Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

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Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by psychotiller » Jun 25 2015 11:34pm

This has been an off again/on again project for almost 6 months. It took me awhile to find the right oven. (One that would really tie the room together ya' know?) Then as luck would have it, I would have no way to hook it up in my shop without installing a new electrical box too...
Oven 1.jpg
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So I ditched the 220v idea all together and pulled out the bottom element. Then I replaced it with a 110v Smoker Element that I had on hand.
110v smoker element.jpg
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oven 2.jpg
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I also had a converter/inverter that I could use as the switch for the smoker element.
converter inverter 3000w.jpg
converter inverter 3000w.jpg (94.13 KiB) Viewed 6707 times
It works! definitely gets hot enough to heat the ABS to a proper temp.
glowing oven.jpg
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The table is really just a 1" hole drilled through my work bench with a shop vac stuffed underneath. I used some door seal molding to shape the seal around the top.
vacuum former 1.jpg
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I used 5/16" screen frames cut to oven size and then clamped together over the abs sheet.
screen frame and abs.jpg
screen frame and abs.jpg (98.21 KiB) Viewed 6707 times
The process is simple if you keep things in order and time it the same way every time. Pre-heat your oven, place your screened abs in the oven and wait for it to sag. It'll sag a few inches below the screen frames when it's ready to form. I left an oven rack below it just to make sure the sagging abs couldn't hit the hot element.

In this order, Turn on your vaccum, open your oven, pull the abs sheet, place it on the vac table, make sure you press it down far enough to get a good seal, turn off your oven, Let the vacuum run a couple of minutes while the abs cools.
formed abs.jpg
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Now all that's left is to trim the fat off of your new cover.
8s drop pneumatic 4.jpg
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New ABS Cover.jpg
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Last edited by psychotiller on Jul 03 2015 9:07pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by torqueboards » Jun 25 2015 11:41pm

Nice tutorial :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
I'm sure, tutorial on how to make the mold would be helpful.
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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by psychotiller » Jun 25 2015 11:50pm

torqueboards wrote:Nice tutorial :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
I'm sure, tutorial on how to make the mold would be helpful.
Cant I have any secrets?! :shock:

I used wood. Just cut it/laminate it together to the size you need and then sand it to your liking. I also found that if I tape the top of the wood it releases from the plastic much easier. You cant see it in the pic but I put a few screws in the bottom of the mold so that I could adjust the gap between the mold and the table. Without the gap there wouldn't be enough of a vacuum to pull the ABS. Here's a pic :lol:
wood mold.jpg
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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by neptronix » Jun 26 2015 12:14am

Awesome, dude! how was the mold made, btw?

How bad did your house smell afterwards? :mrgreen:
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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by onloop » Jun 26 2015 1:23am

This is really cool! GREAT WORK!

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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by psychotiller » Jun 26 2015 1:51am

neptronix wrote:Awesome, dude! how was the mold made, btw?

How bad did your house smell afterwards? :mrgreen:
I have this set up out in my shop. Part of the garage, not the house. The only thing that smells is when I trim off the excess plastic. Otherwise it doesn't smell at all.

Riddle: :lol: "What has 2 hands and makes wood molds?"
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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by psychotiller » Jun 26 2015 1:52am

onloop wrote:This is really cool! GREAT WORK!
Thanks!
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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by okp » Jun 26 2015 3:09am

really cool ! I was about to do this and make a DIY vacuum forming molder with a heat gun (I don't want to put ABS in my oven !) but I went the epoxy/fiber way.

great work and thanks for sharing. Hopefully oneday I will move from my floor in Paris and have a dedicated area to do DIY ... first purchase will be a DIY CNC !

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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by psychotiller » Jun 26 2015 9:04am

okp wrote:really cool ! I was about to do this and make a DIY vacuum forming molder with a heat gun (I don't want to put ABS in my oven !) but I went the epoxy/fiber way.

great work and thanks for sharing. Hopefully oneday I will move from my floor in Paris and have a dedicated area to do DIY ... first purchase will be a DIY CNC !

Thanks! I want to try CF next. Still a bit fuzzy on how to begin though.
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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by Cyclebutt » Jun 26 2015 9:22am

I'm about to use a word I've learned to hate, but here it goes................ AWESOME! Seriously, this is a problem solver for many of us. Thanks for sharing an effective, yet simple way to make professional looking DIY parts. Brilliant!
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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by spinningmagnets » Jun 26 2015 9:28am

Added this thread to the E-skateboard stickie index

http://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewto ... 35&t=70219

also...cross-posting these two

"vacuum forming" (Agniusm, one page)
http://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewto ... =2&t=47353

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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by torqueboards » Jun 26 2015 10:19am

P.S. Don't use your own oven.

I tried it and had ABS pizza afterwards... then spent 3+ hours cleaning it out so it didn't stink or taste like ABS plastic. :mrgreen: NEVER AGAIN!

There are other methods for warming up ABS sheets which you can check on YouTube.
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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by 2wayspeaker » Jun 26 2015 11:01am

Great work, this looks lovely.

I once built a really cheap vacuum forming setup.
For heating: A box built out of 15cm thick building isolation foam with a hole in it for a hairdryer.
For Vacuumforming: A box built out of MDF with holes in it with a hole for a shop vac.
Results werent perfect, but it worked.

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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by psychotiller » Jun 26 2015 11:03am

torqueboards wrote:P.S. Don't use your own oven.

I tried it and had ABS pizza afterwards... then spent 3+ hours cleaning it out so it didn't stink or taste like ABS plastic. :mrgreen: NEVER AGAIN!

There are other methods for warming up ABS sheets which you can check on YouTube.
Ahhh...Pepperoni, ABS and olive please :wink:

Better to have a dedicated oven, or make your own heater. There are several ways this can be done.
Space heaters, old ovens, grilling or smoking elements can be found super cheap, Boxes can be made out of MDF and aluminum foil too.
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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by psychotiller » Jun 26 2015 11:06am

2wayspeaker wrote:Great work, this looks lovely.

I once built a really cheap vacuum forming setup.
For heating: A box built out of 15cm thick building isolation foam with a hole in it for a hairdryer.
For Vacuumforming: A box built out of MDF with holes in it with a hole for a shop vac.
Results werent perfect, but it worked.
I tried this as well but used an old infrared floor heater. I couldn't get any consistency though and it took forever to heat up the plastic so I scrapped it.
Last edited by psychotiller on Jun 26 2015 11:06am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by torqueboards » Jun 26 2015 11:06am

It was not tasty :cry: wasted a pizza...
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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by psychotiller » Jun 26 2015 11:08am

torqueboards wrote:It was not tasty :cry: wasted a pizza...
Maybe you could have vacu-formed the pizza into a usable enclosure?
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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by torqueboards » Jun 26 2015 11:52am

Would be interesting.... PizzaBoard!
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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by psychotiller » Jun 27 2015 1:44am

Here's the newest enclosure all mounted up on my XT board. I left it 6s, and used a HiAmp Breaker, I wired a charge lead to a parallel adapter and made a parallel balance lead so that I don't have to remove anything to charge this board.
Ghetto4Bot Enclosure.jpg
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Last edited by psychotiller on Jul 09 2015 8:44am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by LEVer » Jun 27 2015 2:04am

Looks great! But how do you know if the Li-pos puffed? Can you make the enclosure clear or have wondows to see the batteries?

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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by psychotiller » Jun 27 2015 2:10am

Pediglide wrote:Looks great! But how do you know if the Li-pos puffed? Can you make the enclosure clear or have wondows to see the batteries?
My charger should let me know if I have an issue with any cells. I will probably open up the case once in awhile any way to balance the batteries individually. I've only had one battery puff up on me so I'm not too worried.
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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by longhairedboy » Jun 30 2015 9:43am

I'm glad somebody posted this here. I've spent the last couple of months watching people do this on youtube. This is how i plan on making the enclosures for my future builds.

A lot of people use pegboard as the base for their vacuum table and also drill an additional set of holes between all the existing ones, effectively doubling the number of holes, then build a box with the pegboard on top and seal it all so that the box acts as a pressure buffer giving you a more even vacuum pull all around the mold.

For me the biggest hurtle is the oven. I need to either dig around in the intarweb and real-world flea markets and find one that can take up to a 22" piece of plastic or just decide now that all of my builds will have separate boxes for the battery compartment and electronics, or build my own oven rig.

I've seen people on youtube build vertical, square, conical ovens using space heater elements at the bottom, usually building the square cone out of plywood and lining it with aluminum foil. You then set the ABS frame on top of the cone and close a lid over it until it droops, then quickly transfer it to your vac table for molding. One guy even had his setup hinged in such a way that he could flip the mold out of the heater and onto the vac table over the mold in one flip.

You could probably also rig something up with a heat gun instead of using heater elements. I have a dewalt heat gun that will easily melt any kind of plastic. In fact i've used it before for slumping lexan, and i've seen them used for touching up the vac mold before removing the ABS from the mold to get any cracks and creases resolved quickly.

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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by furp » Jul 04 2015 5:55pm

This might be a stupid question, but what thickness abs is the best to use? Just found an old heater element (some kind of hot stone grill thing) and got some spare osb and tinfoil for sure.

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Re: Vacuum Forming Set up -Cheap-

Post by psychotiller » Jul 04 2015 6:18pm

furp wrote:This might be a stupid question, but what thickness abs is the best to use? Just found an old heater element (some kind of hot stone grill thing) and got some spare osb and tinfoil for sure.

I like to use sheets between 1/8" and 3/16" thick. And I've found that the thicker sheets seem to heat more consistently. -I haven't used anything thicker than that.
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