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Vacuum Bed Construction


Vacuum Bed Construction
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Some pictures and details about the vacuum bed I contructed to make the canopy for my Mig 15 scratch build.

vacuum bed with mold

The picture above is my homemade vacuum forming bed. The main framing portion of the vacuum bed is a standard cake pan, I think it was about 9"x9"x2". The rolled edges of the pan worked out perfect as they help to create a seal around the edge of the bed when the heated plastic is placed over it for vacuum. I just cut a hole in one side of it to allow the hose for vacuum attachments to fit tight inside of. Next I attached two small pine rails inside the pan that were about 1.5"x0.5"x 8". These pieces run parallel to each other (about 6" apart), and are attached with wood screws through the bottom of the pan. The mold shown is the canopy mold for my Mig 15, and is carved from several blocks of balsa

vacuum bed with vacuum source shown

heat source

Another picture of the heat source. The bricks and steel spacer blocks are just used to give the plastic support frame something to ride on while the the plastic heats up. You don't want to let the plastic touch the grill.

vacuum bed with mold and vacuum source attached

The picture above shows the vacuum bed with the aluminum frame that the plastic used to create the parts is attached to. I used 0.75"x0.75"x.06" aluminum angle stock to create the frame, this angle stock should be available at most hardware stores. The pictures also shows the vacuum source attached to the vacuum bed.

heat source with aluminum frame

The picture above shows the heat source, and the plastic support frame. The plastic is attached to the plastic support frame with some clamps that I purchased in an office supply store. The heat source is an electric grill that I think was purchased at Walmart. It works as pretty good heat source to get the plastic nice and soft. I was letting the plastic sag about an 1.5" before placing it over the mold and then firing up the vacuum.

vacuum formed canopies ready for tinting/painting

Heres a picture of some formed canopies. The plastic I used for the canopies shown above is from Sig, and comes in sheets of .015"x17"x17". Notice the formed dents around the edge of the canopy that hasn't been cut out yet. Those dents are from the clamps used to hold the plastic to the frame, as the plastic gets warm they leave some marks. Its good to use quite a few of these