Introduction: My Vacuum Forming Machine

This Unfortunately isn't going to be the  best instructable ever. It's more of a show and tell.
So here we go.

I loosely based my machine on this one http://formech.com/Manual/508FS/Images/508FS.gif 

First off, for those of you who don't know what a Vacuum former is, I will give you the super simplified answer.
Its a machine that heats up a sheet of plastic until its pliable then the plastic is put over a form of your choice and vacuumed down tightly onto the form. The plastic then cools until it is no longer pliable leaving an impression of the form in it.



caution: please be careful when working with high heat , and high voltage.

Step 1:

To build A vacuum former you need a frame to clamp the plastic into, a heat source, a platform for the molds to be put on (platen) and a vacuum source.

on mine I have 2- 4 square ft aluminum frames to put the plastic in between  I made it 2ft by 2ft so that I would be able to get 8 pieces of plastic out of a 4'x8' sheet.

the platen is made out of mdf and 2x4's and 400 little holes I had to drill.

 the vacuum comes from a vacuum pump and a air tank (that is vacuumed down).

I made the oven using nichrome wire and ceramic insulators and using the oven calculator on www.tk560.com in the discussion 
section under vacuum forming (this was a key part of me building this), by the way my name is gadgetman on that site. Mine runs on 220v.

Here are a couple pictures of the platen.
a picture of the underside of the oven.
And a picture I found on the net of how my plumbing works.

Step 2:

if your looking at this, odds are you have seen other home built vacuum formers
but I just wanted to show you one that is just a little different.

Here is A picture of final products and a video of the process.

In the video I explain a good bit about the machine.

Keep in mind this is ONLY the SECOND time I ever used this machine and it is not 100% yet.

I still need toggle clamps to hold the metal frame around the plastic tight and I need to insulate the top of the oven to keep people from getting burned or shocked by accident and it would be nice to be able to control the heat better than just tuning it on and off.

Again I'm sorry this isnt the best instructable ever but I started this 2 years ago, then wasn't able to continue working on it until just recently.



Comments

author
AaliyahR (author)2016-01-10

Hello! I am part of a project team trying to build a vacuum former in college, and I was wondering: what is the function of a tank and how important is it? Thanks.

author
gadget-man (author)AaliyahR2016-01-10

vacuuming down the tank is just a way to quickly suck down the plastic. because you need the volume of the tank to do that. the vacuum pump is to slow by itself. i have seen som people use a shop vac because it can do a lot of volume really quick but you wont get quite as hard as a vacuum with a shop vac so you might not get as much detail in the plastic from what ever your sucking the plastic over.

author
AaliyahR (author)gadget-man2016-01-10

Thank you so much! That helps a lot.

author
EngrDanny (author)2013-11-26

Nice setup! What are you using for the vacuum pump?

author
gadget-man (author)EngrDanny2013-11-26

Thank You, Its a vacuum pump for vacuuming down refrigerant system's such as an air conditioner or a refrigerator. you can even get them at harbor freight. My brother had one at a business he bought and let me have it.

author
DoctorWoo (author)2013-10-06

I've been trying (keyword here) to make one for some time, but I've been having a hell of a time finding ceramic insulators that won't bankrupt me. Where did you get yours from?

author
gadget-man (author)DoctorWoo2013-10-06

http://www.infraredheaters.com/insulator.html
they were about $25.00 for 25 of them
that also the place I got the nichrome wire from it was around $30-40
also tons of info here http://www.tk560.com/phpBB2/index.php under vacuum forming
hope this helps you out

author
DoctorWoo (author)gadget-man2013-10-08

I've actually been slowly buidling one based off of the tk560 design. I have the nichrome, already. The IT department of my local highschool had some to spare that I was able to snag. And that site must have changed their prices, or I was just stupid and clicked on the wrong thing. So which insulators did you use, these ones? http://www.morelectricheating.com/default.aspx?page=item%20detail&itemcode=MORTHRM10001

author
gadget-man (author)DoctorWoo2013-10-08

this is the exact one i used
http://www.duralite.com/store/scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=127

author
DoctorWoo (author)gadget-man2013-10-08

Awesome! Many thanks!

author
gadget-man (author)DoctorWoo2013-10-08

your welcome, and If you like mine, any votes tossed my way would be greatly appreciated.
thanks

author
poofrabbit (author)2013-08-14

This is really neat, I love the idea of having my own vacuum forming machine, I'd be a mess making things constantly!

author
gadget-man (author)poofrabbit2013-08-14

Thanks, for the last couple of nights I have been lying in bed, wide awake thinking of thing to make.