Proposal: DIY Vacuum former machine (3/21)

In the interest of putting talk into action, and not cluttering up the other thread, I started a new thread for the DIY vacuum former.
I’d like to propose a vote for a $65 dollar plan for Proto-Form vacuum forming machine. I will withdraw this proposal if we purchase the Centroform vacuum formers from the other thread instead. Vote would be 3/21/17. The plan is to go over the plans for a week or two, tweak or keep the plans, come up with a price list, and propose a budget for the supplies (Ideally April 4th). Estimated costs will range from $1100-2500. Ideal completion time would (hopefully) be 2 months, give or take a month. As project manager, I will use this information to create a project plan to keep us on task to hopefully finish on time. I don’t intend to help building, I would like to focus on managing the project and making sure it stays on task, so I would like volunteers to help build this V-former (I have a few people already interested in helping).

I’ll open this thread up for thoughts and discussion. Please keep things respectful and courteous.

With the length of time and completion rate of other DIY projects being way too long and not a high completion rate, I do not think this is a good idea.

You mentioned regarding not having room for a desk vacformer, where are we gonna place a floor model?

Moving this to this thread. As it pertains to the new vote.

Honestly I agree with what Chris Anderson has talked about. For a hackerspace, we don’t do much hacking anymore. Yes, while we have the money to buy something new to use, we lose out on the learning experience. When we have something that’s expensive, people are afraid to touch it. When it’s built, people are more likely to experiment and make things better. I feel like the hive has been losing this mentality with all of our nice shiny tool purchases we’ve been making recently.

So there is a joke in the cosplay world: why buy it for $20 when you can build it for $100 in materials.
A worktable or frame yes that makes reasonable sense… but many tools or project we built has cost more funds than originally thought. And currently we had/are having a discussion on spending money.

We have room for a vacuum former, the problem is we don’t have a place to allocated it right now. If we spent a month or so making it, a spot will emerge when things start migrating into the other room. We can also address any space and power problems that might arise while building it rather than after it’s done.

So we have space but we gotta find it? That can be done with either a pre-made or built one, I don’t see this being a legitimate arguement for no space for the pre-built one.

While it will take longer (and yes I know instant gratification is lovely and all) but I hope that by having someone manage the project (i.e. me) and setting a deadline (2 months, give or take) will help us keep to that schedule so it won’t take forever.

Power steering racing had a project manager, and even then deadlines were not kept. Deadlines were set for the CNC router, they got delayed. I still don’t know what’s up with the shapeoko. The gigabot’s upgrades have kept that offline more than its been up. All these projects are awesome and cool but at what point do we add Man hours and say it’s not worth it to build?

As a disclaimer, I’m not in a position or capacity to help with construction, and I may not be involved the most with the space, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

In the general sense, I agree with Dustin. After the string of (necessary) direct purchases of tooling and equipment, it would be nice for the Hive to flex its collective Maker skills and have a project that industrious members of the Hive would complete. It would be a great addition to Hive, not just in the sense of a machine that makes reasonable sense to have, but also for marketing of the space to show capability.

With that said, in this specific example and with what I am seeing, I gotta share Daniel’s sentiment with this one. To me, I keep getting the sense that most of the member-built machines like the Gigabot and CNC table are very much still “in process”. There are exceptions like the dust collection system, that, while that may also be in process, it’s relatively new and I am actively seeing changes and work done on it.

Forgive me if I’m a bit behind on my evaluations or if I’m not correct on any points.

Do I think that the space should build a DIY Vacuum Former instead of purchase it? Yes, even if it would require a couple month time table, and I dare say, maybe cost just a few bucks extra than if it was a direct purchase (although I would think that in this case a cost savings would be possible). I’m just apprehensive that a project like this, while given a deadline of, let’s say, three months, would end up getting repeatedly pushed back due to personal responsibilities, emergency situations, “maker burnout”, etc., and there is a half finished project taking space in the Hive for much longer than intended.

tl;dr My opinion is that, given that plans are out there for a DIY Vacuum Former, the Hive should put forth a reasonable effort to build one as a support of the Maker Mentality, but I have to abstain from supporting in the affirmative this proposal until assurance would be made that a deadline would be guaranteed.

I’ve been consistently coming in under time and budget.

I’ll help, this sounds like a fun project. If nothing else we can at least buy and take a look at the plans and determine what we’re getting into exactly.

I can volunteer my time to create metal framework and do fabrication needed to make our own if that route is more financially conservative and we would be able to make multiple plastic sheeting adapters for it. As I have stated before I have made a vacuum former for doing Kydex work for holsters and Tool holders however I just did not build in a heated element as the size of plastic I was using could be preheated the oven, then formed. Having a vacuum former at hive is a plus in my eyes any direction we go. However if we were able to make it out of Open Source components or even find those plans for free somewhere I think we would have a lot more fun going from scratch.

The past is the past… and each project ought to be considered on it’s own merits. “Other people took to long… therefore lets do nothing now” is a hell of a limitation going forward.

Plans are available, the welding, electronics, and project management each could be a class. (Also a plus, no component seems to be outside the groups skillset). A class in project management? From a project management guru? That is resume fodder. Throw in fiance and budgeting too>? With a practical example in place? A few people needing a senior project? There can be lots of involvement and activity on a group project.

Space? Cover the thing with a tarp and put it in the new annex… Or hoist it up on the pallet racks… Heck, chuck it downstairs and hope for the best… Or decide there is no room and drive it to another makerspace.

But hell, this is the kind of thing I want to do… visit on weekends, work on group projects, have access to cool capabilities. Lots of stuff seems to get shot down by grumpy guss. Grumpy guss seems to rule. People talk do-och-racy… but grumpy guss seems to kick that in the arse. Who has more power? Two ideas enter… one idea leaves.

If there is energy and enthusiasm for a project, better to find a way to make it a fit for the space and the group. So what if the lead is six months… that’s still half a year with a vacuum former in a year.

It’s how you view the glass, half empty, half full… or nowhere near enough to put out a fire :slight_smile:


Optimist: Glass is half full
Pessimist: Glass is half empty

Engineer: Glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

The Gigabot was not made by members… it was loaned to us by a company, and later sold to us when the company went under. (it was already at the hive, and was sold cheap - they had to sell off any assets on the books - I think)
I think they bought it as a Kickstarter, and then found out that it did not fit the needs of their business.

I am totally in favor of a DIY vaccuformer, They seem like a pretty simple mechanism, and not much harder when you get into the switches and stuff for dual vaccume. An adjustable frame for various sized material. And I would suggest going for the overhead heat coils… it would help prevent the fires Daniel spoke of

and for Gosh sake, let’s make it sturdy… The wobble on the centriform ones in the video worries me. (maybe an external frame that holds the heater element, and the upright slides for the frame are NOT the only support for the heater?)

"Engineer: Glass is twice as big as it needs to be. "

Or ‘Glass has 100% redundancy’ ?

Engineer: Who thought that putting a vital liquid in such a fragile container was a good idea? Clearly this would be better if we redid it in plastic!

The Gigabot was not made by members…

Well… I clearly remember sleeping next to that damn machine after I tore it all apart and rebuilt it. :wink:


Smart Engineer: for 20 bucks I can design you a glass that holds precisely the right amount of water you need.

Isn’t hacking the whole point of this organization?
Isn’t the biggest payoff that we learn something from building it, doing it, making it better?

Not so sure about this part, though:

“I don’t intend to help building, I would like to focus on managing the project and making sure it stays on task”

A hacker’s equity (and therefore authority and respect) is based upon their hacks. I think you’re going to need to hack.

“Hack” being the generic term for making/modifying stuff.
When I hear “hack” I still picture people sitting in a phone booth with a tone generator to hack into the phone system to get free long distance.

We are just talking about a group build.

Some management is needed, but I don’t think anyone will get by with not actually creating something physical. People get fussy when other people set deadlines or push for things to happen while not contributing. Could just be part of the assembly or testing group.

I wouldn’t worry about it, just don’t plan on sitting in some management office and giving power point updates on things. :slight_smile:

Sounds like there will be some interesting work to create this. I’m on board to help out. We do need to be reasonable on timelines since many people are busy with other life stuff.

To respond to you Lorin, it’s not that I would be opposed to help build the vacuum former. To put it another way, I would like to focus my priorities on managing the project first, and helping with the actual construction as a secondary. While I believe the skills I can learn by pitching in by building a VFormer would be valuable, the skills I can learn by playing the roll of a project manager would be just as valuable, if not more since my degree is in this direction (Operations management).

But yeah, I agree I need to strike a balance. Don’t want to become one of those crotchety managers that don’t do anything =P

Cool. As brad says, people get pretty fussy when words like “management” come up – reminds us of work. I’d say take some responsibility (aka M-word), get your hands dirty, and it’ll happen.

Can we use the word “deputy” or something? It’s the M-word again… Really, it’s not you, Dustin, it’s 20 years of white collar job trauma.:wink:


Someone suggested ‘project coordinator’. But if we want less official names, I could be called ‘The vigilante’ :smiley:

Better than ‘managment’, right?

Well in the ITIL world the project coordinator is the person basically initiates the project and owns the project through to the end, While project managers set arbitrary timelines and don't participate at all in the project it's self.

the only thing I worry about here is we will soon be in peak makerfair and volunteering season. I hope people don’t get burnt out too soon before we get to do some of our big events…