Vacuum Former

by jonny, published

Vacuum Former by jonny Nov 23, 2012

Featured Thing!

1 Share
Download All Files

Thing Apps Enabled

Order This Printed View All Apps



Liked By

View All

Give a Shout Out

If you print this Thing and display it in public proudly give attribution by printing and displaying this tag.

Print Thing Tag


Thing Statistics

175487Views 11965Downloads Found in Tools


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.

I'm designer for shapeways here: https://www.shapeways.com/designer/jonathanmarch/hire-me


(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: http://cubify.com/products/cubify_invent/index.aspx

More from Tools

view more

All Apps

Auto-magically prepare your 3D models for 3D printing. A cloud based 3D models Preparing and Healing solution for 3D Printing, MakePrintable provides features for model repairing, wall thickness...

App Info Launch App

Kiri:Moto is an integrated cloud-based slicer and tool-path generator for 3D Printing, CAM / CNC and Laser cutting. *** 3D printing mode provides model slicing and GCode output using built-in...

App Info Launch App
KiriMoto Thing App

With 3D Slash, you can edit 3d models like a stonecutter. A unique interface: as fun as a building game! The perfect tool for non-designers and children to create in 3D.

App Info Launch App

Print through a distributed network of 3D printing enthusiasts from across the US, at a fraction of the cost of the competitors. We want to change the world for the better through technology, an...

App Info Launch App

Quickly Scale, Mirror or Cut your 3D Models

App Info Launch App

3D Print a wide range of designs with Treatstock. Easy to use tools to get the perfect result. The global 3D printing network that connects you with high-quality and fast working print services nea...

App Info Launch App

What material did you make it out of abs,

I made it out of abs.

you should make a video of the assembly process and of it working.

A lot of time and work was put into this project, but, like some items I've seen on this site, this could be made larger and better if you made it out of wood. I built one 12 x 10" from a couple pieces of scrap wood I had lying around in about 30 minutes total, design and construction included. Use a piece of pegboard as the platten. 3D printers are awesome, but some things are easier to build and end up better if made by traditional means.


plastic sheets available here: http://www.warmplastic.com/

staple the plastic to the frame, pop in the oven to heat. works like a champ. I used it to form the oval-shaped piece that covers the skull between deer antlers.

but then you have to buy wood pieces and perf board or drill wood holes, cut them to shapes, glue an nail it together. what major pain compared to leting the 3d printer do the work.

Kind of zombie-ing here, but thanks for this. I'm just about to buy a full sheet of pegboard and will have a bunch of leftovers, so this is a great use for some of that.

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

 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.

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.

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.

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

 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/thing:31581http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... that does almost the same thing as my vacuum former.

Parametric two-part mold generator for OpenSCAD

site gone

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? 

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.

It is ok. :)  We think that your vacuum former is awesome. You can just throw together a few sentences on how you made this, why you made it, and tips for anyone that wants to make it. You can mention the Invent from Cubify and anything you found helpful. We only say your name is Jonny and can say you are 14 and there is no private info about you revealed. But your post would be edited here at Cubify and we would post it on the Cubify Blog which you can find on the website.  Write it all up and send it off to me at  -->   [email protected]

 Did you get my email?

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

Very cool. 

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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=aat5m46RE1shttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

wow what a great little toy

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.