|Heats sheets of plastic until soft, then conforms it to a mold using a vacuum pump.|
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The vacuum former is currently out of order and under restoration - it failed its past PAT test
This machine is used to form thin plastic shells around molds, or forms, held on the movable platten. A small vacuum pump is used to evacuate all the air from around the form and to suck the plastic tightly around it. After the plastic has cooled sufficiently the pump can be reversed to "blow" the plastic off the form.
The heating element has been replaced, but it still needs re-certifying as electrically safe.
Ceramic heating elements
A number of heating elements are used to soften the plastic prior to forming. Unfortunately one is currently broken and is probably the cause of the failed PAT test. There are two different styles of elements - long thin rectangles used on the front and back edges and slight stubbier ones used in the centre. This allows the inner and outer sections to be turned on independently.
It is difficult to find long, flat heating elements with the correct dimensions (245 mm x 60 mm) but the companion element is of the curved style, readily available from eBay/AliExpress for use in terrariums and BGA soldering stations.
A replacement has been ordered from China, but it will be a while until it arrives.