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Take one of the home made vacuum formers, where the top
of the box is usually a peg board (ie an array of drilled holes
to let the air be sucked out), and replace that with a pin
board similar to what's used for art or as a childrend's toy.
Use it by lifting the top off and placing over an object
the pin heights, then lock the pins in place, and replace on
the vacuum former. Do vacuum forming as normal. Bingo -
rapid prototyping without the need to create a model.
(Below: link to a vacuum former and a pin box toy for
pin array toy
pin array would look a little like this [gtoal, Feb 05 2021]
this style of vacuum former [gtoal, Feb 05 2021]
DYNAPIXEL: automated, reconfigurable molds
By means of a discretization of the tool surface with actuated pins, rapid prototypes or customer-specific components can be created without recurring tooling costs. [xaviergisz, Feb 06 2021]
1d: contour gauge
a 2d version of this...? [gtoal, Feb 10 2021]
similar to dynapixel but clunkier - with video...
rather chunky computer-controlled version [gtoal, Feb 10 2021]
||As one who's done thermoforming in the real world, I can tell
you that you'll have a hard time extracting the pinheads off
of the plastic.
||The important thing is not to use too much force; just go and get a bigger hammer.
||I use and teach the use of a vac former to Art
students of all disciplines and the one thing that
you can never do is use an object with undercuts.
You can put it in, but once the plastic is sucked
around the undercut, the object is captured and
must be cut open to free it. Combining vac
forming with rapid prototyping sounds like an
interesting prospect, but to what advantage?
||Well played, [xaviergisz].
||Yep, that dynapixel sure looks like what I was thinking of.
||Eh, you get a bun anyway. Clever idea.
||Actually the linked device (and others from this older idea
'Pin Matrix Terminal') are overkill compared to what I was
suggesting - just a mechanical matrix like the toy, not a
computer-controlled one... More a 2-dimensional version of
a contour gauge.