuum former for under $50, using your kitchen oven and a vacuum cleaner:

http://instructibles.com/id/E8RW98YF3C4XLCQ/

Here's a movie of it in action:



You can add a standalone oven made from a two-burner hot plate and disposable aluminum pans for under $30.

You can add a high vacuum system for forming thick plastic for about another $50.

This stuff and more is linked at the Vacuum Former Plans blog at www.VacuumFormerPlans.com




« Last Edit: July 16, 2007, 03:44:56 PM by drcrash »

Offline Dosbomber

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Re: good cheap vacuum former under $50 (not $500)
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2007, 03:54:24 PM »
Excellent video.  Clears up some of the confusion I had from the written version of the instructable.
Dosbomber

Offline Brandon121233

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Re: good cheap vacuum former under $50 (not $500)
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2007, 08:13:58 PM »
I don't know too much about vacuum forming... but do you know what the maximum thickness of plastic you can use to make parts out of?   
Hell, there are no rules here—we're
   trying to accomplish something.

                                                                              —Thomas Edison

Offline drcrashTopic starter

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Re: good cheap vacuum former under $50 (not $500)
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2007, 07:04:07 AM »
I don't know too much about vacuum forming... but do you know what the maximum thickness of plastic you can use to make parts out of?   

With a simple easy setup like in the video, you can form plastic up to about a quarter of an inch thick.  I've made parts the size of the one in the video that my wife and I can both stand on without breaking them.  (Of course the rigidity & strength depend on the shape.)

When you form thick plastic as shown in the video, without a high vacuum system, you don't get very sharp detail---the shape gets smoothed out by the thickness of the plastic, and somewhat more.

You can get better detail with a high vacuum system, which pulls several times harder than a vacuum cleaner.  (You can use a converted bike pump, or electric tire inflator, or kitchen food sealer, or a "nebulizer" pump from a thrift store.)  For maximum detail, you want to suck the plastic into a concave mold, rather than draping it over a positive mold as in the video.  (The side of the plastic that's against the mold has the best detail;  the other side is smoothed out more.)

I'd think that for most robot purposes, plain vacuum forming of 1/8" plastic over a positive mold with a vacuum cleaner would be fine---you can make smooth compound curves with curve radii of about 3/16" for convex stuff, or 3/8" for concave areas.  (Somewhat finer detail does show through, but in muted form.)

People seem to like rounded-off robot stuff, and the parts are generally convex, so a cheap easy vacuum forming setup can be very useful for making your bot look professionally made.

With a fancier setup, you can form plastic up to 3/8" or 1/2" thick, but I think that's overkill for most robot purposes, and I haven't tried it yet.

Offline drcrashTopic starter

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Re: good cheap vacuum former under $50 (not $500)
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2007, 07:06:19 AM »
Excellent video.  Clears up some of the confusion I had from the written version of the instructable.

Let me know what you found confusing.  (I intend to edit the Instructable.  It was a bit of a rush job, and should have had the video to start with.)

Offline Admin

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Re: good cheap vacuum former under $50 (not $500)
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2007, 07:35:15 PM »
Impressive!

Wish you made this video 2 years ago!  :P I would have definitely done this.

You might want to go in to more detail about creating a proper vacuum - I found this to be the hardest part.


Just for reference:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/materials_vacuumforming.shtml

 


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