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Vacuum Forming ?????

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  • Vacuum Forming ?????

    I have been internet searching for info on "Vacuum Forming" plastic.... it seems like a garage type project..... but I don't yet have a real good understanding of it's capabilities....

    Has anybody tried it or seen some good web pages with results????

    Just curious....

  • #2
    I've seen it done a few times. Depending on the shape of your mold, it can be relatively simple/cheap.

    You can produce very complex parts, or high volume of parts with vacuum forming. But, of course, it will cost you.

    What size and shape are you trying to produce?

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    • #3
      Yeah we used to so that at secondry school in tech. Not a bad result but the vacume machine we used was a little on the puss side so we were restricted to use fairly thin plastics. If thats all u have to work with, dont bother.

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      • #4
        i've been interested in this, too. sometimes you can find complete setups on ebay for pretty cheap. about $200. some of them are capable of using up to 1/4" abs plastic, i believe.

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        • #5
          We did it in secondary school too. We had quite a nice vacume, but it could only do a certain thickness which was pretty thin. The problems people were having was making sharp objects that puntured the plastic, when this happened it destroyed thier whole project.
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          • #6
            You may also look into Thermoforming. We did that a bit in college, I think the machine is rather expensive, but there are probably local shops near you with the equipment, and all you have to do is make a wood mold of the shape you want. Also, you can't have any negave shapes, because the plastic gets stretched over the mold.

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            • #7
              The ones that can form the thickest plastic use pressure on one side, and vacuum on the other.

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              • #8
                I used to do quite a bit of vacuum forming a few years back. IMO, it isn't really a project you want to do in your garage... at least NOT the forming. YOu can make your molds out of wood or epoxies and then look for a local shop that has the equipment to do the actual forming. Just depends on what your project is and how many pieces you plan to run. Most shops have a set-up charge for putting the molds into their machine (usually $100 give or take). Then they charge per pull... you can set up trim fixtures to do in your garage as well... the reason I say its not a garage project is that in order to pull a decent thickness to be structural, you need a decent vacuum pump... and a decent size oven. Sharp corners can be delt with by a good shop by pre-stretching before actually pulling the part. As for negative spaces... it CAN be done and I've seen some pretty complex peices... it takes multi-part molds that you have to basically disasemble each time you pull a part... time consuming and not really cost effective. Just for the record, a couple of my projects I have done that were mass-produced were for the F-body... 98-02 Firebird and Trans Am clear license plate cover (multi piece mold, with hinge for negative draw) and also a sub enclosure for 93-02 Firebird and Camaro that replaced the spare tire... with stock looking cover panel. Anyway... I know... too much information I'm sure... if you have specific questions... feel free to ask...

                TTYL!

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                • #9
                  u can make a mould and stick it in the oven with some plastic on top..
                  dont have a high heat, has to be pretty low and the plastic should melt and form to the shape under it..
                  it should be low enuf that u can still use a wood mould without it burning.
                  with clear plastics u will get little bubles in it but with any opaque plstic it would look alright.
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                  • #10
                    Yeah, you can have depressions in vac formed parts. It is not a problem. The company for which I work has many parts produced via vac forming, that have depressions.

                    Quote:
                    "u can make a mould and stick it in the oven with some plastic on top..
                    dont have a high heat, has to be pretty low and the plastic should melt and form to the shape under it..
                    it should be low enuf that u can still use a wood mould without it burning.
                    with clear plastics u will get little bubles in it but with any opaque plstic it would look alright."

                    I worked at a deli, when I was in high school, and we had a convection oven in which I would make homemade "shrinky dinks" (remember those?). I would take those metal take out containers with the plastic lids (like the kind you'd get at most Chinese food places) and put the base with the lid on it, in the oven. It would shrink in a matter of seconds, to a perfect mini version - but flat. We would take a Sharpie and write on it first and then shrink it... it was fun... How does that relate to this topic....

                    /end recollection sequence


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                    • #11
                      This the same as vacuum baging?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by zijester
                        This the same as vacuum baging?
                        No, I don't think so.

                        I think vac bagging is for fiberglassing in a mould.

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                        • #13
                          You can build your own vacuum forming table. See this link, not car related but the applied knowledge is the same. http://www.studiocreations.com/howto/index.html

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ncruzer
                            You can build your own vacuum forming table. See this link, not car related but the applied knowledge is the same. http://www.studiocreations.com/howto/index.html
                            That's an awesome link man. Impressive how well that mask came out.

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