Adam Savage's Favorite Tools: Great Budget Vacuum Former!

Joylandi 8-Iyn, 2021
You can watch Adam demo this Vacuum Former in VR with Oculus TV!

One of the most useful tools for a small scale modelmaker is a vacuum forming machine, which lets you make lightweight plastic copies of model or prop parts quickly. Adam shows us the vacuum former he built while he was a professional modelmaker, and then demonstrates a small dental vacuum forming machine that is a great way to get started without spending a lot of money.

Budget Dental Vacuum Former:
.03" Styrene sheets:

More about Adam's old vacuum former:
Shot and edited by Norman Chan

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Thanks for watching!


  • Budget Dental Vacuum Former: .03" Styrene sheets: You can watch Adam demo this Vacuum Former in VR with Oculus TV! More about Adam's old vacuum former:

    • Great thing. Ordered one and it arrives tomorrow. Quick question - the two grey parts that were being used as formers. What are they made from? 💚🐇🐴💚

    • Am I the only one who thinks this beautiful machine can pull off a robot in the Star Wars Universe?

    • Adam - call your buck a pattern (or plug) and you're forming cavity molds for casting. Quick way to clone parts from an original

    • @Isaac Love that is a good idea i bet he will build one from scratch one day

    • Should replace those two switches with a three-way switch so that it is not possible to have the heat and vacuum on at the same time

  • I've been able to pre-color my styrene with markers, I've used Chartpak and Prismacolor markers. Getting the color layout to match exactly where you have your part, well thats a bit of trial and error, just don't burn it..

  • We have green polystyrene :P mixed with a green pigment

  • And Adam isn't building a scaled up version of that???????

  • please! tested, leave it to the solo videos from now on, i dont like the other style, I feel like when adam was filming them himself it was more welcoming.

  • I just received mine in the mail, still waiting on the styrene sheets. I had a quick question, in the box there’s a smaller box (which I haven’t opened yet) that sounds like it has some sort of loose metal or sand? What is it and what is it for?

  • this is too cool, though if I may, the blowthroughs indicate the plastics was overheated and far too malleable/liquid. Since the plastic sags under its own weight, gauging the sag by portion instead of absolute measurement has yielded a more consistent result for me. the camera angle for the last pull appeared to show a sag of between 1/3 and 1/2 the frame width, and a blowthrough.

  • Once again special effects modelers and scale modelers tool needs overlap. I would tend to reproduce small parts using RTV molds and two part epoxy, but this vacuum molding would certainly be the preferred method for applications where weight is critical, like RC airplanes.

  • You can get all sorts of colors as party plates look for #6 plastic plates. I got one of these four our makerspace about 7 years ago! i love it!

  • For those of us who have had and still use the ancient Mattel Vac-u-former from the late 60s, watching a home machine pull even 30 thou sheet is impressive. 60 thou is amazing!

  • I got one of these six months ago. To hey existed 20 years ago. But only recently have the Chinese copied it and lowered the price. The high quality ones cost around 900 euros.

  • That's really a cool tool! Thanks, Adam!

  • Really nice for small jobs, and what's really neat is the frame on this is held up from the platen on a riser, so that the plastic has to expand to the base of the buck instead of having to shrink to the base of the buck and create webbing. I went the home built route of a plywood sheet with a vacuum cleaner hose in the middle, and used the kitchen oven to heat the plastic. The upside was that it can take any size frame I want to build so that I'm not wasting plastic.

  • I've been using one of those machines for a few years now to make model car parts ( body panels, molds, windshields ect ) and I absolutely love it!

  • Really informative. Thanks. The sheets are 5" x 5". Looks like about .5" boarder on each side of the finished form, thus a little under 4" x 4" maximum usable space. What do you say is the maximum dimensions of the form you can create with this? Thanks again! 💘 your shows!

  • “Suckage”

  • I've never seen this kind of dental vaccuum forming machine. The ones I always used had a bed of metal pellets where you put the model in. The plus side is, that you can adjust the model in every angle you want and even just make a form of the tips of the model. The downside is that you'll have small metal pellets all over your workshop.

  • It's almost serene seeing the camera move while Adam works.

  • Inject compressed air along one side of the model you need to separate from the plastic. Enough may leak in to pop the part out. You could even design the parts with a hole specifically for injecting the air.

  • Adam I work in vacuum forming I find this little product amazing can't wait to tell my boss about it I work on a machine that's ten times this size and I vacuum form 3/8 polycarbonate on a large scale

  • 13:29 Adam finally shows us his FINAL FORM.

  • Thank you for this. I've always wanted a good vacuum form.

  • cool !

  • Adam should find someone to build a vacuum former to his specs and sell them. He seems to have the knowledge about what works for makers and definitely has connections to source materials. Seems to be an open market and seems like a device that could be put together effectively and doesn’t have many parts or electronics.

  • The irony is an hour ago I was helping my dentist friend build a make shift vacuum former for his model lightsaber.

  • i love how vaccum forming is just hi-tech shrinky-dinks shrinkydinks are also made out of polystyrene

  • I work with this everyday. I'm a dental assistant and I've been an Adam Savage fan for decades!

  • This seems perfect for forming a small cone for a 5" loudspeaker driver... I wonder if I can put this little former to the higher powers at work. less wastage!!

  • Nasa destroyed him ....poor guy

  • Try Hefty party cups for colorful polystyrene

  • I've been using one of these for YEARS. There is a newer budget vacform machine they sell at Michael's with a slightly bigger bed but it has a learning curve and requires your own vacuum which isn't that big of a deal. These dental ones are amazing for small stuff.

  • Serious question in need of a serious answer: I recycle about 90% of what I bring into my home. Cardboard, bottles, bottlecaps, *blister packs*, etc, etc. Can I remelt this short of stuff using a vacuum mold?

  • 5:44 ahh yes this will be perfect for my model garbage truck collection. p.s. a garbage truck just drove by as I was watching this and I had to go back and double check it wasn't on the video lol

  • f Creativity Street PACON plastic art sheets, assorted eight colors, 11. Amazon not sure if it's colored styrene or not.

  • This is getting expencive... finding myself ordering most of the useful tools suggested by Adam, and so far all of the once I´ve ordered have been worth it!

  • your real camera looks worse than before

  • Adam's enthusiasm is so fun to watch, even if you don't care about the topic he's currently talking about. The dude beams with excitement. You get the feeling he's one of those people who says, "I CAN'T BELIEVE I GET TO DO THIS FOR A LIVING!" at least once a day. I love it.

  • In one of the demo videos on Amazon, they add a bed of 2mm bearings so that the object you’re forming around can be raised up.

  • Thanks for the video. Seems like a great tool, but I’m not sure I know the uses for the vacuum formed parts. A video describing wha you can do with them would be great!

  • Can the poly be used as a mold for epoxy?

  • Adam is so excited. I think he will keep it on his bedside table

  • For colored styrene, I got some from a guy, who made those carved name plates. There are usually 2 or 3 sheets laminated together.

  • The price skyrocketed since this video was posted. 🤯

  • "interstices", what a fun word to learn :)

  • Great tip and share thank you!

  • Thanks for showcasing this cost-effective gadget which will find numerous uses in my shop as well. BTW, I am sure you can add a temperature controller/timer and a digital readout, etc. to really soup this up for which makes it a very versatile unit

  • How do you do this?! I have been looking into something like this and you make a video about it! Like... wtf. Thank you!!

  • Thank you for not cutting or fast forwarding the cool bits!

  • I had a toy back in the 60’s that did this . I think it was called “mold maker” I think . Then you could make things.

    • I saw a modern one at Bargain Hunt earlier this year.

  • Finally a way to duplicate parts that take me 20 hours without having to make each individual one... LIFE SAVER Adam

  • And just like that the price jumps 50% from 120 to 180...

  • Is it just me, or did Adam actually just make a video with very little rambling and decent enough editing? I feel like anyone who wants or needs a smaller vacuum former would get a lot out of this video. Color me shocked.

  • interstices, you are honestly my word a 'day'

  • Wow that is amazing! Thank you for reviewing this, it looks amazing and so small and convenient. So cool..well love your channel!

  • Huh. I was planning to build myself a cheap, homemade, 40x50cm vacuum former that would cost me around 10-20usd (making use of the kitchen oven and a vacuum cleaner I already have) but I was thinking that perhaps it's not worth it and I could probably just buy a professional vacuum former for around 35usd. Learning that this tiny thing costs 120-170usd really seals the deal for me. :o I'm building the 10-20usd one myself, no regrets!! :o

  • ... and just like that they raised the price to $163 + $4 shipping. Lol.

  • Very nice!

  • Looks great, loved you phone video style as well. Tried to Make my own wonky vacuum former from a You tube video, works well on You tube.

  • does that look exactly like a bubble gum dispenser on purpose?!, or just a happy accident? 🤩

  • And the Amazon sellers have already bumped the price to $150+ :/

    • ​@Adam Savage Hmmm, nothing fishy about this.

    • Thanks for the love and support you've shown over the years! Feel free to message me directly here on my private Gmail. address! or you can also reach me on my personal Whatsapp Number +1 (903) 500-4375 Stay safe and stay healthy.

  • Who else had one when they were 12 years old?

  • i like the other style like filming on iphone going with the flow alot better

  • This is life changing! I can't believe it. I'm definitely getting me one of these

  • Someone tell William Jakespeare

  • We're still not post covid yet. Tens of thousands of people are still getting sick. And hundreds of people are still dying every day.

  • Very nice lesson on vacuform, thank you!

  • I remember in the 60's, Mattel came out with a vacuum former. It was slightly smaller than Adam's red machine. One side had a hot plate, the other had the vacuum side with a hand pump & a plastic holder you would flip over from heater to former, then you had a handle for the hand pump. I got one for Xmas but didn't try it for a while because I had to save my allowance for plastic sheets. It had a few pieces to start but like a typical guy, I didn't read directions. I needed a couple of boats for flat car loads & I wanted different color boats. After a couple fo failures, I read the directions. Now once I mastered the procedure, I had so many boats I had to get more flat cars. Boy, was I happy my father liked trains, my mother lost her basement every winter to a gigantic layout. Best use we got out of the 5 ping pong tables (summer they doubled as buffet table when the family came to visit). I miss those days building with my dad even though he hated that my modeling was better! I wished I had kept that vacuum former.

  • I nearly bought one of these but I didn’t think it would work that well and it’s so small. I recently bought a used shop vac and toaster oven to build my own. Guess I’m getting this one too!

  • Why does it look exactly like a darlek lol?

  • Now that you've posted this, they're up to $160 :P

  • I built my vacuum former out of the metal from a fold up picnic table, a george foreman grill, a home made A4 platen, and an old hoover.

  • That's funny, just yesterday I threw away a Micro-Mark catalog from 2012 with that vacuum former on the front cover.

  • I love that little guy!!!

  • Its very Dalek like, isn't it...

  • @6:25 Though, I imagine, you shouldn't put it away hot. Like horses.

  • I know it’s probably easier for Adam, but I don’t love this camera as much as the more impromptu shooting from Adam, because you get more personal and closer up shoots.

  • had one close to 2 years now, such a good little machine for any shop

  • $289 Canadian. Nope

  • I will never use one of these. Can’t think of a single potential use in my life but I enjoyed the video and watched it till the end.

  • I will never use one of these. Can’t think of a single potential use in my life but I enjoyed the video.

  • SO cool! Also video quality is superb :)

  • Chocolate forms.... Just sayin'... 👀

  • If you had an application where precise dimensions or surface detail was important, could you make a vacuum form of the inside of another vacuum form?

  • I bought one of these yesterday on Amazon after seeing this video, today when looking at the options they all jumped about $20-$30 higher then before.

  • I need to rebuild my vacuum former…

  • Any opinion on this new one?

  • Who remembers the Mattel Vacuum Former toy?

  • Everyone in the UK:

  • Been eyeing these for a while. Just hope the price doesn't skyrocket now the allfather has shown the world.

  • I do a lot of vacuum clamping of wood parts and to get a stronger initial pull I added a vacuum tank under my bench. 8 ft of Sch40 6” PVC capped at both ends. Pump pulls the tank down then a foot pedal valve opens the clamping fixture to the vacuum. Probably won’t work with the little dental vac-u-form but if you have a shop made bigger one it might.

  • Every time i see the big vaccuumformer. I think it's a popcorn cart. Does anyone else have that?

  • Well, ya sold me... Thanks for the infomercial

  • Vacuum forming is how Adam made all of the ballistic gel dummies on myth busters.

  • Very nice. I’ve been using one most weeks for the last 30 years in my Dental Laboratory. Don’t forget you can fill the bottom area above the vacuum with ball bearings to allow different depths of form. This also means you can place items in that have an undercut and use the ball bearings to stop the form being pulled into the undercut. Great channel mate !

  • OOOHHHH NICE!!! Now to see if I can find one in the UK edit; Totally available in the UK!

  • Adam talking about tools and the advice about making gives off serious Wallace from Aardman Animations vibes. And I am 100% supportive of that.

  • micro mark has this for $124.00 online.

  • While I do admire your work during lockdown and your efforts with the mobile phone, Adam, I am very pleased you have your camera man back in the shop with you!! :D

  • Great tool tip, nice little machine!

  • Great tool tip, nice little machine!