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Make a vacuformer!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX3PYtdTgTk&feature=youtu.be

We will lead the group through the steps to make a very simple, yet effective, vacuforming rig. The chosen design was inspired by this: http://www.fringeneering.com/2012/07/vacuum-forming-on-mega-cheap.html but designed to be super easy to make using off the shelf parts and minimal machining. Instead of using laser cut or 3D printed parts, we will use toilet flange extenders, available at Home Depot to make the base and the clamp that will hold the plastic to be formed (disposable plastic plates work great). If you want to make one, please come with following (again, available at Home Depot):


3 Closet Flange Spacer Rings (Home Depot has "Raise A Ring" from Sioux Chief Mfg., but others might work. Some other types don't have as many holes and might benefit from drilling a few extra.)
4 1/4" x 4" hex bolts [NOTE:  I'm going to look for thinner ones as these tend to bind a bit.  An alternative to getting thinner bolts would be to drill out the holes]
4 1/4" x 3/4" to 1" machine screws with countersunk head
8 1/4" hex nuts
1 1/4" x 1/2" PVC bushing (should have a flange on one end to serve as a good gluing surface, the other end should roughly fit your vacuum cleaner)

1 4"  PVC clean out cover plate (has a small hole in the center that will be drilled out to more or less match the inner diameter of the bushing)

The estimated cost of these parts is about $16.

Other supplies needed include some weather stripping to make a gasket, and some PVC cement (which we'll share a supply of).  Also tape or rubber or something else may be helpful to help make a good seal between the vacuum and the PVC bushing that will serve as the vacuum attachment.  We'll accept donations to cover shared materials (suggested $1).


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  • Craig Z.

    My Instructable was "Featured" (chosen by the Instructable staff as being worthy of highlighting). Kind of cool.

    2 · November 14, 2013

  • Mike

    Really enjoyed it.

    November 11, 2013

  • scott

    Hey. Does anyone have any ideas on what to make? I picked up a heart gun this afternoon and I'm all ready to go, but I can't think of what to actually make.

    November 10, 2013

    • Ben c.

      I was thinking about making some windup toys. Taking the gearbox out of some old wind ups and vacuum firming a new one.

      November 10, 2013

    • Craig Z.

      I'm making candy molds. Custom design your own candy bars with layers of cut cardboard, or find little shapes you'd like to make chocolates of (e.g. small figurines, tools, coins, 3D prints, etc.). Plastic plates are good for this since you know they should be food safe.

      November 11, 2013

  • Craig Z.

    I just finished an Instructable for this project: http://www.instructables.com/id/Very-Simple-Vacuformer/

    November 10, 2013

  • Ben c.

    Thanks! Can't wait to use this simple and easy to use design with my kids at school!

    November 9, 2013

  • J

    Thanks,Craig!

    November 9, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Does anyone have an extra cover plate? I went to two hardware stores and neither of them knew what I was talking about :(

    November 9, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Nvm. Found it at the Home Depot close to black lodge.

      November 9, 2013

  • Mark K.

    All I could find were metal cover plates, so I picked up a base piece that should be adaptable to hook the vacuum too.

    November 9, 2013

  • scott

    Does anyone have and idea about what time we'll finish up?

    November 7, 2013

    • Dan T.

      Hey Scott, our meetup wrap-up schedules are very flexible. Most meetups last 3 hrs, but some folks have to leave after 2 hrs and some hang around for 4. Sometimes we go get food afterward, etc. For this meeting I expect we would take 45 min for show-n-tell, then 90 min to learn, build and run our vacuformers.

      November 7, 2013

    • Craig Z.

      The actual build time (gluing a couple of pieces together and applying weather stripping) should be very short. With everything together and no waiting it would literally take around 5 minutes. Sharing the cement will be the biggest delay, and even with that I suspect we could do them all in <1 hr if we are efficient. So, if you are really time constrained you might be able to glue yours first and get out in a little over an hour.

      November 7, 2013

  • mathius w.

    I made one a couple of years ago. It works unbelievably well! Here is the link to my build on my blog.

    http://ndwdesign.wordpress.com/vacuum-form/

    November 4, 2013

  • Ben c.

    Here's the site I got the plans from. http://www.build-stuff.com/1001plans_hobby_vac.htm I reallly wanted something where the heating was integrated withe the vacuum table.

    October 25, 2013

    • Craig Z.

      Looks like a pretty capable unit.

      October 25, 2013

  • Mark K.

    What's the plan for heating the plastic?

    October 25, 2013

    • Craig Z.

      I've been using a Wagner heat gun, which I'll bring. I tried to using a blow dryer but restricting the air flow so get the air hotter caused the thermal limit to trip.

      October 25, 2013

  • Ben c.

    So excited about this! I am in the process of building (just bought some parts and plans) to build a vacuum former for a preK-5 design/tech lab!

    October 25, 2013

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