A vacuum former is a very useful tool in many areas of industry. This article will show you several facts about vacuum formers that you may not have been aware of.
The 6 Stages of Vacuum Forming
In vacuum forming there are only 6 steps or stages to the process:
- A suitable mould is carved or purchased
- The mould is placed inside the vacuum former
- A plastic sheet is clamped securely above the mould
- The heater is turned on to heat the plastic
- The plastic becomes flexible
- The air is sucked out from under the plastic and mould
Vacuum Forming in Entertainment
I know most of us would like to think there are hundreds of craftsmen and artisans slaving away on big budget Hollywood movies. In order to create realistic armor and weapons for fantasy, horror and science fiction movies artists use vacuum forming and paint. They first have to carve out a 3D mould of what the finished product will look like. Be it an alien guard covered form head to toe with armor or a Roman Field General in full battle gear all can be vacuum formed. The thin plastic sheets are fastened to a frame and heated then slowly lowered over the mould as the vacuum removes the air. The finished product looks like the model and just needs to be trimmed and painted.
Vacuum Forming in Industry
Using plastics has been a staple of our society for a very long time. Big industry relies on vacuum forming to give us many things you may take for granted if they were not around. Items like plastic cups, plates, bowls and even shaped candy can all be attributed to vacuum forming.
Large and Small Scale Vacuum Forming
The only limitation to what you can vacuum form is in your own imagination. With the invention of a suitable heating element and a strong vacuum system we can now use vacuum forming for creating large items. There are aircrafts that can be purchased made by vacuum forming. On the same hand plastic model kits are also made from vacuum forming.
You Can Vacuum Form Yourself
Think of vacuum forming as you once did about screenprinting. It looked so difficult and impossible to do it on your own but now there are kits you can purchase to do just that. You can build your own vacuum form table out of spare wood, a hair dryer and an old vacuum cleaner. You can purchase the appropriate sheets of plastic at most art supply stores. Anything you own can potentially be a mould as long as it is properly greased so the plastic will not stick to it. There are many books in your public library on the subject as well as many Internet resources.
Can Not be Completely Vertical
When the plastic is sucked to the mould it forms a very tight fit to the shape. A perfectly vertical side would create too much friction and you could not remove the plastic. The solution? Use rubber moulds instead of something harder because they are flexible allowing you to break the suction.