Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Vacu-Form Success!

I ended up buying a small commercial vacu-forming machine.
This self-contained unit plugs in and handles the heating and forming operations. The heating plate is directly above and close to the vacuum table.

The unit came on Friday night. I immediately got to work on making a canopy for Saturday's NEFAR launch.
On the right is the first canopy I made. It was glued onto one of the F-16 prototypes. The black trim lines were cut from a vinyl sheet and are temporary. Water-slide trim will be included in the Odd'l rockets F-16 kit.

On the left top is an original Centuri fighter Fleet model. Below that is my first attempt at the vacu-formed canopy.

The profile turned out to be very close! I'll be using a thicker plastic on the kit run canopies. 


If you are only needing a single canopy I wouldn't recommend buying a vacu-form machine. You'd have to produce many units to justify the investment.

EDIT: I didn't add - to finally get a working canopy made was very rewarding. This sounds corny, but I had a Deja-vu rocketry feeling. You know, that feeling you got when you opened an Estes order box after waiting two weeks for it to arrive by mail. 


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Leo!
      And they'll only get better with practice. It was great to get the first one to form well and get it in the air!

  2. Hi Chris,
    This bird looks great. On my list to get.
    Have any time line when it well be available?

    1. Hi Frank!
      This was a slow one to develop, lots of little hurdles. I'm starting on the instructions next. All parts are here, I'll send out the laser cut parts order soon. It flys great!
      Thanks for helping out on Patreon! It's much appreciated!

  3. Interesting this discussion of vacuforming happening here and then this article on the verge: http://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/2/14/14610246/vaquform-desktop-vacuum-former-rapid-prototyping-kickstarter

    1. Hi Neil,
      Thanks for the link on the vacu-former. That one is probably bigger than what I need right now but it's good to know about it for the future.
      Thanks for helping out on Patreon!!!

  4. Very cool! I've purchased canopies from Guillows before, even found one for a 2X upscale strike fighter I need to finish. It will be nice to make your own! https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1466/25512401335_24175c48db_c.jpg