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  1. Toragh's Avatar
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    Jan 14, 2007, 5:54 AM - Vacuumform helmet question #1

    Oky doky, I'm thinking about making a vacuumform table and I'm doing some R&D. I've already been to TK-560's site, Studio Creation's site, and some other places, but I'm just wandering if there's any other site/books anyone would suggest.

    Also, as R&D for a first test project (after practicing with smaller stuff of course), has anyone vacuumformed a Jango or Boba helmet before? If so, does anyone have pics of it? I'm asking since I mostly see either resin, fiberglass, or cold cast buckets, and just curious if anyone has gone down this road before.

    I'd appreciate any tips of course. I've already done alot of R&D, but ya never know what you might miss or not heard of. Even when it's right in front of my...your face *whistles*

    Thanks a bunch!
  2. Member Since
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    Jan 14, 2007, 8:13 AM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #2

    Just curious..most of those sites talk about the type of machine that actually folds over. I am going to build the type that drops down. I purchased the book "A Plastic Vacuum Forming Machine" by Vincent Gingery. It has some good information if you want to build the drop down type. I think I paid about $15 for it. I am planning on making it large enough to make the chest piece and the helmet (eventually as I am talent limited!!). Good luck in your progress.

    Jdboushh
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    Jan 14, 2007, 9:52 AM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #3

    Quote jdboushh said: View Post
    Just curious..most of those sites talk about the type of machine that actually folds over. I am going to build the type that drops down. I purchased the book "A Plastic Vacuum Forming Machine" by Vincent Gingery. It has some good information if you want to build the drop down type. I think I paid about $15 for it. I am planning on making it large enough to make the chest piece and the helmet (eventually as I am talent limited!!). Good luck in your progress.

    Jdboushh
    Be sure to check out the vacuum forming forum on the discussion board at tk560.com. Several of us have built large or small over-and-under machines, and there are threads about them (and other designs besides flip-over machines, too).

    By the way, I'd be interested to hear how Gingery's adjustable frames work.

    Paul
  4. I helped at SDCC '08 GCNgamer128's Avatar
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    Jan 14, 2007, 5:41 PM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #4

    I don't know if anyone has made a vacuuformed Fett helmet before. I've thought about it, but overall, fiberglass and resin are much stronger, but they are also more expensive.

    If anyone wants to give it a shot, I'd love to see it!!
  5. CombatBaby's Avatar
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    Jan 14, 2007, 5:49 PM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #5

    I've seen this done before, I think I have a pic somewhere too that I can post if I can find it. Most people form it in three different parts, much like trooper helmets. The dome, face, and back of the helmet are all seperate pieces and you connect them together. Then add resin pieces on later. It would also probably be helpful to do a coat of fiberglass inside to give it some strength.

    It can be done, but a lot of people just save for a fiberglass helmet


    -=QuinN!
  6. MandoMan's Avatar
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    Jan 14, 2007, 6:49 PM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #6

    Here's a vacformed helmet:

    http://www.tk560.com/blaxmyth/blaxmyth.html

    I'd really like to try this sometime, just so I could have all the cool helmet paintjobs.
  7. Icedevil's Avatar
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    Jan 14, 2007, 7:04 PM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #7

    isn't the original altmann's fett helmet vacuum formed?
  8. Toragh's Avatar
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    Jan 14, 2007, 11:48 PM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #8

    Ya I was thinking about using fiberglass to reinforce it since I was thinking of making armor as well.

    Great pics, thanks for the link.

    Isn't there a non-stick spray for vacuum form molds? I remember something baout some non-stick spray for molds, but I can't remember if it's for vacuum forming or resin casting.
  9. MandoMan's Avatar
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    Jan 14, 2007, 11:59 PM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #9

    It was probably for some kind of casting. To my knowledge, you don't need to spray or coat the mould with anything, since the plastic doesn't get hot enough to melt to the mold.

    Be sure to post progress pics, I'd really like to see how it turns out!
  10. Member Since
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    Jan 15, 2007, 12:28 AM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #10

    Quote Toragh said: View Post
    Isn't there a non-stick spray for vacuum form molds? I remember something baout some non-stick spray for molds, but I can't remember if it's for vacuum forming or resin casting.
    Presumably resin. You generally don't need or want a mold release for vacuum forming; it only messes things up.

    If your molds aren't polished, the plastic generally won't stick. (The plastic isn't liquid, just rubbery, so it doesn't infiltrate tiny grooves or crevices and make a bond.)

    If they are polished, you can scuff them with 400-grit sandpaper to roughen them up at a smaller scale than will show up in the formed plastic. (Or maybe cover them with pantyhose-type nylon.)

    In general, vacuum form molds shouldn't be painted with random paints. Hot plastic will stick to some kinds of paint. (Krylon sandable gray primer seems to be okay.) It won't generally stick to epoxy or bondo or wood or MDF or plaster or water putty or gypsum cement.
  11. Toragh's Avatar
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    Jan 15, 2007, 12:48 AM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #11

    It won't stick to plaster, eh? Do you think I could use this stuff for molds? Or at least as a first step towards a mold then smoothing it out and such? http://www.dick-blick.com/items/335/...-10053ww-l.jpg
  12. Toragh's Avatar
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    Jan 16, 2007, 6:29 PM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #12

    ummm, don't mean to be rude, but, does anyone think that stuff will work as a mold material?
  13. Member Since
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    Jan 16, 2007, 7:19 PM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #13

    I've used plaster bandages for life casting, but not for other mold making. I'm not sure why you'd want to. I'm not sure what you envision doing with it.

    Are you talking about making a buck for actually vacuum forming over, or a mold to cast a buck in?

    Normally, I'd sculpt the shape in something easy to sculpt, and then make an intermediate (negative) mold of that in some kind of plastery stuff, and then cast the actual buck in that mold. (Or I might use the negative as a cavity mold for vacuum forming into.)

    Plaster bandages don't seem particularly useful for any of these steps.

    They're most useful for lifecasting, where you want to put on a very thin layer of plaster, because plaster gets hot when it sets up---if you put on a thick layer, you can burn somebody.

    For making a sculpt or an intermediate mold, you can use straight plaster, fairly thick, for the mold part, then put more plaster with reinforcement around that to make it strong. You could use plaster bandages for that, but prefab plaster bandages would be pretty expensive. For the reinforcement steps, some people dip burlap in plaster and put that on. I usually use water putty with fiberglass drywall tape. (Or a mix of water putty and plaster of Paris, which is cheaper.)

    One problem with prefab plaster bandages is that the plaster on them is plain plaster of Paris, which I usually avoid unless I want the mold to be easy to break. (For a waste mold.) And in that case, I don't want much reinforcement interfering with breaking the mold away.
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    Jan 17, 2007, 10:10 AM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #14

    I have a question about vaccuum forming tables. I noticed these wonderful ladies making there 'Easterlings', from Lord of the Rings, costumes using a time of vaccuum forming table here and here. Can anyone tell me what kind of table this is and how does one get a hold of or make it?
  15. Toragh's Avatar
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    Jan 17, 2007, 10:59 AM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #15

    pictures don't work
  16. Member Since
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    Jan 17, 2007, 11:46 AM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #16

    Oops!Looks like something stopping photo linking. Try this.
    http://www.whatishcc.com/easterlings.php and scroll down to the Vaccum Form table photo.
  17. Member Since
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    Jan 17, 2007, 11:50 AM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #17

    I got one of the images to work, with an img tag, in preview anyway:



    It looks like they went out and bought a shop vac, made or found a thin square box, cut a hole in the side of it and plugged the shop vac in there, and put that up on the box the shop vac came in. I'm guessing there's weatherstripping around the top edge, and likely pegboard over the top of the box, but I can't see that in this picture. And maybe not. Maybe the thin box is metal, and they're sealing the plastic directly to the top edge.

    The top frame looks like 1/16" thick 1" L aluminum from the hardware store, with the horizontal part slotted at the corners, and the vertical parts bent 90 degrees. Probably pop riveted or screwed together where it comes back and meets itself. This is a common frame construction that's featured in Doug Walsh's book.

    The black clips holding the plastic to the frame are manuscript binder clips from an office supply store.

    I probably wouldn't do things quite that way.

    First off, don't buy a new shop vac just for vacuum forming; it's a waste of money. Take a piece of craft foam to a good thrift store, and try out the vacuums by putting the craft foam over the hose end, and seeing which one sucks the foam furthest into the hose. Buy that one. Shop vacs are not usually superior to similarly-powerful canister vacuums for vacuum forming. (I usually use a small but powerful hand vacuum I got for something like $3 at a Goodwill Blue Hanger store. It actually sucks harder than the shop vac I'd bought. Don't repeat my mistake.)

    Second, I'd probably make the frames out of aluminum windowscreen framing stuff, with aluminum corners. That's cheaper, and gives you rigid corners, and it's very easy if you have a hacksaw and a miter box. (The aluminum corners I use require mitered cuts.)

    Third, I'd make a platen out of a board, maybe 3/4" MDF, with a hole in the middle and the vacuum attached to that hole. (I use a galvanized floor flange and nipple, but you can save a couple of bucks by just epoxying the nipple directly into the hole.) You don't need more than one hole if you're only making one object at a time. And if you do want a bunch of holes, you can layer a piece of pegboard over the one big hole, on spacers.

    All of this is spelled out in detail in my draft "Chapter 2" over on tk560.com:

    http://www.tk560.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=466

    There's also other information in there, including various alternative ways to make frames, and pointers to other intros & more advanced vacuum former info.
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    Jan 18, 2007, 9:05 AM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #18

    drcrash - thanks for the review. I think this will be helpful for others as well as for myself. I appreciate the time you took to write this. Seems like I need to get a team of like minded people together to make some awesome stuff.
  19. TD-7614's Avatar
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    Jan 17, 2010, 3:22 PM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #19

    Boba Fett and Jango Feet are heavy to thermoforming, it will be necessary to divide in 3 parts: faceplate, bucket and end plate. Ears had to in order to be still poured out from resin. So it is much more work then fibreglass.
    Sorry for my English.
  20. clonecollector's Avatar
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    Jan 19, 2010, 12:21 PM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #20

    Bradley Fett made a vacuform bucket... 3 parts. I have one... check my "For Sale" thread... Stormtooperguy had a buildup/ paintup of one posted as well. Hope this helps!
  21. clonesix's Avatar
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    Jan 19, 2010, 1:12 PM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #21

    I have built my own vacuformer, and it can be done on the cheap. After all the work, effort and money, I recommend paying the $125 for the Proto-Form plans and pay a fabricator to weld up all the parts. I the thinking has been done for you.
  22. Gilmortar's Avatar
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    Jan 19, 2010, 1:29 PM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #22

    Quote Toragh said: View Post
    Isn't there a non-stick spray for vacuum form molds? I remember something baout some non-stick spray for molds, but I can't remember if it's for vacuum forming or resin casting.
    Alot of Thermoforming plants use a product similar to WD40 as a "mold release" just keep in mind that you want to try and stray away from any flammable sprays as you deal with heating elements typically around your formers.

    Quote MandoMan said: View Post
    It was probably for some kind of casting. To my knowledge, you don't need to spray or coat the mould with anything, since the plastic doesn't get hot enough to melt to the mold.
    Well, some materials and the way a mold is cut is a good reason to use a release. When I used to make clear acrylic lenses for Airplanes, they had to be blemish free, so we used polished gelcoated molds and for a mold release we used a clear cooking oil. So its all dependant.

    Quote Toragh said: View Post
    It won't stick to plaster, eh? Do you think I could use this stuff for molds? Or at least as a first step towards a mold then smoothing it out and such? http://www.dick-blick.com/items/335/...-10053ww-l.jpg
    I wouldn't recommend using plaster bandages...your best bet is going to be to make your piece via a clay sculpt or other medium, and then remolding it out of plaster or hydrocal. making a solid piece ensures strength in the mold and many casts to follow. It also provides rigidity as when you suck the plastic down on top of it, the pressure will not buckle the piece or mold if it were just plaster bandages.
  23. stormtrooperguy's Avatar
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    Jan 19, 2010, 6:24 PM - Re: Vacuumform helmet question #23

    Quote clonesix said: View Post
    I have built my own vacuformer, and it can be done on the cheap. After all the work, effort and money, I recommend paying the $125 for the Proto-Form plans and pay a fabricator to weld up all the parts. I the thinking has been done for you.
    they are cheaper now... the plans are down to $75, which makes it an even better idea!

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