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The Thermoforming lab houses two major pieces of equipment, a thermoforming oven and a large format CNC foam cutter. Both machines are typically used in CAAD’s digital fabrication classes, as well as research projects led by faculty.
A vacuum former is a large industrial machine used widely to make prototypes and consumer goods by heating specialized plastic to the forming temperature. Hot plastic is then draped over a forming mold (made of heat resistant material) and the air between is vacuumed out through a special table. The formed plastic can then be used as is or for casting other materials.
Our vacuum forming oven is setup for a standard forming area of 1200mm x 550mm, with a maximum mold height, depending on various factors, is between 50mm and 300mm.
This machine uses a computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) metal wire to create complex shapes through successive cuts. Line drawings are used to define a path for the wire to travel, and 3D Rhino models can be used to create cutting files. Only expanded or extruded polystyrene may be used with this large industrial machine.
Once the digital file has been prepared discuss it with the Digital Fabrication Lab specialist for specific preparation requirements. After the file(s) have been updated send an email to the lab specialist with details of the job (size of material, type of material, course name) and Rhino file.
CAAD Labs staff will check if everything is in order and confirm the cutting date. On the day of your foam cutting job, bring the stock material to the Thermoforming Lab 10 min before the starting time.
For large projects or class requirements students may be trained to use the machine and granted card access for one semester.
Access to both machines will only be provided to students who received an orientation by our Digital Fabrication Labs Specialist Access is granted only to students currently enrolled in CAAD courses, as well as faculty, staff and pre-authorized students.
Please refer to Appendix C of the CAAD Labs’ Policies and Procedures Manual for this lab’s policies, along with other general lab policies.