Vacuum Former - Raw Material for first trials

Any experienced vacuum formers out there?

We have a vacuum forming machine. It’s wired up to heat. We have a vacuum pump and shop vac ready to draw vacuum.
The new storage base for the vacuum former is done. Now we need to stock it with some raw material for our first test.

We need your input.

  1. What is the right material to buy for some trial runs. example; Styrene? How thick?
  2. Where to buy?
  3. Do you have a shape to form?

We want to buy a few sheets of plastic and try it out. Please, Low cost recommendations because it’s an experiment.

To do the test we need a shape to form over. Do you have something?
I’ve made molds with styrofoam core surfaced with plaster of paris mixed with latex acrylic concrete additive instead of water. It’s durable and makes fairly good details. I’ve got left over latex additive to contribute to a trial. It’s way easier than wood or metal.

Ready for your input.

I have a buck (shape to form), I am making a few more right now. Material wise we can use acrylics, abs, PETG, HIPS and a few others.

And I usually buy my stuff online. But I believe there is a plastic vendor somewhere here in cincy

I just ordered 2 50" x 90" sheets of 2mm h-polystyrene (how). This is the easiest working, low cost, default material for vacuuforming. I’ll pick it up at piedmont plastic tomorrow maybe. They did not have thinner than 2mm, but 2mm is fine in this material with our machine. It will simply require a little more cooling.

HPS is used in the durable plastic plates, jewel cases for cds, etc. it can be scrounged, but not in sheet size.

It’s easy to score and cut with a plexi knife or laser.

Cost is $29 per 50x90" sheet. It’ll be half that in thinner, but it’s not in stock. The other plastics mentioned are close to $100 for a sheet this size so…



Sorry, haven’t been able to go to Kenwood to piedmont plastic and pick these up yet. If anyone else wants to pick them up feel free – order is under my name. Otherwise, probably Monday.


anyone have a test date for the trial run ? :slight_smile:

I can’t get plastic after all-- it’s heavy. Until I have my surgeries, I’ve got no strength in my arms and hands. I don’t want to do a Kevin S and overexert myself before or after surgery.

Here’s what I strongly suggest, as it is the easiest and most common vac material – polystyrene 1mm to 2mm thick. High impact polystyrene or high-density. Obviously, not Styrofoam, which is different stuff…


Hi Lorin,
Perhaps, I can do this. I live near Piedmont Plastics. I’ve got a small volvo wagon which can only handle 40" wide. This stuff is a big floppy sheet. Right? It calcs out to weigh about 12 pounds at 50" x 90" x 2 mm = .2 cu ft = 11.31 lbs. X 2 = 25 lbs. total.

To me the size and the floppy are the problems.
If I bend the two sheets in a downward arc, taping them with the ever famous duct tape, they should fit in the car with about 30 inches sticking out the hatch in back. The hatch can be bungied down for an adventure trip down I75. Way too floppy for the roof.
IMAGE: famous fails of stuff that doesn’t fit a car being hauled anyway. Will provide before and after photos.

If I can pick it up Tuesday, then the gang can help wrestle it into the Hive and cut it into appropriate size work pieces. IMAGE: Hivesters in a goat rope with tape measure, knives and straight edge cutting plastic on floor. Uhmmm. add blood. After all it’s prep for Halloween.

Lorin: If you read this far. Let me know the status of your order with Piedmont Plastics. Am I picking your order up or making my own order?

Let the games begin.

If someone has a better plan to rescue me from this insanity, I’m more than willing to ask for help. Stop me before I do insane car loading things again.


They should still have my order. The total was about $30, I think, which I was going to pay on pickup. I can reimburse you.

Yep. If I lift my arms more than 90 degrees the circulation to them is completely cut off. So, yes, the thought of grasping a 40x90" thing involves a lot of reaching, which would involve my arms turning blue and not much progress.

If anyone is interested, this is my weird disablity: I have all three types, and in both arms.It turns out that I was born with extra neck muscles (extra scalenes). I’m thinking about going by the name “doubleneck”. Good news is that, now that all the tests are done, I can have surgery and move on with my life. Then I’ll be “single-neck-no-rib” Parker.
Also, I got this diagnosis before having a pulmonary embolism, which is more often the case for people with this.

Please excuse me if I seem absent or unreliable. I’ve been dealing with this for some time. I can’t even solder anymore as my hands are too numb. So, sticking mostly to 3d printers that do the reaching and manipulating for me…


OK, I’ll call Piedmont to confirm the order and pick it up Tuesday. Money isn’t the issue.
Most important thing is for you to get your fix and get on with life.

We must move Forward cause the alternative sucks canal water.

Agreed. See you tomorrow.


We now have plastic in house for the vacuum former. Piedmont rolled it up in a 12 inch dia x 55 inch long cylinder.

Super cool. We could test it out tonight.
Do we have a neat mold?

It works!