Friday, 9 January 2015

Vacuum Forming

I mentioned in my previous post that I'm embracing The Shopping Sherpa's concept of 'Finish it off Friday's' in an effort to reduce almost complete projects and generally give me the kick up the backside I think I need. One of my biggest faults is to jot something down that I have seen and would like to try, and then I pause at the good intentions stage.

It was Snowfern-Clover who first peaked my interest with a post about a DIY vacuum forming machine. Oo, the possibilities I thought, and then almost instantly forgot about it when I didn't have the materials to realise the idea. Since it was the largest of my 'to-do' projects I decided this would be my first Friday post.


 Basically it is a box, with a hole the size of a vacuum hose cut into one side. The perforated aluminium top allows the vaccum to suck air from inside the box and therefore pull anything placed on top of the box, downwards. 

You know the best thing about it? Monique from the wonderful blog - Fabulously Small, always advocates recycling and using the plastic trays that you find in cold meat packaging. Reading her blog gave me the inspiration to try it with vacuum forming and it worked brilliantly. *Happy dance*

It's just a case of clipping the plastic between two frames, heating it until it's pliable and then placing it over the things you want to make a mold of. In my case it was a wooden grid to make a seed tray.






Have a great weekend
Pepper =0)



Additional infomation

I realise that my skills as an instructor leave a lot to be desired so I have made another seed tray and taken photographs at each stage. I hope the pictures explain better =0)

I took the plastic tray from some food packaging, washed it and cut the lip so that I had a flat square, slightly larger than the hole in my frames.


I clipped the plastic between two frames, placed it in the oven and heat it up until the plastic is soft enough that it begins to sag (but not so much that it melts and ruins your oven) It was aroung three minutes at 200 degrees.





I place the softened plastic directly on top of what I wanted to mold with the vacuum switched on. In my case I laser cut a fretwork grate with 5mm squares out of a 5mm thick piece of basswood. You can literally use anything as a mold as long as it a) does not melt or react to the dry heat of an oven, b) does not have any undercuts i.e. a flat coin would be fine whereas a complicated shape like a ball could not be formed.





The last photgraph shows both the item I used to mold and the plastic form once it had cooled. I then cut around the tray with scissors.

Hope this helps

Pepper x




35 comments:

  1. Hi Pepper!
    I am not sure I understand but I want to. Can you show and explain a little more for us not so skilled people? :-)

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    1. Oh yea I was so busy trying to figure our the vacuum box I forgot to tell you how adorable your seedlings were!

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    2. Hi Grandmommy, I hope the additional pictures explains more. Drop me a line if you need any more information =0)

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    3. Yes it does! The I look at it the more I understand...and LIKE IT!

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  2. Your seed tray looks fantastic, especially as you've set the scene with the potting soil and shovel. Beautiful work! I'm looking forward to more Fridays. :-) xo Jennifer

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    1. Thank you Jennifer, that's very kind =0)

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  3. Wow, that's a wonderful seed tray! For me the explanation about a DIY vacuum forming machine is a bit complex, because of the English language, I'm sorry. It's such a pity, because it seems very interesting to me :(.
    I do know Monique's blog, she makes/creates really wonderful miniatures and has great findings.
    Have a nice weekend.
    Ilona

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    1. Sorry IIona, I am rubbish at explaining things =0( I have add some more photos which I hope will explain better.
      Moniques blog is fantastic, isn't it? =0)

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  4. Replies
    1. Yay. Ist of 52 week projects complete =0D

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  5. Hi! The DIY vacuum machine looks fabulous!
    And your seed tray is cool! Love that photo!
    Hugs
    Kikka

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  6. When I was a kid I inherited (from an older cousin) a Vac-u-form toy. It involved melting plastic then putting it over anything to copy it. I still remember the smell of melting plastic. It was a riddiculously dangerous toy for an eight year old, but I loved it. Your creation is much safer and very clever. I look forward to seeing your next end product. Everything you create is so well done!

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    1. Hi Neen. I can't believe anyone produced one of these machines as a toy! Wow, just imagine how many poor children could have been burned O-O I'm glad I waited until my forties to try it =0D

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  7. Hi there Pepper! The things that you do and then post are ALWAYS SO INTERESTING! I don't know how you even think of them in the first place but I am sure glad that you do! Who would have thought that this could even be done and then that you would take it on as a project? I'm gob-smacked and your seed trays look Super!
    Clever girl! :D

    elizabeth

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    1. Aww thank you Elizabeth. You're always so kind about my experiments =0)

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  8. Oh! This is sheer Genius!!! I LOVE your little seed tray with the sprouted seedlings!!! (Is Spring so soon?)
    I am So impressed! But I am not sure we have the same plastic material over here... it comes with with cold meats? I would be curious to see the material pre-molding too!
    Wow, this is such a fantastic idea!

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    1. We get a lot of formed plastic trays with food over here and I'm guessing you will have something similar but probably under a different name. I've been looking at the hobby shops and you can get flat sheets of thermoforming plastic which is the same material =0)

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  9. interesting and a great idea, I really must try this,your seed tray looks so realistic,love it

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    1. Thank you Debbie. I do hope you give it a go =0)

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  10. It looks great but you don't say what you used as a mold for the seed trays?

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    1. Hi Elbey and sorry. I've added more photographs to try and explain. The seed tray form was cut from wood on a laser cutter but you can buy ready cut grates made from wood. They're used on model ships for the decks. =0)

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  11. Love the seed tray, and the idea of finish it off Friday. I think i need to try this myself. lol Happy New Year.

    Jenn

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    1. Ha, well I had to do something to get me off my backside =0P Happy New Year to you too =0)

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  12. That is so wonderful. I admire the fact you willing try so many different things. All of which turn out to be a huge success!!!

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  13. Fantastic creation! Oh your seedling tray is wonderful. I can see the many possibilities with this nifty gadget . Such clean uniform lines with it, the ideas dance in my head! Great work lady!
    Hugs~J

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    1. Thank you Jane, I actually wish I'd made one long ago. So much fun =0D

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  14. Simply brilliant! Bravo Pepper, it looks fantastic, both the seed tray and the vacuum forming box (it's so neat looking :D ). You'll be able to make chocolate boxes that way too, and many, many, many other things, want to try this very much, love it! Thanks for the extra pics too. What a great start to the "Finish it Friday!"

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    1. Thank you Sarah, I'm having a ball melting stuff =0P Ooo, chocolate trays...but that means getting to grips with Fimo O~O Uh oh...

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  15. Uwahhhh so lurvely~~~! And professional!!!

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  16. I used a full sized vacformer at college until recently and have always fancied making my own one at home for mini purposes so you never know, I might just do that now! :D

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  17. YESSSSSS. Before I went missing in the miniature world I searched high and low for how to make things like this, and now that I am back- its here! I purchased Tomo Tanaka's second book a while back and he had the same process in his book. Though, this is easier for me to follow since it is in English. Now I need to make the box for it!

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