We want to produce vacuum formed plastic tiles inspired by design elements from our favorite Science Fiction films. You can decorate your home (or a film set) with them, use them in dioramas, as molds, etc.
Thermoforming is a process in which sheets of plastic are heated in an oven, then placed over a master form, usually made of epoxy, metal or wood. Vacuum pumps then quickly deform the hot plastic to the master shape, the cooled plastic is them removed and trimmed as needed. This process was famously used by Andrew Ainsworth of Shepperton Design Studio to produce storm trooper armour and helmets on a mass scale for the Star Wars films.
Our idea is to use thermoforming to produce a series of 8 inch square plastic tiles based on design elements from some of our favorite Sci-Fi films. The tiles can be used decoratively in your home, as a background for favorite props or model dioramas, etc.
The first design we have tackled are the concrete tiles from the Ennis House in Los Feliz. The Ennis House was designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright, and was the setting used as Deckard's conapt in the film Blade Runner. Please see the video above for more info.
The next tile we wanted to tackle is the surface of the Death Star. Using Joe Johnston's original drafting from the Star Wars Sketchbook, a resin master was made. Right now there is only one tile, but our stretch goals include some variations. We would also like to produce the door switch from the rancor pit as seen in ROTJ.
High Impact PolyStyrene accepts paint and ink (see the video) and can be cut and drilled with normal wood working tools. We suggest indoor use only, out of direct sunlight unless the tiles have been painted with a UV resistant finish. Maybe you would like to cover the ceiling of your bedroom with Death Star tiles, so when you look up at night it feels like you are diving down in an X-Wing on a trench run?
Since thermoforming creates a convex and concave side, the tiles can also be used as molds. Use them to pour your own concrete tiles, or slip cast ceramics for outdoor use. HIPS is also approved food safe by the FDA so you can use them to mold chocolate or jello... if the mood strikes ^_^
Why a Kickstarter:
Our master tiles were created by 3D printing and casting resin. The prototype thermoformed tiles, shown above, were made in our home oven with a small DIY vacuum press. While melting plastic in a home oven is lots of DIY fun, it is difficult to regulate the temperature and about 10%-20% of the tiles come out with defects. The Kickstarter funding will allow us to purchase a professional grade home use thermoforming machine from Formech. This machine will allow us to produce tiles much faster and with much higher quality control. This in turn brings the cost of the tiles WAY down! Instead of being able to form only 4 tiles an hour, we hope to produce closer to 30 an hour.
Our base funding goal will allow us to produce the two tile designs shown above. Every $3000 over our goal will allow us to produce another variation master tile of the Death Star surface, and also the door switch from the rancor pit scene in ROTJ (the button Luke hurls a skull at).
We also have a funding goal that allows you to order a custom master tile (8"x8" max) and have us thermoform some tiles specially for you. Want some Giger inspired Alien decor? Maybe you need a few hundred components for your storm trooper legion?
If you can't help with funding but still think this is a neat project, please consider sharing with your friends on twitter, pinterest, facebook, tumblr, etc...
Risks and challenges
We learned from our last successful Kickstarter project that the real challenge lies in shipping. Our passion is for the creation of the project, but shipping is the real brunt of the work! The masters have been made, the prototypes look good. We learned some lessons from our last project, and look forward to a successful campaign with this new goal!
Learn about accountability on Kickstarter