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Custom Lexan and Vacuum Forming

Old 02-21-2013, 07:09 PM
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Default Custom Lexan and Vacuum Forming

I'm sure I'm not the only one that makes their own wings and bodies. If you're doing it or interested in starting I'd like to chat. This forum really needs a custom / homemade section.
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Old 02-22-2013, 02:55 AM
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I am very interested in how you make your own wings/bodies. I have no idea how to do it or what materials to use. Are there tutorials?
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Old 02-22-2013, 05:21 AM
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Originally Posted by knars22 View Post
I am very interested in how you make your own wings/bodies. I have no idea how to do it or what materials to use. Are there tutorials?
Another member asked the same thing. The lexan is cheap, it will cost you about $25- $30 a sheet which is about $1.50- $2.00 per 1/10 buggy body or pair of wings. I built my machine for nothing but i have alot of scroung around me. If i had to buy the materials it would be under $100 and that includes the digital controller. A regular shop vac or pvc accumulator system will work for almost anything. The drying process takes around 45 min. and the heating / forming takes around 2 min. You need to remember that this stuff is VERY HOT and 220 VOLTS. Attention is required.
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Old 02-22-2013, 03:25 PM
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Got a couple of questions. Where do you buy the lexan and how do you make the mold of the body? I saw a guy on youtube heating the lexan in his oven. Is this ok and how hot do you have it?
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Old 02-22-2013, 04:23 PM
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Default lexan sources

Most larger cities will stock lexan(polycarbonate) sheets at plastic supply places. A good way to find them is yellow pages or sign shops. The sign shops get their corrugated plastic sheets from those suppliers. There are several grades of lexan, just get the cheapest one you can to experiment with. Ive used a large oven as a heater and it doesnt work very well. The lexan forms best at 350f to 390f and by the time you get it out of the ovenand sucked down, it will be to cold to form well. Not to mention the initial blast that removes your eyebrows and the hand blisters that form from holding a metal frame that is 350f down until it cools. Also a pissed member of your family that sees you messing with their food oven.
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Old 02-22-2013, 04:27 PM
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Default molds

I use plaster molds. They are cheap, easy and dont last really long forcing me ti design new body styles frequently. MDF wood molds are longer lasting but harder to get smooth. Remember that the surface needs to be heat resistant so sealers and common paints arent good.
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Old 02-22-2013, 05:10 PM
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Care to list the things needed?
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Old 02-22-2013, 05:57 PM
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Default thermoformer

Originally Posted by Carranza76 View Post
Care to list the things needed?
I can putt some pics in an album for you to look at. Also checkout protoform. That guy gives a good idea of a machine but its complicated. If you have access to a 4 1/2" grinder, a welder, an oven broiler element, some round and square steel tube and a steel wall stud then youre really close. Checkout the pics when i get then up, its a really simple machine.
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Old 02-22-2013, 08:14 PM
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Default Very Hot!

Originally Posted by Lone Star View Post
Another member asked the same thing. The lexan is cheap, it will cost you about $25- $30 a sheet which is about $1.50- $2.00 per 1/10 buggy body or pair of wings. I built my machine for nothing but i have alot of scroung around me. If i had to buy the materials it would be under $100 and that includes the digital controller. A regular shop vac or pvc accumulator system will work for almost anything. The drying process takes around 45 min. and the heating / forming takes around 2 min. You need to remember that this stuff is VERY HOT and 220 VOLTS. Attention is required.
We use these gloves around the shop for the hot stuff!:

http://www.amazon.com/Exclusive-Glov...ref=pd_sim_k_2

We have a double pizza oven with digital controllers. I use the top for melting and the bottom for drying (removing the moisture from the lexan at relatively low heat ~180F)
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:21 AM
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Default controller

That sounds like a nice setup. My heater is in the hood and my frame handles are twist locking. I set my controller (digital love brand from grainger $52) at set point #1 - 190° and lock the frame up to the hood to dry. I also set the molds upside down on the top of the hood to heat up. When im ready to form i get a hot mold and set the controller to set point #2 - 410°. It sags and then tightens up at 310° them relaxes and sags. When ready i unlock the handles and slide down onto the mold. I have a foot switch on the vac and lock the frame down with a twist of the handles.
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Lone Star View Post
I use plaster molds. They are cheap, easy and dont last really long forcing me ti design new body styles frequently. MDF wood molds are longer lasting but harder to get smooth. Remember that the surface needs to be heat resistant so sealers and common paints arent good.
You could always build a MDF mold about .010 too small, then mix some JB weld epoxy and use as a "bondo" to cover the MDF. Its heat resistant and can be sanded/polished smooth.
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:50 PM
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How cost effective is this? I see the costs of the materials for the oven are pretty high plus you have to build molds and buy lexan. isn't it just cheaper to buy a body that is perfect?
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Old 02-23-2013, 01:44 PM
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Much cheaper if they make the body you want/need. The most expensive part of the whole equation is the time it takes to make the mold!
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Old 02-24-2013, 04:04 AM
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Originally Posted by PROMODVETTE View Post
Much cheaper if they make the body you want/need. The most expensive part of the whole equation is the time it takes to make the mold!
I agree....only makes sense to make something unavailable. As far as molds go whether you make a 3d model and have a CNC cut it out or carve it out by hand, that's the hard part! At least with the CNC you're assured of having a symmetrical model!

Another MDF tip: After you get to your general form, you can coat it with thin CA before you do your final finish sanding. Wear eye protection and a respirator. The surface finish you get after sanding will be hard and smooth and withstand a lot of pulls.
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Old 02-24-2013, 02:19 PM
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Someone wanna make me a few bodies for my Schumacher cars? I am so tired of this cab forward designs it isn't funny. I would love to have a couple "regular" looking bodies!!
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