3D printers are the tool of choice for all the hackerspaces we’ve been to, and laser cutters take a close second. There’s another class of plastic manipulating machines that doesn’t get enough credit with the hackerspace crowd – the vacuum thermoformer. Surprisingly, there haven’t been many – if any – vacuum formers on Kickstarter. Until now, that is.

[Ben] and [Calvin] are the guys behind the MOFO, and built their machine around ease of use and reliability. After a few prototypes, they settled on their design of aluminum extrusion for the frame, a ceramic heating element for the heater, and an off-the-shelf PID controller for the electronics.

The MOFO has so far been tested with polycarbonate, acrylic, PETG and styrene with good results. The Kickstarter has reward levels of $500 for a 12″x12″ work area, and $1000 for a 24″x24″ work area. That’s not too bad, and building your own similar thermoformer would probably cost just as much. Just the thing if you need to print out a few dozen sets of storm trooper armor.


24 thoughts on “TherMOFOrmer

  1. Just a tip to those who would be interested in marketing things like this, including “MOFO” in your product’s title will alienate some potential customers. I would recommend this to my dad, but I don’t think he’d want something that says mofo sitting around his work space.

      1. Everybody wants a good MoFo lawyer, but I always get rid of MoFo tools.
        That said, the Kickstarter video was hilarious and shows a good team comfortable working together. (Watch Ben’s and Carl’s mouths as the other is speaking.)

        1. Trooper & trouper are two different things.

          It’s storm trooper regardless of where you live: “That storm trooper is a real trouper”.

          Sorry about grammar Nazi-ing you’re grammer nazi.

  2. really dis-appointing that HaD keeps promoting rubbish. This project has no real innovation, minimal features and seriously over priced. Just look on instructables to find guides for better machines for a quarter the price you can make in a few hours…. Now if it supported variable work area, had positive and negative pressure (air tool compressor connection) and automatic heat up to pre-set surface temp (IR thermometer and SSR)… then it might be worth $500

  3. I work out of the Artisan’s Asylum makerspace in Somerville and I’ve had the chance to beta test this thing. There are obviously cheaper ways to make a thermoformer, but I found the heating elements and temp control were a big draw for me.

    It was heating the whole sheet consistently and I wasn’t loosing heat toward the edges of my material. I have always had terrible luck with thicker stuff, but I was able to make some pretty thick PETG molds with this as well.

    I like having something like this in my shop, versus having to work at home and use an oven. This worked way faster and less clunky for me.

  4. I’m on the “amusing but unnecessary” mindset. Making a thermoformer is absurdly easy, and way, way cheaper. You can even use the oven for emergency plastic softening! (PVC not recommended, tough)
    I’m not blaming HaD on it tough. They’ve featured some posts of mine that where..well, let’s say not the worst hacks around but… XD
    I see it as a place for everyone, so, let’s just appreciate the ideas, and skip to better posts, shouldn’t we?

  5. “That’s not too bad”.

    I’m guessing some how that pesky “too” word slipped in your sentence by accident.

    $500 bucks is outrageous for a simple vacuum former (that doesn’t include the vacuum OR SHIPPING).

  6. Any good ideas on how to make recycled plastic sheets for vacuforming? or what free stuff can be used? there are thin pieces of plastics everywhere… i guess there must be lots of things shipped in some kind of plastic packaging that will work… i also guess, that PET plastic from blister packaging is not good enough (or is it?), but there may be some others…

  7. A temp controller? Why? I have used a couple commercial formers and they never had them. Heat until your plastic droops and drop down and hit the vacuum. $1k is way too much without a vacuum included.

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