Vacuum Former Toy


Vacuum formers are still fairly rare in our community, so it was a surprise to see that in the 1960s Mattel marketed one as a toy. It used a hot plate to mold plastic sheets into various shapes. The design was updated by Toymax in the early ’90s to use a light bulb heating element to make car bodies, like some sort of manly Easy-Bake Oven. The home-built machines we’ve seen are a much larger scale. In 2005, we posted [Ralis Kahn]’s version that employed an electric grill as the heating element. [drcrash] has since built on those plans, hoping to develop an even cheaper device.

[via Gizmodo]

24 thoughts on “Vacuum Former Toy

  1. these things were awesome. I think mine is still in my garage somewhere. eventually I ran out of the little plastic inserts and couldn’t find a place to order anymore. (I had the “safe” toymax version)

  2. best toy ever. in addition to the plastic sheets that we melted, pumped out the air, and then assembled into models, ours had molds into which you poured some goop and then baked them into rubbery things like pencil toppers. the plastic sheets came in all colors, metallic and clear. there are few toys that can compete with tv but that was one!

  3. mmm cancer anyone! Vac forming is a great way to prototype, i am actually surprized that it hasnt been covered more on hackaday. i supose people are more into laser tattoos!

    using halogen lamps work well to get things hot and an old dyson works great as a vac pump.

  4. While branches and other obstacles would crunch this stuff it still seems like it might be an interesting way to weatherize an outdoor bot or ROV on a larger scale.

    -I was just imagining a hemispherical shell with cameras and antennas coming out of it, ala one of the Tatoine droids from star wars.

    That way it could withstand a little bit of rain or snow.

  5. That thing reminds me of the list of the most dangerous toys.

    Toy Nr. 9, the “Creepy Crawlers”
    “Nothing says safety like an open hot plate. And nothing says fun like using that open hot plate to create molten, rubbery insects you can throw at your sister while narrowly avoiding setting the house ablaze.” […] “Oh wait, the critters were toxic, too.” ;-)

    Btw, my favourite toy is Toy Nr.4
    Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab

    It contained real radioactive materials

    “For a mere $49.50, the kit came complete with three “very low-level” radioactive sources, a Geiger-Mueller radiation counter, a Wilson cloud chamber (to see paths of alpha particles), a spinthariscope (to see “live” radioactive disintegration), four samples of uranium-bearing ores, and an electroscope to measure radioactivity.”

  6. LOL! I do this on a MUCH larger scale. We are a small job shop that make things mostly for the RV industry, but all the cutting and finishing is still dome by hand. We basically have two machines with both top and bottom platens, and we make parts up to 100″ in length. To see more you can visit, but what is really surprising to most is just how little of the process is automated. We even make a large number of our molds by stacking MDF and cutting and sanding it down to the shapes we need.

  7. a larger scale garage version of this would be AWESOME for helping to make molds for automotive body and interior parts. I can’t tell you how often I’ve wanted a quick and easy way to make a mirrored version or a duplicate of a small-ish (1sq ft) plastic part.

  8. @twistedsymphony – I can tell you from my experience making many molds, even prototyping molds are never “quick and easy”. Typically making a mold takes us several weeks. It does not matter if we make it out of wood or fiberglass, it is always time and labor intensive. If you have a CNC milling machine, that could speed things up however. We no longer do(a fire robbed us of it) so everything is done with a table saw, a drill press, some hand routers, and a large amount of sandpaper and time.

  9. I made the creepy crawlers as a six/seven year old, without any parental supervision, once the folks watched me make it work the first couple of times.

    Just to make this more interesting, this was while I was a Marine brat in a Japanese rental, tatami floors and untreated wood all around, packed in amidst a few hundred similar homes the USAAF had somehow missed twenty years previously.

    To top it off, I probably wasn’t the major fire risk… that position held by my mom, who stoked the fire under the cast iron soaking tub whenever we took a bath, Japanese style.

  10. Cheers SlurmMcKenzie for the link, was most enjoyable. I am wishing I got the toy in this article as a kid, still I did get a chemistry set with acids (very diluted) and a bunsen burner – had some great time cooking up stuff with my chem set.

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