3D printers make a valuable addition to the facilities in any workshop and are currently very popular. They are not only handy for prototype production, but also for makers and all sorts of self-builders. It’s fair to say that they are often tricky to setup and the surface finish can be a bit rough. They are also quite slow to produce the printed item. The FormBox by Mayku uses a negative pressure to draw a heat-softened plastic sheet around the surface of a physical model. The cooling and curing process is quite fast, so that precise 3D objects and shapes can be created in just a few minutes.
As purely analogue technology you don’t need any computer or software. The templates can be almost any physical object providing they do not have deep features in their surface. Models made from wood, softwood, MDF, metal, many plastics, PLA and ABS resins, cardboard stacks, air-dried clay, salt dough and even foods such as potatoes, apples, carrots or bananas are suitable. The finished moulded sheet can be used directly or as a mould into which you can pour materials such as concrete, gypsum, silicone, Jesmonite, soap, chocolate, jelly and ice. In small companies, the FormBox can be used to produce small series of bespoke products. For more complex projects you could also create templates with a 3D printer and then quickly reproduce them using the FormBox.
This technique is suitable for use with 0.25 to 1.5 mm thick thermoplastic sheets, available in many colours and material types including food grade materials suitable for a wide range of uses. With the space-saving dimensions of 46.6 x 27.4 x 31.5 cm (WxDxH), the Formbox does not need much more space than a laptop on a desk. The working surface area is 20 x 20 cm with a 13 cm drawing depth. The price tag for this neat bit of kit is € 650.