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Brian Cuocci

I'm an ER nurse. I get to see what happens to people who are careless around machine tools. It's not nice. Please try not to become one of those people.

Current project

I am constructing a vacuum forming machine. This is a device for forming sheet plastic into complex shapes. It's a great tool for Makers because it's pretty much a 3D copy machine. You create an initial object out of a sturdy workable material like wood or structural foam, and then form plastic over it to create as many hollow plastic duplicates as you like. If you want your duplicates to be solid instead of hollow, the vacuformed shell makes a great mold for casting.

You've seen Star Wars? Stormtrooper armor is mostly vacuum formed plastic. So are many of the plastic parts of your car dashboard, and the hard shell of a bicycle helmet, and the thin plastic tray in a box of fancy chocolates. Even transparent plastic can be formed for stuff like visors, canopies, and skylights.

This video demonstrates the process.

I'd love to have this at PS:1, and so I'm building it.

Challenge: This is not a tiny machine. The forming surface is 24" x 36", not including surrounding structure, and it needs some clearance on all sides for safety due to the heating elements. The total floor space requirement is about 66" x 78". It also needs 220v power on a recommended 70-amp circuit.