The kind folks at Interstate Plastics are going to be a dedicated provider of materials for the therMOFOrmer!
Interstate Plastics will be adding a page to their website specifically for us with a selection of materials at the correct sizes for the 12x12 and 24x24 versions of the therMOFOrmer.
This will give you access to a wide variety of materials at the cheapest price point possible (without us acting as a middle-man). Thanks to all of our current backers for making it possible!
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The therMOFOrmer came to life in our shop when Ben wanted to expand his model and costume making capabilities. Ben's specs were simple; it needed to be easy and it needed to be reliable. So Calvin designed it using precision automation components coupled with a standard shop vac. We both got to work building the prototype, and after some testing and fine tuning the design, we quickly discovered that we had built a powerful tool that had benefits outside Ben’s initial interests.
#1 - Everything started with Ben’s notes. Which went on for pages and pages and pages.
#2 - Rather than doing lots of custom fabrication, Calvin tried to source low cost, but functional parts…like cake pans.
#3 - Ben’s birthday? Or just the day we received the rest of the components? Hard to tell with the way Ben’s tearing through the boxes.
#4 - We started assembling our first order of parts based on our sketches and designs in early October.
#5 - Once we had the basic frame assembled, we noticed a couple areas for improvement and started to tweak the design.
#6 - The original heating element was from an electric stove, but these have since been swapped out for a square panel of ceramic encased heating elements.
#7 - The stove element didn’t heat the materials evenly so we tried adding some skirting to trap the heat at the top of the machine so it could be evenly applied to the material. It still wasn’t the best so we switched to our current heating elements which work great.
#8 - Our prototype hold-down system was laser cut luan with a dozen binder clips. This worked really well, but was really annoying to work with.
#9 - One of our last upgrades was the hold-down clamp. We designed and fabricated a self-tensioning hinge-clamp that holds the material in place and allows for easy loading and unloading of material.
#10 - From there it was just fine tuning the temperature, how long to heat different materials and allowing the air to move easily around the object being molded. Which meant lots and lots of test molds.
#11 - We found that really fine mesh screen allows for the best air flow. It ever so slightly raises the object up and allows the air to move underneath it, getting really tight, accurate molds.
WHERE WE ARE NOW:
In our shop, the therMOFOrmer lives between our laser cutter and 3D printer and we use them together to create panels, parts, molds, cases and whatever else we need for any given project.
We realized this is a valuable tool with tons of applications, so we decided to bring it to Kickstarter and offer it to the people we think will get the best use out of it…you!
IT’S GREAT FOR:
- model making
- tabletop gaming
- costume design
- creating quick molds for plastic, jello, chocolate, soap, candles, etc.
- architectural design
- repairing / replacing plastic parts
- making just about anything!
There are lots of DIY options online, but we think the therMOFOrmer is comparable with commercial units that cost twice as much. It the brings capabilities of a professional tool into anyone’s garage or workshop.
And with your help we can produce these machines at remarkably low cost. Here is what we can offer you as a reward for backing this project:
We’re excited to have created a tool we think will help a lot of people create some really great projects. Here is our proposed production timeline if this project is successful.
Please spread the word and help us see this project through. Thanks for your support!
-Calvin & Ben
Risks and challenges
We have a lot of professional experience with design-for-manufacture. Over the years we’ve developed some really great connections with different suppliers and we’re confident in our supply chain.
With a unit that has heating elements an obvious concern is safety. Our production timeline includes time for us to do a quality check on all of the kits before we send them out to you. However, these are kits so everyone will have to use caution when and where they operate them.
- (30 days)