Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nature Abhors a Vacuum, and So Do My Cats

Today, I learned how to vacuum form plastic. It's pretty easy to get the general idea, but I need to refine my process. The plastic I used was a cut up milk carton, and the box is a cigar box I got at a thrift store. Here's how I did it.

1. Cut some holes in a box.

This is the original cigar box.

30 holes in the back will provide the suction to the sheet of plastic.

The large hole is where the vacuum cleaner will hook up

The holes I cut were a the corners of one inch squares. I managed to get 30 holes on the back of the cigar box. I used a 1/16" drill bit to do this. The hole on the side is for the vacuum cleaner, which will be used to suck the plastic down to the cigar box.

2. Put some junk on that box.

My girlfriend wouldn't allow me to use
 her ceramic Buddha salt shakers,
so I had to use a pair of pliers, instead.

3. Attach a sheet of plastic to a frame

This is a cut open milk bottle, attached to a wooden frame the size of the cigar box with some thumbtacks. The thumbtacks melted a little bit on the next step.

4. Heat the plastic in the oven.

This part not shown, because it required quick back and forth from the oven before the plastic re-solidified. Basically what I did was to put the oven on broil for about five minutes, reduce to 350, and then put the frame with the plastic in. About two to three minutes later, the plastic was completely clear.

5. Suck the air out that box.

It's pretty opaque at this point,
 but when it was in the oven,
the plastic was perfectly see-through.

From the oven, I quickly moved it to the top of the cigar box, turned on the vacuum, and waited until it was again opaque.

6. Wait for it to cool, and you're done!

What I need to do from here is to figure out how to seal the plastic to the frame better, so that the suction from the vacuum doesn't have leakage.

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