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Vacuumformphoto6S Neat HOW TO from Ralis Kahn – Vacuum forming is simply heating up sheets of plastic until they are soft and stretchy then placing it over a positive form and using a vacuum to suck the plastic tightly onto the form. I have gotten very good detail with my machine, even pore texture from life casts! I had seen more elaborate machines with tanks, vacuum pumps, check valves etc. I just wanted to test the process and it worked so well that I have been using it ever since. [via] Link.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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  1. outspoken says:

    this guide is a nice simple way to make a vacuuform. however, good luck on finding the electronic heating element that is required. quite some time ago I was looking to make one of these and instead found a howto guide for a much more industrial strength type vacuuform. this one requires a lot more work, but the end results are worth it.

    link: http://www.tk560.com/vactable4.html

  2. drcrash says:

    Even if you find the little rectangular electric grill, it doesn’t heat evenly enough; you’re probably better off heating the plastic in your kitchen oven.

    See the Studio Creations tutorials for instructions about doing it that way: http://www.studiocreations.com/howto/index.html

    For more advanced stuff, check out http://www.tk560.com's vacuum table pages, and the vacuum forming area of the discussion board. (Including some postings about how to make Ralis Kahn’s oven to heat more evenly and get better results.)

    http://www.hobbymolding.com also has a vacuum forming discussion forum.

  3. drcrash says:

    Update: after considerable experience with my modified version, I’ve decided I like it a lot. As long as you do 2 easy hacks to even out the heat, it works great, and I highly recommend the over-and-under arrangement with a rectangular grill for a little vacuum former.

    See this thread at tk560.com for the hacks:
    http://www.tk560.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=390

    BTW, the rectangular grills were unavailable anywhere for a while, but Wal Mart just started selling them again.

  4. drcrash says:

    Here’s another, even cheaper way to make an oven for a little standalone vacuum former. (This one’s a bottom heater.)

    http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=621858

    It uses a two-burner hot plate and four 12 x 20 inch disposable aluminum (roasting/chafing/catering) pans from a restaurant supply store. The only tool required to make it is tin snips or a pair of dollar-store scissors you don’t mind sacrificing.

  5. JackZylkin says:

    I am planning to make vacuum table for silkscreening — the air holds the paper down so you can position it correctly. So, I am planning to build a very similar device, except with smaller holes and less suction power. Kind of like an air hockey table in reverse. Any ideas how I could generate enough suction without resorting to a noisy household vacuum cleaner?

    Also — How crucial is the size of the chamber below the holes? If it is too small, will suction be uneven?