The Official Un-Official Vacuum Forming Thread

I’ve started this discussion so people can share their experiences with vacuum forming. What worked for you and how did you build it? PLEASE SHARE PICTURES

So lately I’ve been very interested in vacuum forming. Enough that I took a stab at building my own. Now before you go judging me I wanted to build a cheap and easy setup for under $40. I basically used some old plywood I had laying around my garage and some 1/4" MDF. I also lined the “oven” with aluminum HVAC tape which is rated for 300 deg F. Surely 400 will be fine :). So I drilled a hole in the side of the “oven” and stuck a heat gun in there. It got up to about 350 deg F but the 1/8" ABS just wouldn’t droop enough. So I ran to Harbor Freight and grabbed another one. They are going on sale this weekend for $8.99 each by the way. So after about 10 minutes of heating my plastic got hot enough to form. I know this method was inefficient but it was the tools I had at the time. I got the job done. I bought 2 of these because I’ve been told a “convection method” would be better. Here’s the link:


So I am going to incorporate these elements in my box.

Here are some pictures of my project:

Please share yours!


Great write up, let me know how those heating elements work. I want to get into vacuum forming but don’t know what oven / heating elements to get.

Thanks for this @stuxtruth this is awesome! What I really like about your design is that the “oven” is just barely the size of the sheet. I’ve been trying to figure out how to vac form without using the family oven (the smell would not be acceptable) and without putting a whole oven in my garage. With this technique I could make these really compact and still make my own boxes.

@stuxtruth really like the compact desing, can you share the dimensions of the box and more pics :slight_smile:

I’ll get some pics and dimensions this evening.

Also did u get the heating elements and try them out? I’m assuming u have prime…

Edit: just realized they are not stocked by Amazon so there is no prime.

This is cool. The heat gun method might actually be better because it distributes the heat all around. I’ll try to get some cheap ones.

Yes I did prime. Ordered it at noon and got to my house at 7.

I have not tried it out yet though .

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Any update on the new heater?

Yes, any updates?

Update? My heaters suck, do there’s work

I had them, they kinda worked but my vacuum forming setup never ended up working well so I can’t really input.

Hello I tried this with 3 and it don’t work well at all. The heater can’t be set to the same temperature and produce too much heat even on the lowest setting, this over heated the plastic causing bubbling where the radiation is more concentrated, right above the circular heating element.

I try placing a metal divider to prevent the radiation to overheat the plastics but I did not work at all. At the end I had to scrap the whole thing.

So I have been wanting to vaccum form since I saw @psychotiller do it for the first time. I need some help tho… I cant find a good way to heat the plastic. I don’t want to use an oven because you cook food in it and I’m pretty sure the smell wouldn’t be the greatest inside the house. I was going to get a toaster oven but I cant find one big enough that isint $200. Have any of you guys used heaters, something similar to what @stuxtruth did (still never found out if it worked or not). If so how did it work out? Is there anything else you can recommend? Thanks for the help in advance!

I lined a rack in my oven with tin foil to prevent any sticking to the rack. I have noticed no smell whatsoever, though I have used kydex and not abs, so I cannot speak for its smell.

Thanks for the response, I would like to stay away from an oven. I would think ABS puts off a nasty smell, but have not vaccum formed with it to find out.

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It’s not safe to heat plastics of any kind in your kitchen. Whether you can smell it or not you will be breathing toxins. Buy a smoker element. They are like 40 bucks. Build an oven out of bricks. It’ll be cheap, and it will work incredibly well.

Work outside or in a well ventilated area away from your family.

Lots of good info and pictures here:


Where do you guys get your ABS-plastic? I can’t seem to find any in Sweden.

@JLabs you’re right about that; ABS smells terrible while it’s being heated, and the toxins emitted aren’t healthy. When I do it, I use a respirator and keep the garage door open, although even that probably isn’t ideal. Ideally you’d heat in an open area with lots of airflow and\or a ventilated spot like a lab hood.

I’m out of commission for now though; the cold temperatures of the winter garage are battling against my DIY heat box!

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