May 6, 2016
If you’ve been paying attention to additive manufacturing (AM) news lately, you may get the feeling that desktop (AKA home) 3D printers haven’t quite turned out to be the gold mine some companies were expecting. First 3D Systems ditched the Cube, then MakerBot made the decision to outsource production of its 3D printers. Has the market for desktop AM systems reached the saturation point, or is the maker mania dying down?
A new company named Mayku is betting the makers are still out there. Rather than pinning its hopes on 3D printing, the company has instead turned to an old, reliable technology made over for (theoretically) easy home use: vacuum forming. In place of objects made in the complex arena of digital design, Mayku’s FormBox creates molds using existing objects, offering a new take on the home factory idea.
If nothing else, the FormBox certainly looks easy to operate. Users either find or create a shape or pattern and place it on the forming plate. Next, toss a fresh sheet of plastic in the system and wait for it to heat up. The shape of the object placed on the plate is then copied simply by pressing the plastic sheet down over your object, with vacuum power provided by actual vacuum cleaners.
Along with the basics for making molds, the FormBox also comes with casting material to ensure users are able to begin making stuff out-of-the-box. The nature of molds means that any material that won’t melt the plastic can be used to produce objects, opening the door for custom designs made in chocolate, concrete, plaster, etc. and then formed. For extremely simple designs, it’s also possible to use the system to directly produce objects by forming the shape in plastic.
Perhaps taking its cue from the aforementioned MakerBot, Mayku intends to offer design ideas in the form of a digital online library. Even if the site only acts as inspiration, nearly any attempt at creating an online community to help support your product is a good idea.
Below you’ll find the Kickstarter video for the FormBox, which, somewhat cheekily, includes an example of using a 3D printer to build objects that can then be used to create molds.