A vacuum former has been one of my long term “wants”. I’ve never actually had a good reason to own one, and even still have no particular good use for one, but regardless, I decided to build one (or at least prototype one).
Don’t know what a vacuum former is? The idea is that you heat a sheet of plastic to the point of it drooping, lay it over an object which is sitting on a plate. The plate has a bunch of holes in it, which suck the air out from around the object. This vacuum pulls the flexible plastic as close as possible to the object, making a tight fitting mold. Once the plastic cools and hardens (which happens very quickly) you can release the vacuum and separate your object from the newly created mold.
The process of successfully molding an object is probably a subject for another post. This post is about building the tool itself, and since I’d never built or even used one of these before, I decided to built a rough prototype. It’s fairly simple, but I did learn some things that I’d do differently next time. The biggest change would be when making the frame that holds the plastic. I would fix the bolt in the bottom of the frame, open the hole in the top frame, and use wing nuts to tighten the two pieces together. The way I did it doesn’t allow for much compression, so the plastic sheet slid around a bit.
(This was also my first attempt at making a how-to video for the site. I’d love your feedback on it. )
Do you have experience using or building a vacuum former? I’d love to have some tips and improvements, so let me know in the comments below!