Vacuum forming options - RC Groups
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Oct 31, 2001, 01:30 PM
Super Senior Member

Vacuum forming options

I am going to be building my own vacu-form box to make some custom canopies and accessories for my projects (plans building requires this sometimes!).

I have seen two different methods. The first one involves building just a vacuum box with a matching frame to hold the heated plastic. This method requires using your kitchen stove to heat the plastic.

The second method involves building a vacuum/heating box as one unit. One side of the box has heating elements in it, and the other is the vacuum side. You hinge the frame which holds the plastic, lay it on the heating element side, and once soft, rotate the frame to the vacuum side to make the part. I have no idea where to get heating elements for this type, but it seems more convenient than using the oven.

Any thoughts from the folks that vacuum form?

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Oct 31, 2001, 01:55 PM
Registered User
I'm about to build my own as well. What I'm planning on doing is combining both methods. I'm building the hinged box and will place it next to the stove to heat the plastic. That way I won't have to deal with heating elements.
Oct 31, 2001, 02:30 PM
RPV builder & operator
Pierre Audette's Avatar
Why use vacuum when you can use gravity?
Oct 31, 2001, 03:20 PM
Mountain Models Wannabe
CoClimber's Avatar
I made a vacuum forming machine for my UrbanFlyer kit. It started out life as a vacuum forming table and I heated the plastic in the oven. It worked well but wasn't very practical for quantity. I now have a heater that sits above the table and you lower the plastic down to the table once it is hot. I would suggest you try the oven method for short runs. It's much easier to make.

Pierre, gravity will work if you don't have any sharp bends. I need the vacuum to draw the plastic into the mold.

Doug Binder
Oct 31, 2001, 03:33 PM
Super Senior Member
Thanks fellas, I appreciate the tips. I like the one about hinging the lid to set next to the stove top. I may go that route.

Oct 31, 2001, 04:52 PM
Spittin' Sparx forever...
DougB's Avatar
For heating supplies check out your nearest appliance supply house and get a couple of 110vac heaters from a toaster oven (rod style) They may also be able to suggest how to hook up a thermostat for it so you can control the heat settings....

Nov 01, 2001, 10:21 AM
Registered User

Vacuum Forming

I have made some pressed out mouldings using a hot air heat gun (normally used to strip paint) as a heat source. Keep the gun moving over the plastic around 1ft from the surface so that it heats up evenly. These heat guns are also good for lighting barbecues!

Nov 01, 2001, 12:19 PM
Registered User
Bare's Avatar
IF heating your plastic inna oven is too troublesome, try using a heat lamp above your vacu-former, wait till plastic softens then turn on the vacuum.
Nov 01, 2001, 04:12 PM
Super Senior Member
Wasnt there a guy who was selling kits to this? I thought someone here bought one and posted some thoughts on the kit.

Nov 01, 2001, 05:34 PM
Registered User
Steve McBride's Avatar
For a vacuum table, check out the tool area of your local home improvement warehouse and ask for a vacuum sanding table. Usually cast aluminum, relatively large, full of holes and made for a shop vac to attach to.

Build a frame above the table. On top, install a few heat lamps and make a frame that slides from top (heat lamps) to bottom (vacuum table). The fun part would be getting the heat just right...... A good dimmer eould work. When the plastic begins to sag, lower the sheet to the vacuum table. (this is al just in theory - stil don't have mine built).....

Have fun!

Nov 01, 2001, 06:34 PM
Mountain Models Wannabe
CoClimber's Avatar
If you want to save some bucks, build your table out of perf board then lay a screen over that. I use tape to seal the edges. A shop vac provides the vacuum. Cheap heat can be an old toaster oven. Pull the heating elements out of it. I don't need to mention to be careful about the 110V...