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thermo-formed plastic

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p.lewis View Drop Down
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    Posted: Oct/05/2009 at 12:13am
Can anybody recommend some references on practical thermoforming of plastics for common parts on the baja car? I'm looking for some real practical DIY kind of stuff to do the job without the professional equipment.

Thanks!
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adrive7 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote adrive7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct/05/2009 at 2:11am
You are going to want the professional equipment. You are also going to want a pretty good mold, although if you use thick enough plastic, imperfections get hidden. We used a CNC router table which the architecture dept had to carve out molds from sheets of MDF glued together. Make sure you have holes in the concave areas of the mold, too.

Also, the mold needs to be able to hold up to high temps, so no foam.

Our theater dept has a pretty large vac forming table which they let us use. Ask around your school. You might be surprised by what the other depts have.
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OctoberSky View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote OctoberSky Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct/05/2009 at 2:31am
I definitely agree with adrive, try to find a professional table in the architecture or theater department.  We made our own from plans on instructables.com and did bondo-over-foam mold, but the results were pretty awful.  Our supermileage team did use a professional table though somewhere on campus and pulled off some decent pieces.  

Not sure where you're located, but down here in LA big movie companies will let you use their 13' by 15' table for something like $100 per pull, which pretty much covers the whole car.

A lot of it is material choice too; we used thin abs and it didn't turn out as well as everyone else's polyethylene, but it was cheap and light
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adrive7 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote adrive7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct/05/2009 at 9:22am
Oh, yeah. I should have mentioned we run 1/8" ABS. It worked well, but I wouldnt go thinner than that. You won't save much by doing so, and the 1/8" is pretty tough.
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p.lewis View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote p.lewis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct/11/2009 at 11:26pm
I found some DIY stuff online but I have to give in to everybody's suggestions to go pro with the equipment. The only stuff I saw people doing with the homebrew tools was small, simple, and thin plastic parts. Most of them seemed to use polystyrene (0.030" was cited at least once), and most were making stuff like bodies for RC cars or costume parts. Nothing as strong as would be needed for fenders or guards.

Example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5CGfoxnKaQ
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