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Technical Tuesday : Vacuum Forming

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

To the uniformed eye stumbling across a satisfying video on instagram, vacuum forming may seem like a sorcery that may only be done in million dollar facilities by seasoned engineers. Oh to the contrary; vacuum forming is honestly one of the most accessible, useful techniques when it comes to repetition of objection in a fine art practice. Stemming from the process known as thermoforming, it is the act of shaping a material while hot then allowing it to cool and harden maintaining desired shape. While rigs can be purchased online for a pretty penny that is not the way we do things around here. Let's talk about your d.i.y. set up.

- a sheet of abf plastic (recommended)

- a heating element ( can be as simple as a heat gun just make sure to evenly disperse heat)

- a perforated surface

- a vacuum

- and finally an object to replicate either found or created ( a buck)

First place the buck onto the perforated surface. Connect vacuum to the underside of the surface. Apply heat to the abf plastic sheet until it becomes pliable. Drape plastic over the buck creating a sealed space. activate vacuum and watch the magic happen. The plastic will suck down and cover all but on face of the buck, leaving a very accurate replica. Of course with increased complexity of the form some obstacles may arise, but for quick mass production it works great.

GO TRY IT. Build your own rig, or buy one if your into that, makes mistakes learn from it and have fun.

Here are videos of other cool people doing it.

-Adam Savage for

- This guy from

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