Vacuum Former

by jonny, published

Vacuum Former by jonny Nov 23, 2012

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This is a vacuum forming machine that you can print. Which allows you to make a mold of your 3d printed object. I hope you like this and make one, you'll be able to pour chocolate in your mold or other things like urethane.

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Okay, that's a good thing to keep in mind, I didn't know that. Luckily for vacuum forming the vacuum is on for a very short amount of time usually a few seconds, so that shouldn't be a problem I don't think.

Most household vac cleaners employ the airstream that serves their main purpose to cool their motor too. If you block the airstream like with a vacuum former you risk overheating the motor - up to the risk of causing a fire. So, please be careful.

 It should I haven't tried that but if you heat the plastic up enough it will probably work. A light will get the plastic hot enough to work but a heat gun will get the plastic really hot and therefore you won't need as much suction.

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(1) "stand-holds plastic"-holder
(1) "shop-vac-mount"-attaches to hose
(1) "shop-vac-mount-53.5mm-outer"-attaches to hose
(1) "gasket"-lets all the holes in the stand to be used
(2) "plastic-holder"-holds the plastic
(1) "plastic-cut-out"-template to cut the plastic
(1) "plastic-cut-out-less-plastic"-template to cut the plastic

The three main pieces are the “stand”, the "gasket", and the “shop-vac-mount”. Those three pieces are glued together the "gasket" being in between, you can glue them with acetone and abs paste/glue or regular glue. The “shop-vac-mount” hole (inner diameter) is 59mm and fits securely for my shop vac I'm not sure if it will work for you, if you tell me the diameter of your shop vac hose I can made another stl if you want. There is a mounting piece on the "shop-vac-mount" that I just have a piece of wood in between that and the hose mount to mount it, you can drill a hole through it too and mount it. The next main piece is the “plastic-holder” you need to print two of them and use 4 screw (m3 screws do fit but you might have to drill out the hole some though) and 4 nuts to secure them. When you put the holders together the plastic will be clamped in between them and they will mirror each other so the bottom one will be upside down. Also wrap a rubber band around the posts on the “stand” so you have good suction. Then the “plastic-cut-out” is 1mm thick and is a reference piece to cut the plastic you will be using to make a mold (I used plastic plates) you need to cut one the inside of the line you draw around the piece for a good fit. When drawing the line you need to keep the pieces still so I use magnets, you might want to use tape or clips they should work too. Then the “plastic-cut-out-less-plastic” is the same thing as “plastic-cut-out” but with a 85mm hole in the center for saving plastic and money. Once you have this all done and are ready to make a mold you can use a lighter or a heat gun (both work but a heat gun is better) to make the plastic soft and partially melted. Then as fast as you can put the holders with the plastic on your piece on the stand and turn on the vacuum, then you have a mold.

The fun files are for cubify invent by the way that's the modeler I use, it's really easy to make things but it's $50 on Cubify.com.
Cubify Invent: cubify.com/products/cubify_invent/index.aspx


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TimKoster on Dec 9, 2012 said:

Would an ordinary household vacuum cleaner provide enough suction for this?

jonny on Dec 9, 2012 said:

 It should I haven't tried that but if you heat the plastic up enough it will probably work. A light will get the plastic hot enough to work but a heat gun will get the plastic really hot and therefore you won't need as much suction.

theLearnedNerd on Dec 8, 2012 said:

so awesome!!  --- but too big to print on my ToM :(

jonny on Dec 9, 2012 said:

 A vacuum former that could be printed on a 100x100 space would have a forming area of like 75x75 maybe or less probably so you couldn't vacuum form very many things. There is this http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... that does almost the same thing as my vacuum former.

Roxacube on Dec 4, 2012 said:

Jonny. Hi! I love this vacuum former that you made. My name is Roxanne and I am part of the community management team at Cubify. Are you interested in doing a guest posting on the Cubify blog? 

jonny on Dec 4, 2012 said:

Sure would I write it or would you? I'm not the best at writing so you might want to write it, I'm only 14 too.

Landru on Nov 27, 2012 said:

I wonder how well this works with the printed Dremel turbine vacuum... 

Very cool. 

jonny on Nov 27, 2012 said:

I'm not sure if you get the plastic fairly hot it won't need as much suction so it might work.

jbrown123 on Nov 24, 2012 said:

This is a cool idea.

It seems to me that you need a little gap between the "stand" and the shop vac mount.  Otherwise you would only get suction at the center (the diameter of the hose).  If you made a little lip between the two, it would form a pocket that would allow air to be pulled from the entire plate (stand).  You could also extend your perforations in the stand out closer to the edge.

This could be as simple as making a 'gasket' part that is nothing more than a ~3mm square tube that forms a square the same OD as the stand / vac mount.

jonny on Nov 24, 2012 said:

Done, at first I made the "gasket" 1mm at first but I though it wouldn't be enough space for the air to move around so I made it the same thickness as the "stand" and the "shop-vac-mount" (2.5mm). I hope it works I haven't made one and probably won't because I already glued together the "stand" and the "shop-vac-mount" so I would have to print those again. If I need to have more suction room I will print them though.

outspoken on Nov 24, 2012 said:

Hey, could you please make me an stl with 53.5mm on the outer ring of the shop-vac-mount. I have a rigid 4.25hp

jonny on Nov 24, 2012 said:

Done, the file is called: "shop-vac-53.5mm-outer" the stl right now is the second to last file. It may be tight depending on how you measured though.

BSchuler on Nov 23, 2012 said:

Back in days of yore Mattel made a "toy" called Vac-u-form. It is a collectable.  Interestingly they probably were the first fab-lab device http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

EricYoung on Nov 24, 2012 said:

wow what a great little toy

jonny on Nov 24, 2012 said:

That's a good vacuum former for being a toy, easy to use too you don't need a lighter or a heat gun and no loud vacuum just a hand pump.