Thursday, September 1, 2011

Affordable Vacuum Forming ... Courtesy of

Imagine you need to to vacuum form a part and the only place that can help you happens to be a workshop that wants to charge you a bomb, even though its only a small part. You have no choice since you can't afford a Vacuum Forming Machine, so gritting your teeth, you pay up, or, abandon that step and opt for another method which ultimately delays your project, or caused it to be sitting somewhere in your workroom until such time when it is possible to continue. Ever had that happen to you? In my case, that usually stops a project midway since none of my team are willing to fork out that kind of money.

Well, about two months ago, all that changed. I received a very generous offer from a Mr. Eliot R Brown, an offer I literally couldn't refuse. Apparently he found me through my blog and had something really very interesting to showcase. Eliot owns a shop that literally helps designers, scale modelers, engineers and even chocolatiers with their vacuum forming project by providing for a Do It Yourself (DIY) vacuum forming table. All you need is an oven and a vacuum cleaner. Yup ... you read right, its really that simple.

It is with great pleasure for me to introduce to all my readers,

So what can do? Well, for one, it can really help with your savings.

You'll only need to make a one time payment for the tools, and perhaps the only recurring cost would be your supply of styrene sheets, but you will have unlimited uses without requiring any heavy equipments for your vacuum and heat source, just your everyday household appliances, an oven, and a vacuum cleaner.

In the long run, the savings is immense. It saves you money since you no longer need to be at the mercy of those workshops, saves you time as you can do it at your own home, and well, it can also make you kind of popular with your modeling buddies.

More after the jump

Eliot was kind enough to provide me a sample unit to test out, and what I got was the MIGHTY-MINI-GLOBE-O-FORMER, something to help me vacuum form teenie-tiny hemispheres and domes. I was very excited to get this, though I did go through some hassle with customs as they couldn't figure out what the heck this device was, let alone what vacuum forming was all about. Here's what I got.

The package came in a sturdy box, about medium sized (not too big) but was HEAVY!! It looks disorderly here as Customs had removed the parts individually for inspection and now that I think about it, it sure was amusing looking at them. Its like they were trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle.

The package came with 2 sets of table (the big box and the smaller box), 2 sets of frames, table inserts, 4 wooden base to help lay up the frame with the styrene sheet, 8 huge clips and quite a few sets of styrene sheets of various sizes plus some transparent ones (inside those envelopes).

Most of the tools' were made of plywood and PVC pipes, very simple set up, low tech and amazingly gets the job done. See, you don't need to waste your money on an expensive vacuum forming machine.


And here's something to ponder, the weight of the entire package didn't come from the tools themselves. It was those styrene sheets in various sizes that were the main culprit for the package's weight. Its a good thing too Eliot included those as some of them were kind of hard to get here in Malaysia.

And finally, the instruction sheets, very clear, concise and straight to the point.

Technically I was suppose to highlight how this device works, but I couldn't as .... my wife draws the line about stuff I can and cannot use in the house for my hobby. I have been forbidden to try this out on our oven as she wasn't convinced it would be safe later to cook consumables .... So I have been looking around for someone willing to give this device a go, and so far, my team's wives also shares my wife's sentiment. This is frustrating, its like being so close and yet so far, and the main reason why my highlight for warmplastic was delayed. Any single guys out there with an oven to spare? I might try to get a small unit if all else fails.

Anyways, I was hoping to be able to show all of you how its done step by step, but I have to resort to images taken from warmplastic's website for this blog's highlight. Technically the steps are quite easy, as presented by the series of images below:

And yes, the MIGHTY-MINI-GLOBE-O-FORMER do produces perfect hemispheres and domes. You'll need to create a mold first of course.

Here's a video on how its actually done, its really easy, convenient and affordable : also do have vacuum forming tables in six sizes, the sixth being one that is customizable. The price are way more affordable than a vacuum forming machine. Look HERE for more of the product range.

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