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DIY Vacuum Forming Machine

02 Oct

source: http://www.build-stuff.com/1002plans_proto-form.htm

Excerpt (Click On Link For Full Article)


 Vacuum Forming Machines

What does it do ?

“Vacuum Forming” or “Thermoforming” is a simple process where you take a flat plastic sheet, and heat it until it’s soft. Then you stretch it over a mold or pattern, and suck it down tightly with vacuum. The plastic cools quickly and retains that shape. Vacuum forming is ideal whenever you need a “shell” type plastic part with uniform wall thickness. You can form over wood, plaster and many other materials. (See sample parts below…

How Does it Work?

Lets go through the process, (refer to the drawing above).  Clip a plastic sheet into the carrier frame and raise the lift handle until it locks. This raises the plastic to the overhead oven where it will heat until it gets soft. Place your mold or pattern anywhere on the perforated forming surface below, (also called the Platen). When the plastic has the correct amount of sag or droop, its ready to form. Lower the handle to bring the soft plastic down and stretch it over your mold. When the handle is all the way down, open the dump valve to release the stored vacuum and suck the plastic down tightly. The plastic cools quickly and the part can be removed. Load another sheet and do it again. The typical cycle time ranges from 1 to 5 minutes depending on plastic thickness. Form up to 1/4 inch thick sheets!)

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13 Comments

Posted by on October 2, 2007 in DIY, Fabrication, Recreation

 

13 responses to “DIY Vacuum Forming Machine

  1. Dav

    January 28, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Have you done much vacuum forming? I’d like to try but I can’t figure out what type of plastic to use. I’m trying to make a series of plastic concrete molds but every company website I visit seems to have so many choices I just get lost!

     
  2. plasticguy

    January 28, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    when you say concrete molds, are you talking about garden-gnomish thingees?

    or are you talking about actual concrete structural forms? these are made from polypropylene

    typical vacuum form materials are PETG (copolyester), Acrylic, and Polycarbonate

    but it all comes down to the application

    if your going to be banging out the end-products then I’d try polycarbonate BUT you have to dry out the moister before you pull down the material

     
  3. herm

    January 28, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    Hi there,

    I used to use an industrial vacuumformer back in university, but since i’m unable to access this machine anymore, i built my own a while back.

    If you are looking for easy material to work with (like for castingdyes), PolyStyrene is a good choice; it is not super tough, but very easy to form, because it can be welded using TriChloreEthene (TRI) it is what i use for molds, models and prototypes most of the time.

    If you are working on a vacuumformed endproduct you might want a more specific plastic; ABS is very strong, while PolyCarbonate (PC) and Acrylic (PMMA) are perfect if hardness is required. PolyPropylene (PP) can be used for a more flexible product.

    Plasticguy is right in the fact that PETG can be used as well.
    However, as far as i know, PETG is a type of PolyEthylene and not a polyesther.

    Polyesther, is a “thermoharder” (a category of plastics that, when heated, will NOT soften or melt, before burning). Thermoharders are unsuitable for vacuumforming since they cannot deform.

    Vacuumforming requires any kind of “thermoplast” (when heated, these plastics will soften and melt prior to burning so they can form around your dye. PS, PC, PMMA, PP and PE are all thermoplasts.

    Good luck on your project.

     
  4. plasticguy

    January 30, 2008 at 9:29 am

    PETG, glycol-modified polyethylene terephthalate, is a copolyester that is a clear amorphous thermoplastic.

     
  5. moe

    November 19, 2008 at 10:29 am

    hello sir

    i have many question about recycle of plastic .
    how they can do that ?
    when the recycle finish how the product look like ( column or small peaces ) ?
    if i need to use this recycled plastic in new forming where i can go to do ?
    and can i make control with the colour ? and can i make it healthy for use ?
    i need to know every thing about hyow i can use the recycled plastic and the prices of forming …..

    many question i know but that cus i like this idea and maybe i will make different in this field

    thanks alot

     
  6. plasticguy

    November 19, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Some plastics can be recycled and others can’t.

    You, personally, can’t control the color. It’s all done at the manufacturing end… the used plastic is ground up into small beads of resin and then dropped in a hopper and pushed through some kind of die or mould to form its shape.

    That said, there are some recycled plastics where the manufacture hasn’t separated the various colors and out comes a mosaic or marbled look.

    As far as vacuum forming, you’re generally restricted to these plastics:

    Acrylic
    Polycarbonate
    PET G
    Special grades of Nylon
    Special grades of HDPE

    Look in the yellow pages under PLASTIC SHEET, ROD, & TUBE – you’ll find a distributor who can help you out getting stock…

     
  7. katherine

    January 13, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    I am working on fabrication projects with 7- 18 yr old youth. I wanted to know if you had any project ideas for vacuum forming we could explore?-Katherine

     
  8. rythwi

    January 20, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Hi,
    I have a question regarding DIY vacuum forming and the thickness of plastic used.

    I purchased 2 ABS sheets to use for my DIY vacuum forming, one is around .06″ and the other is .09″.

    I am afraid that .09 may be too thick for my DIY set up. I just want to know how thick I could go with the sheet.

     
  9. Wayne Britt

    March 21, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Hello: I was wondering if you have any experience in getting two layers of petg to form together?I am working with different thickness of material anywhere from appoximately 1/8 inch to 1/2 inch.And if you have what type of machine was used?

     
  10. Lisa

    March 27, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Hey,

    I am going attempt to vacuum form my product which is an ice bucket. I am confused as to what type of mold material I should use. I need something that is cost effective yet will still let me get a good number of pieces out of it. Any suggestions? Do you know of any companies that make reasonably priced molds? Also, I am looking to purchase a used vacuum forming machine that can form a piece that is about 16″ deep and 8″ round. Do you of any resources that list that sort of thing? Any help you can give me would be much appreciated. Thanks.

     
  11. DEEPAK P. WAGHE

    October 5, 2009 at 3:53 am

    Dear Sir,
    Please Quote your Vaccume Forming Machine .

    Thanking you,

     
  12. Greg

    February 12, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    I want to make a canopy for my Remote control airplane using PETG clear plastic. the size has to be appx. 9″long 4″ wide 5″ tall. mostly all curved surfaces. What I need to know is how do you tell what thickness and what width and length of a sheet of plastic to use to make it pull down without splitting or tearing. I keep reading about the process but not finding out how much the plastic will actually stretch. I have a piece thats 16″x 12″ and would rather not ruin a good peice just as an experiment. any advice would be helpful. Thanks!!

     
  13. Greg

    February 12, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    I want to make a canopy for my Remote control airplane using PETG clear plastic. the size has to be appx. 9″long 4″ wide 5″ tall. mostly all curved surfaces. What I need to know is how do you tell what thickness and what width and length of a sheet of plastic to use to make it pull down without splitting or tearing. I keep reading about the process but not finding out how much the plastic will actually stretch. I have a piece thats 16″x 12″ and would rather not ruin a good peice just as an experiment. any advice would be helpful. sorry for the repost but the piece I have is .030 thick Thanks!!

     

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