1. CHECK IN: Before your reservation begins, you must check-in with a dFAB staff member. Only after first checking in may you utilize the equipment.
  2. PREPARATION: Molds must be completely dry and free of all particulates. Materials must be purchased and cut-to-size within fifteen (15) minutes of your reservation start time.
  3. START UP: Turn the equipment "on" by pulling down on the circuit switch on the rear wall of the vacuum forming area.
  4. WARM UP: Using the turn-dial knobs on the vacuum former, adjust to the desired heat settings and locations. Each knob controls a different heating element area, and some may be unnecessary depending on the size of your vacuum forming window. Also, too much heat can cause your material to boil/bubble. Heating up slowly and at lower temperatures is highly recommended.
  5. WINDOW: Install necessary window size for your specific workflow. The re-sizing windows are easily removed/installed with hand tightened/loosened nuts and bolts. The vacuum former includes two window sizes: 24″ x 24″ (vac form material must be cut-to-size at 26″ x 26″ minimum); and 11″ x 11″ (vac form material must be cut-to-size at 12″ x 12″ minimum). Alternately, you can opt to use the equipment without re-sizing windows, and utilize the full bed: 25″ x 25″ (vac form material must be cut-to-size at 27″ x 27″ minimum).
  6. PLACEMENT: Pull forward on the vacuum former arm on the right side of the equipment. This will raise the bed within the vacuum chamber. Place your mold within the vacuum forming window and ensure 3/8″ to 1/2″ of clearance from the edges. Make sure the steel screen mesh is sitting underneath the mold. Lower the bed slowly by pushing the vacuum former arm backward. Unlock the window frame and "sandwich" your thermo-plastic material within the re-sizing windows. Lock the window frame with your thermo-plastic properly aligned and placed. Pull the heating element frame over top of your framing window.
  7. STATES: Your material will go through three (3) states of change. First, the material will deform unevenly and warp upward. Second, the material will begin to level off completely and become very glossy. Lastly, the material will begin to sag downward into the vacuum chamber. During the final stage, your material will become very "sheet-like" and malleable. If you bump the machine lightly with your hand you will see the material bounce somewhat. You can also push the heating elements back and lightly touch or press on your material. Make sure the edges are malleable enough to pull down and around your mold.
  8. VACUUM: When your material reaches a sufficiently malleable state, casually push the heating elements backward to terminate the heating process. Pull the vacuum former arm forward to raise your mold and plastic material up through the window. Find and flip the rocker switch labeled "pump" on the equipment to turn the vacuum "on" and pull your plastic down into/onto your mold. If you notice limited change, use your body weight to push down on the window frame handles in the front of the machine to assist with the vacuum’s pull and ensure a complete seal in the vacuum chamber.
  9. COOL: When your plastic reaches a point where it can be handled safely, turn the pump "off." Alternately, you can reverse the air-flow in the vacuum chamber by finding the toggle labeled "pressure" and pushing it downward. This will assist with de-molding your plastic from the mold. Please note that the pressure toggle should be pressed completely downward or left in its normal position; there is no "in-between" state.
  10. REMOVE: Unlock and lift the framing window and remove your part.
  11. SHUT DOWN: Clean and remove any debris or scrap left in/on the equipment/area. Turn all heating knobs back to the "off" position. Turn the equipment "off" by returning the circuit switch back to its upward position. Leave re-sizing windows as they are.
  12. EMERGENCY: Return the heating elements back to their home position. Contact a dFAB employee immediately.


Equipment Specifications

  • Window Sizes: 11″ x 11″; 24″ x 24″; 26″ x 26″
  • Maximum Depth: 14″
  • Sheet Sizing: 12″ x 12″; 25″ x 25″; 27″ x 27"
  • Sheet Thickness: <0.25″

Important Notes

  • The vacuum forming equipment is for academic research and coursework ONLY. "Buggy" parts and fabrication are not permitted on this equipment.
  • Ensure that all sealed and/or laminated molds are dry before vacuum forming, such as clear coats, shellac, wood glue, latex paints, etc.