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12" x 12" Hobby Vacuum Former
12"x12" Hobby Vacuum Former - Make Your Own Thermoform Plastic Prototypes, Clamshell Packaging, Custom Molds, Scale Model Parts, and Movie Props - WidgetWorks Unlimited
 
 


Our Price: $149.95

Quantity in Stock:~ Out of Stock ~
Shipping: Usually Ships in 24 to 48 Hours
Product Code: VF-12X12-VAC_FORMER
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Overview
 
WidgetWorks Unlimited's 12"x12" Hobby Vacuum Former is perfect for inventors, small businesses, and DIY hobbyists who want to make custom vacuum formed plastic parts. You can use the Hobby Vacuum Former along with a kitchen oven and a vacuum cleaner to thermoform homemade plastic parts with results that rival expensive commercial machines. Make your own plastic prototypes, clamshell and blister packaging, custom molds, scale model parts, and movie props.

WidgetWorks Unlimited's 12"x12" Hobby Vacuum Formers include detailed directions on how to design your parts, how to make vacuum form molds, how to operate the vacuum former, and how to trouble shoot common vacuum forming challenges like a pro.

Requires thermoform plastic sheets (sold separately.) We offer a variety of thermoform plastic types, colors, and thicknesses in the Thermoform Plastic Sheets section of our website. Also requires a kitchen oven, and a household or Shop-Vac style vacuum cleaner. Vacuums shown in pictures are NOT INCLUDED.

What size vacuum former do you need to make your parts? WidgetWorks Unlimited offers Hobby Vacuum Formers in several sizes. See the explanation below for information on part size limits and material thickness limits for the 12" x 12" Hobby Vacuum Former.

See the Common Vacuum Forming Questions & Answers Section below for details on compatible plastics, alternative heat sources, and vacuum cleaner size requirements.


Vacuum Forming for
Inventors / Small Businesses
  • Prototypes for Testing
  • Clamshell / Blister Packaging
  • Custom Plastic Parts
  • Small Production Runs
Vacuum Forming
Custom Molds for Casting
  • Candy Molds / Chocolate Molds
  • Soap Molds, Candle Molds, Crafts
  • Concrete Molds / Plaster Molds
  • Casting Molds and Mother Molds
Vacuum Forming for
Scale Model Hobbies
  • RC Car Body
  • Slot Car Body
  • Model Airplane Canopy / Turret
  • Model Rocket Nose Cone
Vacuum Forming
Movie Props / Theater Props
  • Custom Masks
  • Costumes and Accessories
  • Weapons and Armor
  • Prosthesis for Special Effects


What size vacuum former do you need to make your parts?
  1. WidgetWorks Unlimited offers Hobby Vacuum Formers in several sizes to meet a wide variety of needs. To determine which size is best for your project, you will need to know the size of your parts, the shape of your parts, and how many parts you plan to vacuum form at once.
  2. Maximum Recommended Part Length and Width = 9" x 9"
    The WidgetWorks Unlimited 12" x 12" Hobby Vacuum Former accepts thermoform plastic sheets measuring up to 12" x 12" in length and width. The vacuum forming process requires the length and width of your plastic sheet to be considerably larger than the size of your finished part because the perimeter of the plastic sheet is held between two metal clamping frames. The footprint of your part(s) needs to fit within the boundaries of the perforated metal top of the hobby vacuum former, allowing the metal clamping frames to produce an airtight seal and allowing vacuum pressure to stretch the hot plastic over your mold.

    A large sheet of thermoform plastic can be vacuum formed over several molds at once, which can save time and reduce the cost of material per finished part. Smaller sheets of hot plastic are easier to handle and single-mold jobs are typically easier to setup and dial in. Jobs with multiple parts in a large sheet require that you leave a gap around each mold to allow the plastic to properly stretch. The size of the gap will depend on the height and shape of each mold. Tall parts with vertical sidewalls will stretch the thermoform plastic over a large area. You will need to leave extra space around the part’s perimeter to accommodate for the large stretch.
  3. Maximum Recommended Part Height = 6"
    The maximum depth of draw for WidgetWorks Hobby Vacuum Formers is specified at 6 inches, but you may be able to get more than this. When thermoform plastic is heated, it sags and naturally stretches into a bowl shape. Part shapes that stretch the plastic evenly across its surface will allow for deeper draws. Providing a larger gap between your mold and the clamping frames will increase your maximum part height.
  4. Maximum Recommended Material Thickness = 1/8"
    Thin sheets of thermoform plastic will take the shape of tiny details in your mold much better than thick plastic. Thick plastic is better suited to producing smooth-flowing, aerodynamic shapes because of the way thermoform plastic naturally stretches when it is hot. Producing complex parts with tight bends and sharp corners using thick plastic requires a lot of vacuum force.


Make Magazine Holiday Gift Guide features WidgetWorks Unlimited LLC. Hobby Vacuum Former
Make Magazine's Holiday Gift Guide featured the WidgetWorks Unlimited
12x12 Hobby Vacuum Former in their Top 10 Gifts to Give an Inventor/Hacker.





How To Vacuum Form Plastic At Home in 3 Easy Steps
  1. STEP 1: Secure your thermoform plastic between the Hobby Vacuum Former's metal clamping frames with the included spring clips. Attach your vacuum cleaner (not included) to the vacuum former. Place your mold on top of the vacuum former's perforated metal top.
  2. STEP 2: Place the thermoform plastic in a kitchen oven and watch as it begins to sag. When the plastic becomes soft, remove it from the oven. Lower the hot plastic and metal clamping frames over your mold and onto the Hobby Vacuum Former.
  3. STEP 3: The hot thermoform plastic forms an air tight seal around the edges of the Hobby Vacuum Former. Vacuum pressure stretches the hot plastic over the mold. After cooling for a few seconds the thermoform plastic hardens and will continue to hold its new 3D shape, even when the mold is removed.


Thermoform plastic sheets are available in the
Thermoform Plastic Sheets section of our website.

Accessories for this product are available
in our Vacuum Former Accessories section.


Common Vacuum Forming Questions & Answers

What's Included With The WidgetWorks Unlimited Hobby Vacuum Former:
  • Detailed step-by-step instructions on how to design your parts, how to make vacuum form molds, how to operate the vacuum former, and how to trouble shoot common vacuum forming challenges like a pro
  • Aluminum clamping frames and spring clips to hold your thermoform plastic while heating and forming


What Else Do You Need To Get Started Vacuum Forming?
  • A kitchen oven or alternative heat source (see below for details)
  • A vacuum cleaner (see below for details)
  • Leather gloves to protect your hands while holding the hot plastic
  • A fire extinguisher in case of emergency
  • A mold to stretch the hot plastic around
  • Thermoform plastic sheets (We stock many types, colors, and thicknesses.)


What Kinds of Plastic Are Compatible With WidgetWorks Unlimited Hobby Vacuum Formers?
  • Many types of plastic are NOT meant to be heated and are not recommended for vacuum forming. WidgetWorks Unlimited Hobby Vacuum Formers are compatible with thermoform plastics, including: ABS, Acrylic (also known as Plexiglas), Butyrate, PET-G, Polycarbonate (also known as Lexan), Polyethylene, PVC, Styrene, and Vinyl. Thermoform plastic sheets are designed to become soft and stretchy or “formable” when subjected to heat.
  • WidgetWorks Unlimited LLC. stocks the most popular types of thermoform plastic in a variety of colors and thicknesses. The thermoform plastics we sell have been handpicked because they are the easiest to work with and have a track record of providing high quality results.
  • We recommend that customers who are new to vacuum forming start by experimenting with a few pieces of Styrene. This type of thermoform plastic is "extra stretchy" when hot, which makes it easier to form around tight corners and into small details. It also has a large forming temperature window, giving beginners a little more time to handle and form the plastic before it cools and becomes hard again.


Will Your Kitchen Oven Or Alternative Heat Source Work With A WidgetWorks Unlimited Hobby Vacuum Former?
  • WidgetWorks Unlimited Hobby Vacuum Formers require a heat source to warm the thermoform plastic. They are designed to work with a standard kitchen oven, but many customers choose to use alternative heat sources.
  • Thermoform plastics become soft and stretchy at around 350 degrees Fahrenheit - the same temperature you'd use to reheat pizza. Your heat source can be electric or gas powered. It can be an enclosed box, like a kitchen oven, or it can be completely open with just a simple heating element. You can heat the plastic from the top or bottom or both at the same time.
  • If you have an "efficiency" kitchen or live outside the USA, we recommend that you measure the inside of your oven to verify that the clamping frames can fit inside.
  • There are 4 things to look for when choosing a heat source for vacuum forming:
    1. You must be able to watch the plastic sheet while it is being heated.
    2. The heat source must warm the plastic sheet evenly from edge to edge.
    3. The heat source must include a way to suspend the plastic sheet so that it doesn’t come into contact with the heating element or other surrounding components.
    4. Enclosed heat sources (ovens) must include a temperature control. Open air heat sources can control their temperature by increasing/decreasing the distance between the plastic and the heating element.


Will Your Vacuum Cleaner Work With A WidgetWorks Unlimited Hobby Vacuum Former?
  • WidgetWorks Unlimited Hobby Vacuum Formers are designed to work with standard vacuum cleaners, which are inexpensive and readily available. Household vacuum cleaners with accessory hoses, small Shop-Vacs with 1 1/4" hoses, as well as large Shop-Vacs with 2 1/2" hoses are all acceptable.
  • We've tested vacuum cleaners in a large range of sizes from most of the popular brands. Most vacuum cleaners, regardless of size or horsepower rating, will produce similar amounts of vacuum pressure, (around 55 inches of water or 4 inches of mercury) which means most vacuum cleaners will do an equally good job of stretching the hot plastic into shape. If you already own a small vacuum cleaner, try using it before investing in something larger.
  • If you're shopping for a new vacuum cleaner for use with your WidgetWorks Unlimited Hobby Vacuum Former, you'll want to find one that provides high pressure vacuum, which will produce more detailed parts and parts with tighter bends/sharper corners. Vacuum pressure is rated in inches of water or inches of mercury – the higher the number the better your vacuum cleaner will perform.
  • Vacuum cleaners are also typically rated by the volume of air they move (measured in cubic feet per minute.) Larger vacuums will move more CFM, but this will not produce a significant improvement in vacuum forming results.


What Materials Can You Use to Make Vacuum Forming Molds / Models?
  • Molds can be made out of any material that will not deform under vacuum pressure. Many people have the tools to cut and carve wood, plastic, or metal. Other people prefer to sculpt clay or modeling materials found at art supply stores. If you have an existing part that you want to copy, you can fill the original with plaster to make a quick and easy mold. 3D Printing your molds is also an interesting option if you have the skills and resources.


Accessories for This Product...
Polycarbonate Thermoform Plastic Sheets
 0.010" x 12" x 12" Sheets - 8 Piece Bundle
Our Price: $18.04 per pack
Polycarbonate Thermoform Plastic Sheets for Vacuum Forming - Vacuum Form Your Own Prototypes, Packaging, Molds, and Scale Model Parts
PETG Thermoform Plastic Sheets
 0.020" x 12" x 12" Sheets - 12 Piece Bundle
Our Price: $22.20 per pack
PETG Thermoform Plastic Sheets for Vacuum Forming - Vacuum Form Your Own Prototypes, Packaging, Molds, and Scale Model Parts
BLACK ABS Thermoform Plastic Sheets
 1/16" x 12" x 12" Sheets - 12 Piece Bundle
Our Price: $29.27 per pack
ABS Thermoform Plastic Sheets for Vacuum Forming - Vacuum Form Your Own Prototypes, Packaging, Molds, and Scale Model Parts
WHITE Styrene Thermoform Plastic Sheets
 1/32" x 12" x 12" Sheets - 12 Piece Bundle
Our Price: $17.88 per pack