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Upgradeable Sheet Plastic Vacuum Former

And it's fun. clamp a sheet of plastic to a frame (such as a windowscreen type aluminum frame)1. heat it in an oven (such as your fake bvlgari black ceramic and diamond ring kitchen oven) until it's soft and rubbery2. stretch fake bvlgari b01 ring it over a convex mold of an interesting shape (such as a life cast of your sweetie's face), and 3. The whole thing shouldn't cost more than about $30 to $50, maybe less depending on what shortcuts or substitutions you choose, and what materials and tools you have lying around. It also shouldn't or take more than an hour or two to make. (Plus a shopping trip to a home improvement store and an office supply store, and letting some silicone cure overnight; you can use epoxy if you're in a big hurry and want to do it all in an evening.)Here's a movie of the vacuum former in action:

Relatively few people know about vacuum forming, or how easy it is. intermediate molds for modifying and combining sculptural shapes (this allows you to sculpt in whatever medium is easiest, and transfer the shapes to plastic, making one copy or many)2. sturdy custom parts out of thick plastic to protect delicate machinery. (Using cheap homemade equipment, I've vacuum formed shells from 1/4" thick plastic that are sturdy enough to stand on.)3. three dimensional, internally illuminated signs from scintillating textured plastic4. flexible, cushiony custom liners from thermoformable foam5. relief sculptures of various kinds6. molds for casting chocolates, soaps, candles, or concrete relief sculptures7. decorative architectural reliefs, or decorative shells that can be reinforced for structural purposes8. stage props and costume parts in hard plastic or soft foam,9. (If you've never seen a 30 foot sheet of plastic sucked into a boat shape in a few seconds, trust me, it's pretty cool.)For vacuum forming at home, the main limitation is usually space for the equipment the size of your vacuum former is proportional to the size of plastic sheet you need to form. The cost can be under $50 for a high vacuum system for thick plastic sheets up to about 12" x 18", using a converted bike pump, or an electric air pump of some sort from a thrift store. (Such as a kitchen vacuum sealer, a tire inflator air compressor, or a "nebulizer" air pump.)The vacuum former described here will work very well with an inexpensive high vacuum system, getting professional quality results for thick plastic, for under $100. You can soup it up later, if you want. Support the board on something near the oven. Preheat the oven. For most plastics, we can tell how stretchable it is by how much it sags under its own weight. When it sags about the right amount, we know it's ready.2. That way, when we stretch the plastic over our mold, we can press the frame against the gasket to make a seal. When the vacuum cleaner sucks air from around the mold, it will do a better job because it's not sucking air through any little gaps between the frame and the board.2) We'll make the gasket removable, so that we can use different sized gaskets (and plastic clamping frames) for different sized sheets of plastic. The obvious benefit of this is you can waste less plastic if you make different sized things. A less obvious benefit is that it helps you use odd sized scraps that you get from cutting the larger size out of a sheet of plastic. Instead of sticking the self stick foam rubber directly to the platen (board), well stick it to a slightly oversized sheet of something flexible such as thin plastic, and tape that down to the board.3) We'll make our frames out of pieces of aluminum windowscreen frame material, with internal aluminum corner braces. That will let us mix and match a few side lengths to make frames of different sizes and proportions for different projects.4) We'll use a 3/4" galvanized floor flange (plumbing fitting) under the hole in the platen, as part of our connection to the vacuum cleaner hose. This will let us replace the vacuum cleaner with a more powerful but surprisingly cheap vacuum system later, if we want. A more powerful vacuum system lets you form thicker plastic and still get good detail. (If you know you'll never need to do that this, you could just make the platen hole the size of your vacuum cleaner hose, or some attachment that fits it, and glue the hose or the attachment permanently to the hole. That would be cheap and easy, but you would lose flexibility for later upgrades.)If you've seen other homemade vacuum formers, you've likely seen "vacuum boxes" several inches thick covered with pegboard. Don't make one of those. You don't need a bunch of holes in your platen; One big one works at least as well if you're only forming one object at a time, and if you want to distribute the vacuum across several smaller molds, there are other ways of doing it. (Many industrial vacuum formers use one big hole platens.)Thick "vacuum forming boxes" are likely to collapse if you ever add a powerful vacuum system and to reduce the vacuum system's effectiveness, because the air inside the box has to be pulled out.(If you decide later that you really want a many hole platen, you should make a thin "sandwich construction" platen; you can use your one hole platen as the bottom layer of the "sandwich," so starting with a one hole platen is a good way to go.)

Step 2: Gather Materials and Tools

You'll need:A kitchen oven or some other way of heating plastic. Blue Hanger Store). Don't buy a shop vac just for vacuum forming; they don't suck any harder than a high wattage household vac, and they're bulky. (If you already have a shop vac, though, you can go ahead and use it.) Don't buy a new canister vacuum, either; the centrifugal pumps in vacuum cleaners don't have seals that wear out, so a used one that works is fine; it'll suck as hard as a brand new one costing 20 times as much. (If the filter or bag is dirty, just take it out; you don't need a filter. If a few particles do get sucked through it, they won't hurt it; centrifugal pumps are nice that way.)A 3/4" MDF (medium density fiberboard) board at least 2 inches bigger than the inside dimensions of your oven, cut down to 2 inches bigger each way. If you have a big enough scrap board around maybe a piece of plywood or thick particle board it will probably do. It needs to be pretty smooth on one side (the top). (MDF will cost about 5 dollars for a 2 x 2 foot sheet, or about 9 dollars for a 2 x 4 foot sheet at Home Depot.) You can substitute a scrap board you have lying around (such as 1/2" or thicker plywood), but it should be smooth on the top side. (MDF is nice and smooth.)A 3/4" galvanized floor flange (plumbing fitting). (Less than $3.00.)A 3/4" x 2" threaded pipe nipple (or "riser"); PVC plastic or galvanized is fine. "Teflon tape," used for sealing plumbing joints. (About $1.)Four 3/4" long wood screws, fairly large diameter but small enough to fit through the holes in the floor flange. (About $1.)8 aluminum windowscreen frame corner braces, for 7/16" or 3/8" thick frame material. (5/16" will do for small frames and thin plastic, but thicker is better for larger or thicker plastic; small differences in thickness have a significant effect on stiffness). You want aluminum corner braces, not just plastic ones that fit aluminum frames. I use 3/8" corners from a local True Value (25 cents each) with 7/16" frame material from Home Depot, and that works fine. 2 or 3 sticks, 6 or 7 or 8 feet long, of aluminum 3/8" or 7/16" windowscreen frame material that goes with the aluminum frame corners. You'll need enough for four frame sides in each of the two dimensions of the plastic you'll be using, plus a couple of inches extra per stick. (About $4 5 per stick.)1 box of a dozen binder clips, large size, from an office supply store. (Three or four dollars.)A sheet of thin plastic 2" bigger each way than your chosen plastic sheet size, or just 1" bigger in a pinch, maybe a flimsy GARAGE SALE sign or a piece of the thin plastic you intend to vacuum form. (See step 7.) Unfortunately, Home Depot's big (14 x 19) signs are not flimsy or cheap, but Lowe's has 15 x 19 signs for $3. (Wal Mart has them for $2, and smaller ones for $1 or so.)A little silicone caulk or silicone sealant, or maybe epoxy, or rubber cement. (Any kind of gap filling glue will work, if it doesn't set extremely quickly like hot glue. Tacky putty will do temporarily, in a pinch.)A 10 foot roll of foam rubber weatherstrip, at least 1/4" thick and 1/2" wide, preferably 3/8" thick and 3/4" wide. You want the kind that's just foam rubber self stick tape with a rectangular cross section. (See Step 8.)Some aluminum window screen material is also nice to have, but optional. (Home Depot and Lowe's only seem to sell plastic ones these days.) If you're not in a hurry, or can't find them locally, you can buy the frame corners online, and wait a few days for them to be delivered. (Having extra corners is nice, so that you can have some different sized frames without having to take them apart and reassemble them when bvlgari b01 ring imitation you switch sizes.)Another option is to make your frames out of wood. That's not my favorite way, but it does work you can use wooden frames for a vacuum former, and many people do. (They'll eventually char and/or warp, but they won't catch fire in the oven; they won't be in a hot enough oven, or not for long enough.) If you're in a hurry and especially if you have the scrap wood around, that may be the way to go, at least to get started. It doesn't have to fit well, but anything that gets you closer is good. (See Step 8.) If you already have a shop vacuum with a large hose, and will be using that, you'll want an adapter from the large hose size to the small hose size. (About four dollars.)While you're at the store, you may want to pick up a 2 x 4 sheet of textured styrene, sold as a fluorescent light diffuser panel for suspended ceilings. It's fun stuff to vacuum form. (Acrylic panels are nice, too, but a little trickier to heat and form.)You'll also need some basic tools:(1) a drill and a reasonably large bit (such as 1/4"), plus a bit that's somewhat smaller than your screws(2) a screwdriver that fits your screws(3) an electric saw such as a portable jigsaw or circular saw, unless you have the board cut to size at the store. (That's usually free; see Step 3.)(4) a hacksaw(5) a miter box you can use the hacksaw with(6) scissors A portable jigsaw is good to have, but not strictly required.

Step 3: Make a Platen

The heart of your vacuum former is the platen, which is just a piece of MDF (medium density fiberboard) a little bigger than your kitchen oven about an inch bigger all the way around. That's how big your platen board should be. (A little bigger isn't a problem, unless it makes it hard to fit your board and yourself near your oven in your kitchen.)The easy way to make a board that size is to buy the next larger size sheet of MDF at your local home improvement store, and have them cut it to size for you. They usually make the first two cuts for free, if you buy the board, so it shouldn't cost anything and will save you a little hassle. (They don't do "precision cuts," but we don't need precision for this.)Now make a hole 1 1/2" in diameter in the middle of the board. I used a hole saw attachment on my drill to make a neat hole, but it doesn't actually matter. If you have a drill and a portable jigsaw, you can drill a starter hole with the drill to get the jigsaw blade through the board, and cut out the 1 1/2" hole with the jigsaw.(Don't make the common mistake of making the hole the same size as the diameter of your pipe. That creates an air flow bottleneck right around the hole, where the air must squeeze under the mold to get into the hole. You want a hole with a larger circumference than your pipe.)Rather than cutting out a 1 1/2" hole, you could just drill a bunch of 1/4" holes in the middle of the board. (Again, make pilot holes so your holes don't wander into each other.) Then drill a few more holes scattered in the middle of that. (You need 10 or 12 quarter inch holes to avoid creating a bottleneck, with 7 or 8 in the outer circle; for a platen bigger than kitchen oven sized, you'd need more.)The platen shown is actually 1/2" MDF, because that's what I had around. 3/4" MDF is nicer; it's more than three times as rigid.

Step 4: Attach the Floor Flange to the Platen Board

Now you need to attach the floor flange to the bottom of the board, over the hole. (This will make silicone set up faster. Wipe around the edge of the flange with a paper towel or something to remove excess silicone.(You can use epoxy instead of silicone, if you're in a hurry, or if that's what you have handy. In that case, don't dampen the MDF, but do make sure the flange isn't oily.)

Step 5: Make a Matched Pair of Clamping Frames

Now you need to decide what size frames you want to make and use first. You can make different sized frames later, any size from a few inches across to whatever size will fit in your oven. (That's probably about 16 x 22 inches.)To start with, you probably want to do things smaller than that. You can divide sheets whose dimensions are 2 x 4 or 4 x 8 feet into 12 x 16 in sizes with no waste, and 12 x 16 inches will accommodate most RC plane canopies, most full size masks, many enclosures for small electrical and mechanical projects, etc. (You can also cut 12 x 18 inch sheets of craft foam down by a couple of inches, and not waste much foam.)All other things being equal, non square rectangular shapes are better than squares. See how the ends of the corner pieces fit INSIDE the frame material, with a funny groove going along the inside edge of the frame on one side. (That groove is for a rubber strip that holds windowscreen in, and it's useless to us, bvlgari mens diamond rings imitation but you should know where it goes.)The groove has to be along the inside edge of the screen frame, or the corner things won't go in right. It's the longer outer edges that should have the same dimensions as your plastic. Cut four pieces the size of the shorter dimension, and four pieces the size of the longer one. (This will require a separate miter cut for each end of each piece 16 cuts because the frame material is asymmetrical and the remaining piece is always mitered the wrong way.)Use a miter box and a hacksaw for these cuts, because you want the pieces to meet pretty closely. Be sure to clamp the material you're cutting. Pick the one whose fit is best, with the least gap at the joins on both the top and bottom, to use as your bottom frame that's the critical one for making a seal. If you're using a vacuum cleaner as your vacuum source, tiny leaks don't matter a lot; a vacuum cleaner can suck a whole lot of air in a hurry, and keep ahead of very small leaks. If you upgrade to a high vacuum system later, you can neaten up your frames then.)

This step isn't really part of making the vacuum former, but you'll need to know how to clamp the plastic, so here goes:Orient both frames so that the useless groove is on top, so that the side with the wider flat area is on the bottom. You may want to mark each frame on the top, so you don't forget. (For thick plastics, larger sheets, or difficult to form plastics like acrylic or polycarbonate, you may need more clamps. A clamp every few inches is generally enough.)Because our clamps go on the outside of the frames, they can interfere with the seal between the bottom frame and the gasket if we're not careful. If they don't sit flat against the bottom, there can be a gap that the gasket doesn't seal, and if they're too far out, the rolled edge of the binder clip can hit the gasket, which may cause an air leak. (And if you do it a lot, you'll tear up your gasket.)Look at the bottom of each clamp. Make sure the rolled edge sticks inward around the plastic about 1/4" past the frames, and the bottom is flat against the bottom of the bottom frame.(Unless you plastic is just the right thickness, the clamps won't be quite flat on both top and the bottom; they'll usually taper in a bit, or for thick plastic they'll flare out. Just make sure they're flat against the bottom, and let the top do whatever it wants.)Now remove the bent wire handles from the binder clips, at least on the bottom, so that the handles won't get in the way of making a seal. If you do have a tight fit, remove them too, so they won't stick outward past the frames and be a problem.

Step 7: Make a Removable Weatherstrip Gasket

Now make the gasket for your chosen frame size. (You might think this would make a lousy seal, but it works fine; vacuum sucks the tape in so that it seals better. Positive pressure would blow it right off.)Cut the plastic 1/2" or 1" bigger all around than your frame size only a half inch if it's almost the size of your board (or the plastic sheet you're cutting it from), but an inch otherwise. An inch is nice, but a half inch will do fine. So don't. Peel the backing paper off a few inches at a time, and carefully smooth it down without stretching it. (There should be some slack.)That's especially important at the corners. Don't cut your pieces too short, or cut your vee notches too soon. Lay the stuff down almost to the corner, and then cut it a shade too long, maybe 1/16", rather than a little too short lay it down slightly scrunched at the corners, so that the foam presses against the joint and holds it closed, rather than being stretched and having the joint gape open.(Don't obsess about this, either, though if you get it wrong, you can fill the gap with silicone, or re do it, and it will be fine.)If you're in a hurry, don't bother to seal the corner joints. You can go back and silicone them later, when you won't be using the thing overnight. (Or use rubber cement, which sets up quickly.)You probably don't want to actually tape the sheet to the platen at this point; wait until you've adapted your vacuum hose. If you do tape it down, be careful not to damage the gasket when you're fiddling around with the bottom side of the board. Then you'll have less shimming or packing or taping to do.(I got lucky. My Shark vacuum's hose fits perfectly and snugly inside a fitting meant for 1" unthreaded pipe. So for 94 cents, I got a perfect adapter a PVC pipe elbow with a 3/4" threads on one end and a 1" socket on the other. It took a few minutes to find it in the plumbing department at Lowe's, and about 30 seconds to install.)If you're using a shop vac with a standard large (2 1/2") diameter hose and an adapter to the standard small (1 1/4") diameter, the adapter will likely fit right over 3/4" pipe nipple, with the pipe threads going inside the (unthreaded) adapter. (That's not how it's designed to work, but it works.) You can just screw the adapter over the nipple, with epoxy on the threads and around the outside where they meet, to permanently connect them and seal the joint. (If you don't want to commit to permanently joining them, you can pack the threads with tacky putty, screw them together, smear a little tacky putty around the outside of the joint, and wrap duct tape around the whole mess.)For most household vacuum cleaner hoses, the hose will fit loosely over the nipple, and you need to shim it out a little so that it fits snugly. A few wraps of duct tape may fill the gap. If the gap is small, say 1/16" you can just fill it with epoxy. If it's larger, you may want to make a shim out of some appropriate thickness piece of flexible plastic. (Or a piece of similar diameter tubing, slit and wrapped around the nipple, epoxied in place and smoothed over at the seam.)In figuring out how to kludge this together, keep in mind that(1) if you're only using a vacuum cleaner for suction, you don't need an absolutely perfect seal a little seepage is not a problem for a vacuum cleaner to keep up with(2) if you want a very good seal, you can use something soft like tacky putty or even modeling clay, applied to the OUTSIDE of a joint that seeps a little, and it will make a great seal. A vacuum leak su

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