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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 06-30-2007, 04:18 PM   #1
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Default DIY Plastic molds

Heres the guides i followed in making my very own molding table quite simple and easy guides

Vacuum Forming Table


The process is essentially pretty simple. A plastic sheet is held in a rack over a heat source until it bows with the heat. Previously a mold, or "Buck" to be vacuum formed around, has been placed on a vacuum table. When the plastic sheet bows with the temperature it pushed down over the buck. The vacuum is drawn through the box and acts to pull the heated plastic down over the buck where it cools holding its shape.

Dimensions on this table design are going to be completely dependent on the tabletop. So you will need to modify the specifics of my design to fit your needs.





This is a three part home vacuum forming design. It uses a two piece rack that bolts together to secure the plastic sheet to be vacuum formed. The third piece, the vacuum box, holds the buck and draws the vacuum during formation.


Vacuum Forming Table Components


Table Top:

Like I said earlier the dimensions on this table design are going to be completely dependent on the cooking sheet which you use as your top. While you can get thick industrial cooking sheets I chose to use one of thinner home use models.

In order to mark off the grid of holes onto the sheet of metal I taped down graph paper onto the cooking sheet.

In order to mark the cooking sheet at all of the points that were to be drilled out I used a hole punch and dented the board at each of the points to be drilled. The left most picture shows drilling pattern that I tessellated across the sheet. The right picture shows the pattern set against a one-inch square hole pattern.









Vacuum Box:

Cut a groove around each of the boards that will form the vacuum box. The cookie sheets edges then fits into the groove when the box is formed.





Unless you have a router or a lot of time you will probably just use a table saw to cut a groove the length of the board. You should be able to see these grooves pictured left. This method leaves 4 divots in the box, which should be plugged. I used wooden pegs glued into the holes before filling and sanding. The end result that is important though is that portion of the box not leak vacuum.





The mate between the vacuum box and the vacuum hose is a 2.5in to 1.5in adaptor. You should be able to buy them at the hardware store in the same section as the shop vacuums. As you can see pictured I installed the hardware right after I formed the box. This turned out to be a mistake. The box needs to have corner boards installed and it is easier to install the mate after the corner boards.





With the vacuum adaptor screwed down to the box with wood screws a hole of just larger then the diameter of the outside of the adaptor is sealed with a thin layer of wood glue.



In order to seal the area around the rounded edges of the cooking sheet I needed to install the square wooden blocks (shown left). The vacuum adaptor should be installed after the corner blocks as it will hinder their installation. I would also recommend that you do not screw down the adaptor until after staining the box.





As you can see in the above picture the corners of the cooking sheet are rounded. You can get around this problem by cutting a deep enough groove in the wood stock that the corner is swallowed. That approach would require using thicker stock. Instead I installed the corner blocks described earlier and then filled the top corners of the vacuum box with wood putty. This picture was taken prior to sanding, this approach looks a lot better after clean up.



Left you can see the completed vacuum box. A quarter inch Dato was cut along each of the wallboards of the box. The bottom of the box is then glued down to the dato and tacked down with cabinet nails for strength.



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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 06-30-2007, 04:18 PM   #2
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Default Re: DIY Plastic molds

Table Rack:

The rack is formed by four boards each of which are trimmed to leave a one inch stub to connect it with two other boards in the rack. A metal L-bracket and 4 wood screws hold each of the corner boards together.



The rack is composed of two pieces which bolt together to hold the plastic sheeting. Building the vacuum box as I have described will result in the table top protruding from the box itself. The inside edges of the bottom rack are recessed to accomodate this protrustion.





For my vacuum table the bottom rack boards had a rolled area with B, and C equal to one inch and A equal to 1.5 inches.



The hardware used in to lock the frames together is pictured left. A 2.5in X 0.25in bold is recessed into the bottom frame. For added strength a recessed threaded 0.25in well has been fitted into that frame. The top fram has been drilled to allow the bolt to pass though it and be secured by a 0.25in washer and wingnut.



Bolt placement in the bottom rack is shown left. Ten bolts are used to lock the frames together. the outer bolts on each board were placed 2.5in from the edge of the boards.






To recess the metal wells a hole for the well shaft was first drilled all the way through the board. Then a hole with a larger diameter then the well was drilled part way into the board. The well has metal prongs on it which are designed to be pressed into the wood around the well. The well was then placed in the guide hole and wodded blocks and a vice were used to press the well flush with the rack surface. The unused hole area around the well was then filled with putty and sanded.



On the side of the bottom rack piece opposite the metal wells a hole wider then the shaft of the bolt has been drilled to fully acomodate the head of the bolt. When finished the rack top mates with the base through the 10 connecting bolts and is held in place by wing nuts.





In order to provide a seal between the rack and the table top and a high traction surface between the racks and the plastic I used strips of silicon sheeting tacked down to the frame.



To obtain the sheeting I used a silicon baking mat cut to produce an o-ring for the bottom rack and a series of one inch wide strips to cover the inter rack surfaces.






Build a Vacuum Form Table by Ralis Kahn





Materials

OK here goes. I built this vacuum form to make positives of faces to pre paint appliances and take them to set. So it is large enough to do a face and neck back to the ears.

Materials:
Shop Vac (I have a craftsman 6.25 horse power)
shop vac hose to hose adapter
small rectangular electric grill $23.00 at Walmart (it looks just like those
little Sunbeam tabletop gas grills)
Heavy duty cookie sheet, mine is 18"x13&1/2"
19"x13&1/2"x1/4" thick piece of plastic or Plexiglas
2 screen window frame kits
1/2 a sheet (4'x4') of 1/2" particle board or plywood
12' of 1/8" aluminum angle stock
1 tube of silicone caulk
assorted drywall screws & round head wood screws
2 Light switches with plates I use the ones that you just touch the top or
bottom not the old fashioned toggles
Matching wall socket and plate
some 14 gauge wire and wire nuts
2 pieces of 1"x4"x13" wood
(I built the machine out of what I had lying around so this is just a loose guide line for materials.)

The way it works

Vacuum forming is simply heating up sheets of plastic until they are soft and stretchy then placing it over a positive form and using a vacuum to suck the plastic tightly onto the form. I have gotten very good detail with my machine, even pore texture from life casts! I had seen more elaborate machines with tanks, vacuum pumps, check valves etc. I just wanted to test the process and it worked so well that I have been using it ever since.

Vacuum Form Table Construction



(This picture shows the bottom of the cookie sheet after it is installed.)

Take your cookie sheet and draw a grid of 1" squares, now drill a 1/16" hole at every intersecting line. Drill some pilot holes every 2" along the lip of the cookie sheet to mount it. Later you will be mounting the cookie sheet upside down onto the 1/4" plastic.

On the plastic sheet, cut a hole in the center that the vacuum hose adapter fits snugly into, but do not mount the adapter yet.
Build a box 12" high, 19" long and 13&1/2" wide with no top or bottom out of the plywood (just the four walls). Glue the hose adapter in the plastic with some Krazy glue. Make sure it is close to flush as you do not want the adapter sticking through the plastic more than 1/8" on the vacuum (top) and seal around it with caulk. With the adapter facing down place the plastic on top of the box, drill some pilot holes and screw it down.



Cut six little blocks; about 1/2"x3/4"x1/2" and glue them about 4" apart on top of the plastic with some caulk. These will be supports to help the cookie sheet maintain its shape under stress.

Place the cookie sheet upside down on the plastic, test fit, then glue it down with a liberal amount of caulking, then screw it down with the round head screws. you now have an air tight metal vacuum table that is only about 1/2" deep and very efficient.

Cut a mouse hole shaped opening [see left side of picture above] on the 13&1/2" side at the bottom of the box for the vacuum hose to pass through. The box is 12" high so that the hose will curve gently and not crimp.



The electric grill will be mounted upside down 2' over the vacuum table. just assemble the the heat shield and heating element on the grill; you will need some extra bolts to do this because you will not be using the legs. Bend the the heating element support inside out and mount it over the element, remember that the unit will be hanging up side down. You won't need any other parts of the grill.



Cut 4, 3' lengths of the angle stock and mount it on the corners of the box going straight up. The grill isn't 19" long so use the 2, 1"x4"x13" pieces of wood on the sides in between the grill and angle stock. Use the wood to mount the grill with bolts.



Make two identical frames from the screen window frame kits, they should fit over the raised part of the cookie sheet and inside the angle stock. This way the plastic will contact the raised edge of the cookie sheet forming a seal.

Remember to cut out a space for the power cord/temp controller in the wood on one side. Now open up the temp controller/ power cord and take out the thermostat, completely bypass it and rewire the cord direct. Close it back up. The temp control will cause it to shut off sometimes and you don't want that



Mount the socket on the front (19" side) as well as the two light switches. Wire one switch to the grill and the other to the socket. Do a test. Turn on the grill. Then turn on you shop vac switch and plug it into the socket, then turn the socket switch on and viola the shop vac comes on.

Using Your Vacuum Form Table

Hook up the vacuum hose and cut a piece of plastic 18"x13 1/2" place it in between the two frames and clip them together with those big heavy duty black binder clips; 4 on the long sides and 2 on the short sides. Make sure that they are positioned so that they do not interfere with the plastic contacting the edge of the cookie sheet, it will take a bit of getting used to. Raise up the frames 1" under the grill and hold them in place with additional binder clips. Place your form on the vacuum table. Turn on the grill, the plastic will heat up and sag, when it has drooped about an inch to inch and a half it is ready. Remove the clips holding the frame up and drop them to the side; quickly and steadily lower the plastic onto the the form and apply moderate pressure to help from a seal. With your knee (or assistant) flip the the socket switch. The vacuum will suck down the plastic. After about 3 seconds, I turn off the grill and the shop vac will surge causing additional suction. While maintaining pressure, I leave the vacuum on for about 20 seconds so that the plastic cools a bit and does not lose it's shape.

You can vacuum form many plastics, the easiest is styrene in thickness up to 1/4" I prefer .020 to . 060 PETG is clear and flexible, ABS is what Fieros were made of \ Sometimes you will have to drill holes through your bucks for better detail.

Bucks are the positive forms that the plastic is formed over. You can use plaster, urethanes, epoxies, wood (sealed), silicone skins backed with rigid foam, or rigid foam skinned with thin vacuum formed plastic for your bucks. You will need to heat the plastic more or less depending upon the buck,. Watch out for undercuts, you can do a full head or skull just do it in two halves, make a mold of the front and back; cast up some bucks and go. You can make ABS armor that will be ten times as strong as the stuff that you can buy and it will be light. You will be amazed at what you can do. I will take some photos of my machine and attempt to post them ( I am pretty lame with this stuff) I hope that this makes sense, I am the kind of guy that just grabs stuff and builds.



If you want to buy a kit go here:

http://www.warmplastic.com/avf.html
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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 06-30-2007, 04:20 PM   #3
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Default Re: DIY Plastic molds

heres some info

http://www.warmplastic.com/how.html

http://www.warmplastic.com/faq.html

http://www.warmplastic.com/wivf.html
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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 06-30-2007, 04:32 PM   #4
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Default Re: DIY Plastic molds

Hell yes Jesse
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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 06-30-2007, 10:39 PM   #5
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Default Re: DIY Plastic molds

i know i know now rep a brother


plus remember make the box the size you want to make your mold so a plastic fuel tank make it fit your fuel tank
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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 06-30-2007, 10:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: DIY Plastic molds

I can't rep you, you were the last person I repped I so would though.
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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 07-01-2007, 09:44 AM   #7
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Default Re: DIY Plastic molds

Cool write up bro.

Two questions:

1. What did you make with it, and where are the pics?

2. Where do you get the plastic to form?

I apologize if those answers are in there....that's lot of reading for a Sunday morn.

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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 07-02-2007, 11:03 AM   #8
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Default Re: DIY Plastic molds

Quote:
Originally Posted by DougZ View Post
Cool write up bro.

Two questions:

1. What did you make with it, and where are the pics?

2. Where do you get the plastic to form?

I apologize if those answers are in there....that's lot of reading for a Sunday morn.

+1 to the props and the questions

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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 07-02-2007, 12:49 PM   #9
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Default Re: DIY Plastic molds

Ya, do you have any pics of the device in use? Maybe some pics of things you've made with it?

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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 07-02-2007, 10:01 PM   #10
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Default Re: DIY Plastic molds

well ive made only a few car parts and my oven is a old popcorn maker with a redone bottom as for the pics of the pieces they are just dash pods in my car nothing too fancy and what do you mean of the 2nd question where i get the plastic from?? or what
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