This is less a post and more about just brainstorming some ideas about how to improve my vacuum formed objects:
- Main holes, plus smaller holes
- Perhaps additional, smaller, holes in the center of the vacuum former would allow for additional suction and more detail.
- Taping unused holes
- My thinking is the most useful holes in the vacuum former are those that are just under and immediately around the objects being formed. Other holes beyond those immediately around the object are probably something of a waste of suction power. Perhaps by placing tape over the extra holes, it would apply a greater vacuum force on the plastic immediately over the object, leading to a more detailed form.
- Rigid top
- When the vacuum is turned on, it causes the bottom of the bucket (or, rather, the top surface of the vacuum former) to bow in slightly, going concave. This hasn’t been a big problem for anything I’ve formed thus far, so I’m not that worried about it.
- Build a dedicated vacuum box
- There are tons of plans out there for flat boxes with holes on top and a round hole for a vacuum attachment. There’s no doubt in my mind, that a dedicated flat vacuum box for a vacuum former would work better than the bucket top I’m using. That said, the bucket setup is working just find for now. :)
- Plastic frame holder and/or a dedicated oven mitt
- I’m still using mini binder clips and a bent coat hanger. This works just find for my purposes right now. However, my fingers get pretty toasty as I’m holding the coat hanger. Right now I’m just using a large sheet of vinyl shower liner to insulate the coat hanger handle and protect my hands (a little) from the heat. I’m going to pick up an old oven mitt I can dedicate to this project. It would be nice if I had a better way of holding the plastic than a coat hanger, but it’s the best I have right now and probably better than most ways for holding a circular piece of plastic.
- Also, as a public service announcement, if you get a chance, pick up a foot wide sheet of the vinyl shower liner. It’s cheap and you’ll find all kinds of uses for it.
- Virgin plastic
- Plastic plates are great because they’re free/cheap depending on how you use or source them. But, they’ve already been heated, molded and formed. That means that when you re-heat and re-mold and re-form them, they’ll be more brittle than they used to be. I haven’t priced out plastic sheets for vacuum forming, but they can’t be that expensive.
- Better designed forms
- I managed to design a 3D printable arc reactor with “draft,” so that the molded parts would release easier from the molded plastic. I used a draft angle of 10 degrees, which seemed to work pretty well but still required a little effort to remove the part from the molded plastic. However, I think I’ll design my next part with even more draft; perhaps as much as 15 or 20 degrees.
Bucket Vacuum Former