If you ever worked with fibre glass, epoxy resin, plaster or moulding materials that required removal of bubbles before it sets after being poured into a mould, then having a vacuum chamber is a great help. However, commercially available units are pretty costly and even finding the the right size in itself is a problem. If you like me, work on a shoestring budget and need one of these for your small projects then this could be ideal for you.
You can even use this to experiment in creating instant pickles as posted by TheOaklandToyLab:
The materials I have used are very basic however the particular suction pump I have used maybe a bit hard to get hold of specially here in the UK and maybe the costliest as they are a bit of vintage items now but there are cheaper alternatives that can also be bought off of ebay.
The 'Chamber' itself is an acrylic transparent tube and the one I have used, measures: 6"x 3"
(150mmx80mm approx) and 3mm thick.
For the bottom end I have used a lid from a large mayonnaise jar. The top end, as can be seen from the pictures is from a salsa dipping sauce which luckily both seem to fit perfectly onto the acrylic tube. The lids can be from same jars, I just didn't have two of the same at the time.
The transparent hose/tubbing attached to the suction pump measures: Outer diameter 16 mm x 10mm inner diameter. Length can be any length you like.
and can easily be obtained from most hardware stores or ebay.
Summary of items used:
1- Acrylic tube
5- Mayonnaise or dipping sauce lids x2
7- Nozzle of a silicone sealant
8- Electric tape (for sealing the bottom lid)
* All the links will open in a new Tab
1 - scalpel knife (xacto knife-USA)
Everything I have used in this ible, except from the one way valve, I already had so the cost has been very minimal.
Step 1: Preparing the Nozzle
Cut the sealant nozzle as shown in the above picture.
Step 2: Preparing the Lid
Pierce a hole with a drill onto the top lid. After that, I have used a 'tapered reamer' (a very useful tool) to gradually enlarge the opening to snugly fit the nozzle. Place the nozzle inside the lid and apply a silicone sealant from inside to fuse the nozzle to the lid. At the same time, apply sealant to the inside ream of the lid and put it onto the transparent acrylic tube. Allow at list one day (2 is better) for the sealant to dry completely to become strong and durable.
I would not recommend hot glue as the inside lid is not porous enough for the hot glue to stick properly.
Step 3: Time to Test
After weighing equal; parts of the resin into the same container, I've added a black toner powder into the resin to give the moulded piece a black base colour. Thoroughly mixed all the ingredients for good 3-4 minutes which naturally causes lots of bubbles to appear. Time to placed the resin inside the vacuum chamber and connect to the suction pump.
Step 4: Vacuum in Action: Video
Sorry, I couldn't hold my mob phone and work the pump at the same time, so the that part is missing from the video but notice how the bubbles are rapidly popping after coming to the surface.
Notice also, how each bubbles 'caves in' due to the force of the vacuum.
Bubbles being forced to the surface and popping inside a hand powered vacuum chamber.
Step 5: The Result - Before
Here is a cured piece without a vacuum process..
Hundreds of bubbles trapped inside the resin.
Step 6: And After
And now, not a single bubble to be found.
Step 7: Cross Cut
Thanks to Jobar007's question, here is a cross cut of the vacuumed and cured piece with only 2 tiny visible bubbles, that is if you really look closely.
Step 8: Conclusion
For small projects that require vacuuming, you do not need to splash out big for costly machines.
With a little effort and some basic materials, you can achieve the same results of costly machines at a fraction of the cost and keep fit at the same time.
If your project requires a larger chamber the Version 2 maybe more suitable for your needs.