To build or to buy a vacuum former which is best?

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BruceKW
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To build or to buy a vacuum former which is best?

Post by BruceKW » Sat Jul 21, 2012 9:49 pm

How easy is it to build a home made vacuum former and should it be built or bought?

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Kylwell
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Post by Kylwell » Sat Jul 21, 2012 10:18 pm

It's not hard. Tricky bit is the heating unit.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a- ... stic-vacu/

http://www.belovac.com/

The problem with most hobby sized formers is finding a commercial one.
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Andrew Gorman
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Post by Andrew Gorman » Sat Jul 21, 2012 10:47 pm

For small parts I like my Mattell Vac-U-Form. The upgrade parts from:
http://www.gaugepods.com/vacuform/
make it work a lot better than stock, and replace the usually missing bits. The Mattell is small, self contained, and easy to find relatively inexpensively on ebay. I keep mumbling about building a larger machine. The metal insert from a microwave oven door would make a good platform, and an electric skillet a good heating element.

BruceKW
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Post by BruceKW » Sat Jul 21, 2012 10:48 pm

wow it looks doable but not too kean about using the oven. As far as a heat source I would guess it needs to be an even temp on the entire surface? The 2 links you posted got my gears turning. I am picturing a heat source by using a heat gun and maybe a sheet metal hood like used in resturants over the stove/oven only on a smaller scale and a good quality shop vac.

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Post by Andrew Gorman » Sat Jul 21, 2012 11:51 pm

This book has some very good information:
http://www.build-stuff.com/001book_vacuum_forming.htm
As mentioned before, the heat source is is the tricky part. A heat gun only heats up a spot. The Mattell uses a metal plate to diffuse the heat evenly but industrial vacuform machines get by fine with a few heater coils.

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Ziz
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Post by Ziz » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:33 am

I built a simple vacformer from 1x2, peg board, MDF and an aluminum serving tray cover.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ziz62266/6 ... 285857380/

Two general rules -
1) Use caulking to seal every seam you can. You want to make it as airtight as possible every place other than the table surface.
2) Keep your under table area as shallow as possible. Aside from the air in between the sheet and your form, you also need to evacuate the air under the table area. The smaller that is, the faster and better pulls you'll get. I'm going to be redesigning mine to be about 1/4" thick - right now it's about an inch and a half.
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BruceKW
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Post by BruceKW » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:35 am

Ok heat gun and shopvac are out.

I have on hand a small deep fryer with a working heating element coating on inside has long worn away and flaking so it is no good for food prep, also have used vacuume pumps on the job in the past.

will look into the book as it sounds like a good place to start.

thanks all for the info.

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Ziz
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Post by Ziz » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:30 pm

I use a shop vac on mine. It works fine. Just make sure you get one that's the right power for the size of part you're making. Mine is 8 gallon/3 HP and my vac table is about 11" x 14".

Once you get everything running, there will be a little trial and error in getting the process to work - how long do you have to heat the plastic for, should you turn on the vac before or after putting the plastic down over the part, how far do you have to carry the plastic from heat source to vacformer...it all figures into the equation. Once you remove the plastic from the heat source, it's starting to cool so you have to work fast.

Also make sure you have plenty of sheet plastic on hand because you only get one shot at it per sheet. If it doesn't work, you can't re-heat the same sheet and try again - you have to start fresh.
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BruceKW
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Post by BruceKW » Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:13 pm

A sad but funny thing the book that was mentioned I have just forgot about having it :shock: Will read it and go from there. I had got the book around the same time I got into casting and molding and put it on shelf and found it while looking for something else.

Anyone use balsa for a form, I use it in some train projects but find it a bit soft and easily damaged.

lee-georgeson
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vac pack

Post by lee-georgeson » Sun Aug 05, 2012 3:50 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maH5Ech0wK8

This guy shows how to builb a vacuum pack dirt cheap and also very easly too..

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Thom
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Post by Thom » Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:18 pm

I've been thinking about buying one and found these two.

The first is the Phlatformer, featuring a kit that assembles into a pretty good sized former for about 300.
http://www.phlatboyz.com/Phlatformer-Kit_p_10.html

The other, and the one I'm thinking about is the Hobby Vac Former for around 150 to 200.
http://www.widgetworksunlimited.com/Vac ... s_s/35.htm

You have to supply the heat source for both.

Wug
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Post by Wug » Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:06 pm

A month or two ago a member of the Louisville model club brought a Phlatformer to a meeting. At least I think it was a Phlatformer. He painted it as Phantomformer with F-4 nose-art.

It looked like a quality product with a mechanism keeping the hot plastic aligned with the vacuum area so you can slam it over before it cools. I'm about 90% sure the frame holding the plastic sheet featured a quick-release mechanism for lower cycle times.

I own a small metal vacuumformer that requires you to screw and unscrew a bunch of screws to change plastic sheets. You also need to align the hot plastic by hand. :(

Unfortunately, we never saw the machine in action. A thunderstorm caused a blackout.

Mike

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Post by travisc » Sun Sep 23, 2012 6:47 pm

That was my Phlatformer you are talking about.
It does a good job, I was the 16 person to buy one,
it was only $100 back then, but I got a discount because
I also have thier Phlatprinter MK1 CNC.

The Phlatformer takes a little trial and error to know how long to get the plastic hot and when exactly when to turn on the shop vac.
I cut 12x12 sheets of .20 styrene so I f you have a small part to pull, it takes a lot of plastic waste, so I try to add some other parts to the tray.
I will have to bring that to a future meeting.

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Post by E-Dub » Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:35 pm

I built one myself using wood and plexiglass with many holes for the top. The frame is windowscreen edges held together by c-clamps which also serve to keep the plastic above the oven rack. When the plastic starts to sag to the point where it's in danger of touching the oven rack, I know to pull it out and put it on the frame. Works for me but I've never tried anything too sophisticated with it.
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BOC262
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Doug Walsh--He wrote the book

Post by BOC262 » Tue Dec 10, 2013 10:31 am

Check out:

http://www.build-stuff.com

This is the site of Doug Walsh. He wrote the classic book on home built vacuform machines. His site, build-stuff/Work Shop Publishing offers books, plans and supplies for building your own vacuform machines ranging from small to very large industrial type units. In addition to the build it-your-self info, he also sells heating element kits that are sized to each model of machine for efficient operation.

I have no business connections to Doug, I'm just a satisfied customer. I've even called him on the phone (his # is listed on the site) and he has been very willing to spend time answering my questions. Great guy, great source of vacuform technology information.

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SpaceRanger1
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Vaccuum former on ebay

Post by SpaceRanger1 » Tue Dec 10, 2013 2:33 pm

Depending on how big a machine you need, this could be a good buy:

>>>link zapped<<<

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More Ebay links? Please, don't.
SSM Message Board Admin sez: wrote: ...If you want to post a link to your own auction to promote the sale, fine, do it in Marketplace. Otherwise, please keep eBay off these boards. If you really think the item is worth discussing here, then email the seller and ask him to participate in a thread here on the boards.

Here's the Terms of Use/Forum Rules on that subject:

http://www.starshipmodeler.net/talk/vie ... hp?t=37147



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SpaceRanger1
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Re: Vaccuum former on ebay

Post by SpaceRanger1 » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:32 am

SpaceRanger1 wrote:Depending on how big a machine you need, this could be a good buy:

>>>link zapped<<<

__________
More Ebay links? Please, don't.
SSM Message Board Admin sez: wrote: ...If you want to post a link to your own auction to promote the sale, fine, do it in Marketplace. Otherwise, please keep eBay off these boards. If you really think the item is worth discussing here, then email the seller and ask him to participate in a thread here on the boards.

Here's the Terms of Use/Forum Rules on that subject:

http://www.starshipmodeler.net/talk/vie ... hp?t=37147



__________
Not my sale. I have no vested interest it it. I learned about it on another forum and posted the info here as a courtesy to those who might be interested. I was not aware of the rule against posting such links.

But it seems to me that inviting ebay sellers to post notices on this forum is just asking for more spam.

The next time I learn about something like this I'll just keep it to myself.
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wetphoenix
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Post by wetphoenix » Mon Jun 09, 2014 3:12 pm

What horespower is good for a home made box. I made my box and frames. I imagine that canister volume is not as important as the horsepower which would directly transfer to how hard it would suck.

yeah I know what I just wrote... but the horsepower, it's key right?

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Ziz
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Post by Ziz » Mon Jun 09, 2014 4:07 pm

How big is the vac surface area? How big are the parts you're trying to make? What thickness plastic are you using?

It all figures in. There's no definitive answer. Start as small as possible and do tests. Keep the receipt so you can return it for a bigger one until you get to one that works for you.
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wetphoenix
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Post by wetphoenix » Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:45 pm

The table is 12 X14 to receive an 11.5 X13.5 framed sheet. I also made smaller sheets for smaller parts. I will mask off the unused top and rig a soft rubber seal for the smaller frame. I'm thinking that if I get a powerful enough shop vac all the other variables wont matter. for thinner stuff whats the worst that could happen? suck the plastic through the holes.

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Ziz
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Post by Ziz » Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:17 pm

That's almost exactly the size I made mine. My shop vac is 3HP and does fine for making my container top halves - 1" high, 2" wide, 9" long - using .040 thick sheet.
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Jawarob
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Post by Jawarob » Tue Jun 10, 2014 1:52 am

A shop vac can be used, of course.

For thicker plastic or more detail, you might want an additional, stronger vacuum source.

A shop vac in conjunction with a vacuum pump and vacuum reservoir could give higher quality pulls.

The idea is: put hot plastic over master, use shop vac to pull the initial "seal" of the plastic over the master. That way you get most of the air out with the high-volume, low-pressure shop-vac. Then open a valve to a vacuum reservoir that has a much higher vacuum to really pull the plastic tight until it cools.

This link: http://www.joewoodworker.com/veneering/ ... rvoirs.htm shows building a reservoir from 4" PVC pipe and brass fittings. That is hooked up to a vacuum pump to draw down the pressure. You can also create several reservoirs and chain them together to give more vacuum capacity.

So -
1.). prime your vacuum reservoir with the vac pump
2.). heat plastic
3.). put plastic over buck
4.). turn on shop vac
5.) after plastic is pulled down tight, open valve to vac reservoir
This gives an extra strong pull.

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ultron
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Post by ultron » Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:37 am

Hey guys!

a little late to this thread but personally, I've always found it easier to buy rather than build if someone else has already done the work. I picked up a really nice little pre-made vac-former a while ago from Micro-mark for just a bit over $120. The whole thing is in one unit..power supply, heating unit & vacuum puller. The work table aint huge, 4x4" & 5" from one corner to its opposite but that should be plenty if you're not making anything really big. In case you haven't purchased or built anything yet Bruce, here's a link to where I got mine in case you're interested:

http://www.micromark.com/compact-vacuum ... 11244.html

Cheers! :D
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wetphoenix
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Post by wetphoenix » Sat Aug 09, 2014 9:14 am

That would be great Ultron if I was building small. my 1/100 scale is 3 ft long and 8 wide. way too many parts if I did it on a small machine.

Tracy Mann
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Post by Tracy Mann » Sat Aug 23, 2014 4:40 pm

The XRobots guys just solved all my problems for when I start vacuum forming the large Excelsior masters! I am so stoked!

BTW, I have that MicroMark vacuformer Awesome tool for the shop!

Tracy

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