I'm always on the lookout for accessories and devices that compliment my 3D printing and how those devices can benefit you, the reader. The Formbox by Mayku completes any workshop or homemaker space by supplying another avenue to use your 3D prints, in this case by creating vacuum formed molds.
This Formbox was loaned to us for the purposes of the review by Mayku, and I've been using it for almost a month. The model was a retail box so everything reviewed here comes as standard.
It is such a well-designed piece of technology, it's a shame the vacuum is not included.
- Beautiful Design.
- Simple to set up and use.
- Large starting stock.
- Perfect for garage businesses.
- Does not include the vacuum.
- Not as cheap as DIY.
What you'll like about the Formbox
The Formbox from Mayku can be used for a myriad of projects. It is designed to simply and easily create molds out of just about any shape that you can then repeatable make the same product from. Whether you want to make that product from, silicone, soap, candle wax, or even cement, the Formbox will create the exact shape you need from the model you give it.
The design of the Formbox is simple, a heating element in the top and a vacuum hose at the bottom. In the middle is the clamp to put your sheet of plastic — it comes with 30 sheets of two thicknesses to get you started — and below that grid to help the vacuum disperse around your model.
All you need to do to start forming is set the timer and heat settings it tells you to on the sheet you are using, lift the clamped sheet up to the element, and wait for the timer to buzz. Once it does just pull the plastic down over the model and the vacuum will switch on automatically and suck the plastic around your model. It really is that simple.
The simplicity of the Formbox is what makes it a joy to use. If you are like my wife, a creator of things to sell on Etsy, this is an excellent tool to help you not only semi-mass produce products but to package them as well. By creating plastic inserts to go in boxes you can keep your products safe for your customers. Just be careful to follow the Mayku instructions as it is very easy to seal your product inside the plastic instead of just holding it securely.
The Formbox comes with everything you need to get started. 30 sheets of plastic for you to create molds and even a 2kg bag of plaster to get you creating straight away. It also comes with three models for you to practice on so you can get your designs perfect the first time.
I really enjoyed making molds with the Formbox over the last few weeks. My wife and I had some fun making chocolates and I 3D printed a custom chocolate bar mold just for her which I think came out really well, as well as a 3D printed octopus which I renamed to Choctopus because I'm awesome. There are so many great uses for the Formbox, especially for those who want to create perfect replications of their products.
What you will not like about the Formbox
Despite the Formbox being a very well made machine — everything feels solid and even the smallest hinge feels precision-engineered — it has a high price. At $740 for the educational bundle (opens in new tab) you would need to be confident that you are getting your monies worth. Now if you are a small business owner of any kind then the Formbox would pay for itself many times over with the variety of products you could make with it.
Another thing to note is the heat the Formbox produces to form the plastic is pretty high. I found the 3D models I used became soft after prolonged exposure to the heat. I found that you need to put the model on the bed at the last moment and that, though the model may get deformed after the procedure, the actual vacuum mold was exactly right. Of course, if you are making molds of something other than PLA plastic this won't be a problem for you.
Finally, you have to use your own vacuum. Now the Formbox does come with a helpful universal hose that will connect to any household or workshop vacuum and it has an automatic starter built into the machine to turn the vacuum on at the right time but it would feel like a more complete system if it had an internal vacuum system.
Should you buy the Formbox?
Formbox really is a joy to use. It has solved a few problems in my workshop, like fun pots to put things in, and molds for some designs I'm working on, but its true selling point is for the maker looking to move beyond a hobbyist. The Formbox gives you choices you didn't know you had and allows you to make perfect recreations of your projects.
It is such a well-designed piece of technology, it's a shame the vacuum is not included. Pick up the Formbox if you want to move to the next level of creating.
James built his first PC when he was 13 and has never looked back. He can be found on Windows Central, usually in the corner where all the 3D printers are, or huddled around the Xbox playing the latest games.
The cost is high but for me it was worth it to not have to make my own former. I use this machine in tandem with my 3D printer and it's a life saver on time. I work with props and it I need a castable mold this will get me that in minutes. I got mine from RoboSavvy and they had some good advice on whether it was right for me. And a word for the wise. make sure you pick the correct power plug, this is my only negitive comment so far. I almost chose the EU plug rather than UK and it turns out the power cord is built in. But as long as you aren't planning on bringing it to another country anytime soon I wouldn't worry about that. I am looking forward to trying out other materials in the castings and modl making process :)
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