Select whatever object you want to copy. Some tips on selecting appropriate objects:
- Make sure that the object is not tapered at the bottom. This will make it impossible to get out of the plastic shell we are making.
- Make sure that the entire object fits on the work- space, leaving plenty of holes around the edges.
- Make sure the object can stand the pressure and heat of the process, otherwise it will deform or melt.
- Make sure the object is not too tall. If it’s too tall, the plastic will stretch too much and become too thin to work with.
- Make sure there isn’t too much detail on the object.
For my test subject, I chose the body of a tiny R/C car. For plastic, I use the sides of 1-gallon water jugs or milk jugs. Cut off the sides of the jugs and clamp them (or hold them somehow) between the two frames. To form, place the selected object onto the workspace and put a spacer under the object so that the final product will look better. Use the vacuum cleaner’s attachment hose to connect
the vacuum cleaner to the 2-liter bottle top on the vacuum former. You may need to tape the hose to the vacuum port.
Heat up the plastic between the frames with a heat gun, or hold the plastic over the burner of an electric stove until the plastic starts to get gooey and sag in the middle. HDPE plastic will turn from white to clear when it’s warm, this is normal. DO NOT use a gas burner; it will catch the plastic on fire, which is not good. The first photo shows the plastic before heating, and the second photo shows the plastic at the optimal temperature for forming.