Vacuum Forming Info


Well-Known Member
Well, it looks like that long vacuum forming thread dropped off the board. Too bad, as there was a lot of techincal info on how to make your own vacuum form machine.

The good news, I made an online journal of my experiences making a vacuum form machine, based on the Thurston James model. is my link.

The Prop Builder's Molding and Casting Handbook is a must have. You can get it from

There are a lot of folks that helped me along, and their input was very helpful. Too bad that thread is now gone. :(

I thought I'd start this thread and if anyone has tips for the DIY vacuum former, this might be a good place to put it.

In reality the vac forming technolog is really basic. You need to be able heat a sheet of plastic to forming temp, then hold it over a rigid mold, then pull the plastic down, and onto the mold long enough for the plastic to cool. My machine uses mostly off the shelf materials available at most building supply stores, and only requires special wire for the oven, and ceramic posts that are available online.

Total cost, somewhere around $200 and that includes a shop vac. I know Starkids1990 made his from stuff he had on hand, for almost no money, and from a shop vac he found in the dumpster. Blaxmyth, the guy that got me started vacuum forming in the first place, taught me how to make my molds from MDF plywood, and ANH Trooper has made his machine from a gas burning heater. I know there are others that have made their own, and are using them to make some really cool stuff.

My machine can pull up to .125 acrylic from a 24x24 inch sheet of plastic, and can have a mold depth of 13 inches. It can heat a sheet of .040 HIPs in under a minute, and runs off a 110v 30amp circuit.

I've also created a discussion board dealing with some other technical details. check it out. There are some pretty geeky facts about ohms, amps volts and other technical jargon that will help you design your own machine.