So let's get this straight...Pop culture enthusiasts spend countless hours and drop $$$ to create stunning or hilarious replicas of their favorite comic book character, gamer persona or on screen super hero?
Guilty as charged...
The tools you have available can really limit or facilitate your creative process and ultimately the outcome of your projects. Industrial vacuum presses have always been a tool used by the pros. The high cost of professional thermoform machines make them unavailable to most. The need is still there, so a homemade vacuum press is the next best thing, right???
Wrong! Building your own takes a lot of time and requires special tools to fabricate. Inevitably, it will cost more than you expected, take longer than planned, and your end result may not be durable or reliable and waste expensive materials. A lot of work has gone into perfecting vacuum forming technology and a homemade press just can't achieve the same results or a scalable model.
Wow...now what?! Can't afford the real deal and the one you make doesn't work well? Good news! You can afford a desktop vacuum former...you just didn't know it!
Had enough of the pitch? Let's breakdown some of the specific applications I can think of as a relative newb to the industry. In case you need a little inspiration to get those creative juices flowing here are some great examples:
Looking for Iron Man Suit building tutorials? Look no further than Xrobots James Bruton. He has step by step guides his website and youtube on how to build the Iron Man Suit including the robotic components. He combines a lot of different methods to make a finished product including 3D printing, Molding, Casting, Vacuum Forming, and Electronics.
Just about any cosplay helmet or mask can be vacuum formed and reproduced repeatedly if you build a mold. Here is a great tutorial on plaster mold making.
Nearly all Star Wars cosplay involves vacuum formed parts, just ask the 501st. Especially the Stormtrooper clone body armor. Buying a kit to assemble yourself can be very expensive, won't be custom fit, and may be frowned upon depending on who you are with. Most cosplay organizations like the 501st Legion require professional quality costumes made by the member. To achieve this, and have more than one costume, you really need a professional grade vacuum press. This a great tutorial on vacuum forming stormtrooper armor.
Punished Props has some great tutorials and information on vacuum formed prop making. Don't miss out on their youtube channel either! Tons of information and techniques with all the links to help you get started!
The sky is the limit with vacuum forming cosplay. With the right tools and research on how to make molds, you can have professional quality results in a fraction of the time and cost! You just need an HD Vacuum Forming Press, a vacuum pump and some creativity to get started!