Thread: Question Vacuum forming
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 12:47 PM
WallaceConway is offline
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United States, OR, Tigard
Joined Aug 2011
17 Posts

I had my own thermal formers years ago. The sizes I had were
1'X1', 2'X2', and a 2'X4'. The only real issue I had was heating the material. On the 1 footer. I used 5-100 watt light bulbs. This arrangement worked okay, but wasn't very fast. I later purchased a 110volt counter top hot-plate. I set it up to be about 18 inches under the plastic. Other wise the shape of the coils was the heating pattern on the plastic. Couldn't figure out why that happened. Later I built a diffuser to slip in at the half way point. Took care of that problem.
The 2 footer I used 2 1500 watt space heaters, placed them about 18 inches below the material, installed a diffuser. And that worked right off the bat. Both of these machines I also had a lid to place over the top of the plastic to act as an insulator to retain the heat. The complete cycle from 'Clamping the plastic into the frame and removing a finished project was right at 2minutes. The 4 footer I had a heating element custom made for this machine. It operated on 220 volt. with a thermostat. But because the heating elements were above the plastic I did not use an insulator lid.
For vacuum, I used a vaccum vane pump with 25 gallon storage tank. I could pull about 20+ inches per cycle. I could get some pretty good detail. Sometimes if the plastic was to thin or to soft. I could pull a hole into the plastic. The thickest material I used was 1/8 inch. And I needed every inch of vacuum to pull that stuff!
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