Vacuum Molding Machine DIY




Introduction: Vacuum Molding Machine DIY

Hello everyone,

To fabricate this vacuum molding Machine or patternmaker all you need is:

  1. An old oven
  2. A lot of multiplex 1.2mm
  3. Rails (we used 2x10mm alumium U-profiles and 1x8mm U-profile)
  4. Some sheets of alumium (this is for safety of the machine and temperature isolation)
  5. Some temperature isolation (ex. for ovens).
  6. A hinge

You can find all the dimensions in the downloadable zip-file.

Step 1: The Bottom

In the first part of the build.

We construct the bottom of the machine.
The first step is to saw all the plates in the right sizes, And assemble like presented on the pictures.
Only fix 3 sides of the 4 and leave one long side not connected so that we can apply some changes later on.

Step 2: Fixing of the Rails

The next step to do is fixing the rails. So that the heating-compartment can smoothly slide over these rails.

First we fix the rails against a wooden bar, because otherwise the rails aren't going to slide very well.
It´s also easier to connect the rails to the bottom of the machine.
Than we screw on the wooden bar in the bottom part we already made.

The rail is attached like on picture 3 and 4.

Step 3: The Final Part of the Bottom Piece

The last step of the first piece is:

Place the little stop cube at the end of the rails on the front side.
So it constrains the heating-compartment from sliding off.

Now for protecting the wood from the heat.
We attach some pieces of aluminium on the top sides from the bottom parts.
So the the heat is evenly divided over the whole top side.

Your project now looks like the second and third picture.

Step 4: The Clamp

Saw the wooden board on the correct dimensions and install a handle.
The handle you can customize to your own preferences.

Our handle is tilted upwards for ergonomics.

Step 5: Attachment of the Clamp

Now attach the clamp on the top side of the first piece with a hinge.

Look carefully that the 2 sawn pieces align perfectly for better performance of the machine.

Step 6: The Vacuum Chamber

We used the lassercutter for building a vacuum chamber so that all the parts connected perfectly aligned against each other.

After all the piece's where cut out. We glued them all together so there were no holes where the air could escape from. In the hole u put a cable of the dustcleaner for sucking all the air out.

Step 7: Building the Top Side of the Machine

First saw all the panels in the right dimensions and screw them together as shown on the picture.

Also attach the rails.

Step 8: Attachement of the Grill

We used one of the parts of our old oven for connecting the grill against the top metal plate.

But if you don’t have any connectors to connect the grill to the plate.
You could tie it up with some iron wire through some holes.

This steel plate you need to screw with some spacers against the top side and fill the inside of the heating-compartment with some warmth isolation between the metal plate and the wood.

This is important because warmth rises.

We used a heating grill from an oven that reaches 400 degrees, we know that by reading the manual.
There is a ptc installed so it can't go over 400 degrees.
We know PS only needs 80°C to become weak but the 400 degrees just fastens the process.

Step 9: The Wires

Now the most important step is to wire the grill with the switches.

Watch out! Because when the wires are connected wrong u can get a short circuit.

First of all we got a wire that comes from the plug. (Always unplug when you are working on wires under electricity) The wire goes to a part where all the cables where split.

The power cable (red normally) goes through the part where you can connect it to the grill.
On this part are a few wires that go to a LED. When the machine is powered the led turns on.

The last wire goes to the grill and powers the grill.
For a nice finish we put a little box on the top that house the power cables and the other regulating electronics.
We also drilled a few holes in it for all the cables, LED and switches.

Step 10: Finish of the Top Side

The last steps we need to do are some finishing touches.

First of all attach an aluminum protector that is placed as shown on the first picture.
Screw it and fill the holes in the corners with heat-isolation.
Then attach protectors on the front and backside made from aluminum for keeping the warmth inside.

You can even replace the aluminum on the front side with a glass panel so that you have more visual feedback from the machine while using it.

Step 11: Adding of Aligning Corners

As the last and final step we added some alligning corners so that the plates always align perfectly.
We did this step so we would always get the same results and we would have the least variation possible.

This is better for quality control:
The dimensions of the PS-Plates are 30x30cm.
The maximum sizes of the molds are 25.5x25.5cm

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    8 Discussions


    3 years ago

    what kind of plastic sheet do you use? is there a specific type for vacuum forming?


    Reply 3 years ago

    We designed this machine for the use of Polystyrene but you can use other plastics as well.


    3 years ago

    Cool project! I've wanted to make my own vacuum former for a while. I notice you've got some form of temperature control but you've not gone into detail about that? How are you regulating the heating power of the oven element?


    Reply 3 years ago

    we used a heating grill from an oven that reaches 400 degrees, we know that by reading the manual. There is a ptc installed so it can't go over 400 degrees. We know PS only needs 80°C to become weak. The 400 degrees just fastens the process.


    3 years ago

    This is very much like the old VacuForm toy I had as a kid in the 60's.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I got one of those for Christmas when I was in kindergarten - Christmas 1965 - what were my parents thinking? Hot, molten plastic machine for a 6 year old - no safety issues there. My older sister got a ThingMaker the same year, the one that made the rubber toys from some mystery liquid you poured in the molds. I did manage to burn myself on a ThinkMaker mold before I did any physical damage with the VacuForm; I still have the scar on my wrist. Obviously it was a really cool toy though, or I wouldn't still remember it.

    This is incredibly cool! I wanted to make one of these eventually, and I will definitely consider this design!


    3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing :)