We’re big fans of the current crop of desktop 3D printers, which allow you to fabricate all sorts of plastic shapes at low costs from the comfort of your home. It’s made prototyping, crafting, and small batch manufacturing a whole lot easier than it’s ever been. As great as 3D printing is, it’s not the best fabrication solution for every situation. Some things, for instance, are best done with a CNC machine or a laser cutter, while others can be better achieved using thermoforming with something like the Mayku FormBox.
A desktop vacuum forming machine, it lets you take a sheet of plastic and shape it by pressing it against a mold. Whether you want to make a mask for your cosplay outfit, an aerodynamic body panel for your racing drone, or a custom housing for your gadgets, this thing lets you do all that and more using a thermoforming process.
The Mayku FormBox works much like any industrial vacuum former that heats a plastic sheet over a mold, then uses vacuum suction to force the sheet to conform to the shape of the mold. This allows it to transform erstwhile flat plastic sheets into complicated shapes at a rate much faster than it would take to fabricate them using traditional 3D printing, making it a potentially useful addition to anyone who uses 3D printers for any of their projects. Want to make a very thin replica of your coffee cup, for instance? Place it on the work bed, place a thermoplastic sheet on top, and run it through the machine. Sure, you’ll have to do some cutting, chiseling, and polishing afterwards, but it’s still quite a quick way to fabricate something from scratch.
It has its own ceramic heater that applies temperatures between 160 degrees and 340 degrees Celsius to the thermoplastic sheet, allowing it to work with most any type of plastic material, including HDPE, PETG, ABS, and more. Maximum thickness for the sheet, though, is 1.5mm, so you can only use this to make really, really thin objects, although you can probably vacuum form multiple sheets and layer them together afterwards if you want something thicker.
The Mayku FormBox doesn’t actually come with its own vacuum machine for generating suction. It’s one of the reasons why it manages to remain compact. Instead, you’re supposed to attach your own vacuum cleaner to the device, using that to provide the final action that completes the thermoforming process. According to the outfit, it should work with nearly any type of household and workshop vacuum that’s under 2,000 watts, so there’s no need for specialized equipment on that end. The device has a work bed that accommodates building any object that measures 5.9 x 5.9 x 5.11 inches (width x depth x height), allowing you to use it to build all sorts of smaller objects. We know, that eliminates a whole lot of larger projects, but for thermoforming prototype parts and craft items, along with creating custom packaging, this machine can get a whole lot done.
The Mayku FormBox is available now.