Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Make your own vacuum former for about $40

You can make a good vacuum former for about $40, in an hour or so, and use your kitchen oven to heat the plastic, and your vacuum cleaner to suck the hot plastic into shape.

Check out this Instructable at for detailed instructions on how to make one. (It doesn't require any special tools or skills.)

Here's a little demo movie of the cheap homemade vacuum former in action:

As you can see in the video, this high-tech "vacuum forming machine" is mostly a board with a hole in it and a gasket (made of weatherstripping foam tape from the hardware store), plus a pair of homemade aluminum frames to clamp the plastic between (made from DIY windowscreen frame parts that you just cut to size and plug together).

What's not obvious from the video is that this isn't just a cheap vacuum former---it's actually a good one. It's more capable than most homemade vacuum formers that you may have seen---those boxes covered with pegboard---and better than machines you can buy for $250. You can easily upgrade it to add an inexpensive high-vacuum system for forming thick plastic and/or getting finer detail, or add a standalone oven for about $30 so that you're not stuck in the kitchen. (See the sidebar for a link on how to make your own oven.)


WooleyBugger said...

This is just the sort of thing I was looking for. I'm making motobike parts and was going to pay a company to make a few prototype parts for me. Looks like I can do it my self but I wonder, what types of plastic and where to get them. My part is 1/16 of an inch think and I want to make a mirror reverse mold so the new part is the same size outside as the old part. Can that be done??

intoswedish said...

Awesome demo. I hope you have the answer for my question. What kind of plastic is good for this? (thickness, melting temperature..).
I am actually trying to do exactly what you have in this video (a face mask) but need it to be translucent..
appreciate your help, really!

Rich Gunderson said...

Good idea, and well thought out. For anyone who is unsure, this will work.

Vacuum Forming Mold | Thermoforming Mold said...

This is usefull, good for lego parts, and scale models

heins kellis said...

Such a great and useful idea to show in the video.It really interesting article to make some thing different and useful to every one.

Machine sous vid epas cher

Karen Mcmillan said...

Great that we can make a good vacuum formers
for about $40, in an hour . Nice Blog.

Michael Hall said...

Not sure how big or what part it is you are doing but if possible i would fill the mold with plaster from the back side. If it has reinforcing webbing and you only wish to use it as a mold you can use an dremal to cut them out. If you cant fill with plaster due to the shape you may be able to if you use tape to create a small border around the edge to fill up. If not maybe put the part in a container big enough to fit the part then cover with plaster and cut it out later. Aga8n just an idea but you could drill a few very tiny holes in original part and stick some toothpicks in as a reference so know where it is when you cut it out of the plaster. Once this has been removed fix and fill any imperfections. Now if you vaccum mold this plaster mold with the same thickness plastic as the original part it will be exactly the same. This is providing the part is the same on the back side of course.

Michael Hall said...

Wow so late. 2009 lol