For those unfamiliar with it, vacuum forming is a process in which you take a plastic sheet, heat it up to soften it, and then apply air pressure so that it conforms to a mold. What you end up with is a hard plastic object with an imprint of whatever mold you used it with.
It’s exciting — and useful — stuff, although like many tools it requires a bit of expertise to use. For that reason, if you want something vacuum formed, you will probably wind up handing it over to a technician rather than doing it yourself. That is what a new Kickstarter project, for the so-called Vaquform, wants to change.
Vaquform claims to add digital smarts to the regular vacuum forming mix. This includes an infrared probe that monitors the temperature of your plastic sheet down to 0.1-degree Celcius precision. Not only does this mean you don’t have to stand there watching the whole time but it also ensures that every repeat part you make is perfectly consistent.
In addition, there are presets designed to make your job easier, regardless of which material type and thickness you choose and a few other smart features thrown in for good measure.
The result is a nifty desktop machine that will benefit any craftsman.
“I’m an industrial designer and I’ve used 3D printing a lot in my work,” creator and Vaquform CEO John Tan told Digital Trends. “A common pain point with 3D printing is how slow the process is — particularly if you’re manufacturing more than one of an object. One possibility with this tool is that, rather than creating your finished product on a 3D printer, why not instead print your mold with the 3D printer and then use the vacuum former to create your final piece? That way you make the process of reproduction a lot faster.”
With 24 days still to go, Vaquform has already more than doubled its $60,000 funding goal. Prices for a Vaquform desktop vacuum former and material pack start at $599, with shipping set to take place in October.
It’s certainly made quite the impression on us. (Get it?)