FormBox: make beautiful things without a 3D printer

It's about time your vacuum cleaner got special powers

We love 3D printers and can’t wait to see them become more affordable and mainstream. They’re great for makers, enthusiasts, and for people starting small businesses creating crafts and other goodies. Today we’re excited by something completely different but with a similar goal. FormBox is an alternative to 3D printing but it could also make your 3D printer even better.

A vacuum former is an industrial tool where a sheet of plastic is heated to a temperature allowing it to be stretched over a mould and then coolest to take shape. They’re big and expensive so you usually find them in large factories where they have huge vacuum machines set up to suck the air from under the sheet. A London-based startup, Mayku Industries, has taken the same technology and shrunk it down to something you can use in your kitchen and uses your own vacuum cleaner.

Unlike a 3D printer, it doesn’t turn digital models into reality. Instead, it copies physical shapes to make new objects. The FromBox heats your material, which is then pulled tight over your template as air is sucked out by your own vacuum cleaner. The resulting 3D form could be the final product itself, or a mould to cast multiple products, or a template/stencil for chocolate or art. There are lot of different ways to use the FormBox so it’s really worth watching the video to see what can be done:

What we really like about the FormBox is that it could be a great alternative to 3D printers for some people, but could also compliment 3D printers for fast prototyping. You could design your mould on the computer, print it once with a 3D printer, use this to make a mould with the FormBox, and then make multiple objects using that mould rather than using the 3D printer over and over again which takes time and resources. The creators have so far filled moulds with resin, ice, foam, concrete, jelly, chocolate, plaster, and silicon.

Mayku say that development is going well and that they already have a great factory ready to mass produce the product. Now they just need enough orders to justify starting the process. They’ve taken to Kickstarter with a $50,000 target that has already been smashed at $197,517 with 28 days to go. The cheapest backing option that gets you your own FormBox is $349 (£250) plus shipping at $30 (£20.74). It’s a limited offer for early birds and they’re nearly all gone so act fast if you want it for this price.

Main image: Mayku Industries