Captivating Crafting with the Hobbyists Vacuum Former!
At GYGO we’re always interested in investigating new and exciting ways of creating your own craft at home. Which is why when we heard about designer Neil Hobbs fantastic Hobby Mini A5 Vacuum Former we simply couldn’t wait to find out more!
It’s no secret that vacuum forming is usually reserved for industrial use, with formers quite often working out notably expensive and cumbersome to use. In comparison Neil’s superb Hobby Vacuum Former offers a fantastic alternative to expensive and cumbersome industrial vacuum formers by utilising the power of a domestic vacuum cleaner instead.
Coming in at an incredible small foot print at just 17cm (length) x 11cm (width) x 13cm (height) the Hobby Vacuum Former is perfect for desktop use. We couldn’t believe how a such a discreet piece of kit would allow for domestic vacuum forming. Incredibly the vacuum former itself is manufactured from a 3D printing process (PLA plastic). This means the former itself is notably lightweight to carry. Evidently because of the vacuum former’s lightweight body, it’s recommendable to clamp the unit to your desktop ensure it remains stable in the vacuum forming process. We liased with Neil ahead of our review to ensure our vacuum would fit. Neil couldn’t be more helpful supplying a customised adaptor which would allow our domestic vacuum cleaner to plug into the unit. Fitting your own vacuum cleaner proves effortless and once it’s tightly inside the vacuum former you’re ready to go.
Incredibly Neil had taken the time to mould us a customised GYGO 3D printed logo (too cool) which we were able to use on the machine itself. Also kindly he supplied us with a transparent piece of High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) for moulding around the shape of the logo. This piece of polystyrene was sized at A5 to fit the scaling of the machine, held carefully in place within a metal frame with bulldog clips at all four points to avoid the material slipping. As further piece of mind the HIPS acme with a protective seal to ensure that the final mould wouldn’t be damaged after vacuum forming was completed. On top of which Neil also enclosed an in depth list of instructions within the package to ensure we were literally guided step by step through the process.
The actual process of vacuum forming was remarkably straightforward even to novices like ourselves. First step was to warm up for the HIPS to sagging point (e.g. when the plastic was so hot it had begun to ‘sag’ slightly). To do this we had to load the frame into the oven and heat it for a few minutes until you could see the material begin to dip down from the frame itself. At this point you have to move quick in order to not let the sagging get too extreme so the material breaks. It’s also recommendable to have your vacuum former activated with the suction in operation so you can quickly maneouvre this onto your vacuum former body. Thanks to the multiple tiny air holes on the vacuum the suction of the hoover is then able to pull the HPS material down around whatever shape is placed on the former’s body.
So after placing our fantastic 3D Printed gygo logo on the former, we then had to swiftly take our now hot HPS and overlay it atop the now ‘sucking’ vacuum former. The trick here is to not let the HPS get too hot, or leave it too long so it starts to harden. Whilst at the same time ensuring it’s evenly placed on your mould. Moving quickly the HPS was smoothly sucked down around our logo, leaving a very impressive final form.
Admittedly this will take a few attempts to perfect but for a first go we were really impressed with our efforts! Baring in mind too that to get an effect like this you’d usually be reliant on an industrial sized machine or sending away for a vacuum mould it’s truly an impressive feat to be able to create such moulds in your own home.
All in all we loved Neil’s incredible A5 Hobby Vacuum Former. It’s compact dimensions hide the fact that it’s an impressively effective means of creating vacuum forming in the comfort of your own home.
To get your hands on Neil’s work make sure you visit his official eBay page at http://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/cathobo