Vacuum Form Machines Used for Making RC Car Bodies
com, and today we’re, going to do a brief discussion on the machines that are used in the rc industry, both past and present, to make rc car bodies. So if you’re at home, when you’re doing a vacuum suction device, for you know shop vac for yours, you can maybe get an idea how you can improve your system or, if you’re, just curious, learn about how other people do it and how other companies are currently Doing it so this first photo is a historical photo from a company called andes that was around in the 80s and 90s very popular out in california, and here they’re using what’s called a skin packaging machine and a skin packaging machine normally would be used to package Up as just in the name, parts and merchandise to go, be sold in a retail environment, they take a piece of cardboard that usually has artwork duplicated on it that talks about that product or advertises that product. It could be four six eight sort of spots for it, duplicated all over and operator put that cardboard down. Then he put those actual products down on the cardboard and they bring in a roll of film into the frame, clamp it in place heat it up, bring it down over the parts and it would suck out the air and those would be trapped and encased in A thin sheet of film now on that cardboard, then you take the cardboard over to a machine that die cuts them all into their individual parts and maybe puts a hole in the top to go.
Hang on a hook so that’s a skin packaging machine and skip packaging machines, as you can see here, have been adapted to do other things and a lot of people that are running stuff at home. If you’ve seen the videos on how to do stuff, your machine is really in essence, an adaptation of a skin packaging machine which is okay, i’m, not a fan, but you know everyone has their opinions. I guess but yeah you can see here. I’Ll talk about the elements of the machine and how it’s made up here. So you have a cooling fan up here and that’s, going to be automatically controlled, usually by the controls, depending on the machine on this control panel, to go off at a certain time to either cool apart or cool the mold. You can have either one on some of the machines, then the next segment here is a heating element section and that normally can move back and forth from the front of the machine to the back and then there’s a curtain back here to help prevent some of That heat from coming forward and super heating up the operator of the machine, i kind of wish i had it on ours – we don’t but it’d – be a nice thing to have, because that heating element is going to be on all the time in the back, because You don’t want to wait for it to heat up. You got to keep your production rolling all the time, so those heating elements are going to be on constantly.
Then you have the frame here and that’s where the plastic is going to be clamped into place. Now, on a skin packaging machine, there would normally also be off to the left here, a big holder for a roll of plastic thin film really and then that will be brought into the frame heat it up, and then you bring it down there’s tracks on the Back here brings it down and meets the mold or buck, and you form your part, then under vacuum, and these are going to have typically just a big fan. Blower suction pump, something like that in there they can be if you order them from some companies. An optional purge tank like the higher end machines for vacuum, forming have that’s not really common, though that’s more uncommon than it is common, so that’s, an old historical one. Let’S, look at something that’s a little bit newer. This is mcallister and um. This is before they sold the company off to another gentleman. I would assume i don’t know for sure that he’s running maybe purchased the same equipment as running on the same equipment as they were doing before, but you can see, looks practically identical. I wouldn’t even be surprised if it isn’t the same company who made this that made that one way back when for andy’s, just the controls have been updated, which is pretty typical of industrial equipment and uh. You can see in here actually a little bit better.
The rail that that frame goes up and down on and you can see in this case the heater is in the retracted out of the way position and there’s that curtain a little more clearly and of course, then, the cooling fan mounted on uh here’s. Another picture from another angle: the same thing um you can see he’s using glove. You really want to have gloves when you’re doing this, because this stuff can get really hot. I use welder’s gloves that have good articulation in the fingers. I’Ve gone through at least one pair now over the years, i’ve got extras always on standby, because they, after a while they tend to get uh the seams, for whatever reason, come out of them fairly. Quick quickly. Excuse me and then uh let’s go back. Maybe a little bit even further in time. This is going to be probably the mid 80s to late 80s. This is the bowling factory out in georgia back in the day, and you can see they’ve got three stations here and you can tell that because they got these. Three cooling fans mounted to the ceiling here and there’s a little control thing even there for that. One and these are probably not technically skin packaging machines. These are going to be more of what’s called a shuttle machine, because the tray that has their clamps of plastic and everything is shuttled back into the heating environment and then brought out forward, and this one still goes down and meets the mold or buck um.
So it’s very similar to the skin packaging machine in that aspect, but yeah it’s not quite the same. I don’t know that this would have been. This can ever you know, be considered a skin package machine. You know, that’s been you know adapted. I don’t know for sure not familiar with that machine. Here’S, a close up of one of the machines very grainy. Unfortunately, you can see dials and knobs very primitive compared to even the andes one i think had a little bit more um sophistic sophisticated controls on it and, unfortunately, the best quality picture i can get of. These were a little postage stamp site. So i’ve blown these up quite a bit, hopefully on your screen. It looks fairly reasonable, but this is the bowling factory as well, and this is a couple of those machines running and you can see here one thing that i consider probably a thing not to do: they are trying to run multiple parts on their machine. At the same time, and what i’ll discuss here, you see got these two trucks around in here. I’Ve got two molds sitting right here in front of me, and these are from bow link originally and they are on their original base frames that would be used to attach them to the machine, and so they get screwed down into place, and then that gets them. You know securely fastened to the machine. I would not run two at a time on these and i’ve seen evidence of why you wouldn’t want to run it in bo link’s original products, and it has to do with the fact that unless you’ve got really good, precise heating zone control on your machine, which A lot of newer, better machines, even than what we have have very good, precise zone controller heating.
You will have a one body that might be great and another. One that’s got issues because it’s, maybe the plastic’s not forming over it quite quickly, because the plastic needs to be a little hotter and if you try and make adjustments to stuff. What you’ll find is that the one that was fine now starts to get not as good while you maybe the other one’s improving, and so you end up with one good body and one bad body or two bad bodies. Now, as you try and change things around, and so you kind of trade off efficiency for quality, and i prefer to try and just do them one at a time, because i prefer the quality aspect more than trying to save time and money in that in bulk. Manufacturing fast manufacturing, it would be great don’t get me wrong, but you really really need a machine. That’S got good zone heating control and my machine is not there. It does have some customizable controls, but it’s not to that level of some of the higher more expensive machines that are out there today. But uh let’s go back to this a little bit and talk about this machine here a little bit too so that tray came from in the back to out front here and you can then see it’s on some rails. Here it comes out on rails and there’s. A little guide thing or a piston there and then that’s going to go down and meet up with the bucks and the forms right there and give you your parts that you’re looking for.
I don’t know if these would have a blow off feature like we have on our machine or not. I forgot to mention this when i was recording the video originally but here’s, video of the machines that were used to create our bodies before we got our own equipment and you’ll see that in comparison to ours, the only major obvious difference when you first look at It is that the clamping system for the plastic is air, powered or pneumatic powered, but there’s a lot of other major differences in this machine that are less obvious. One that you can’t see in this video that’s, pretty major. But if you’re standing back you would see is this: has upper platen controller and upper sort of control features that allow something to come in and be pushed down from the top? This is our machine it’s cybee, sibi automation, they’re out of florida, which coincidentally j concepts. Another big body manufacturer that’s around today doing a lot of stuff a lot of great bodies they’re making they are actually fairly close by in florida and i’m, not surprised they’re, using this exact same equipment. Well, i don’t know if it’s exact same, but there are have or are using this same company’s equipment in their shop. There nice thing for them would be to get it to their shop. They probably didn’t have to do a whole lot to get it into their shop. I had to freight it up and if you’ve seen my video from years ago, i’ve got this equipment.
You know that it didn’t come in perfect condition, because the freight company tried to see how many parts they could break on it during shipment. So i would love to be able to just you know: go down the roadways and pick one up and bring it back to the shop, but that’s my machine and mine’s been modified and everything. But you can see the big difference between my machine and all those other machines you saw before is that on this one? The sheet goes back in the back. Of course, the heat like the bowling one and comes back out, but the frame doesn’t go up and down the platform or the platen that the mold and bold platform sit on go up into the plastic instead, so that’s, probably your biggest difference, uh between all those Machines you saw earlier, and they have their pluses and minuses. One thing i do like about a skin packaging machine, even though i not real fan of it compared to our machine, is that you can, if you want to bring that heating element out over your mold and form and use it to heat that up, which normally To get best results you do want to heat up your form or buck to a good temperature, probably around 200 some degrees to get best results. So your plastic doesn’t cool as quick, so we have to use a heat guns or i have to use heat guns on these molds to get them up to the proper temperature for best forming results, and it would be great to be able to just heat them Up with the heater and for a little bit over top of it, i wish i had that option, but there’s other trade offs.
This is more flexible machine for doing a lot of other stuff compared to the skin packaging machine, and you have a little bit different bases you can use as well. I prefer it. I would never go to a skin packaging machine for production, it’s uh, not something that i would want to do. There’S a one out there from formak. I think that’s a kind of almost like a skin packaging, but it brings the heater element out over the plastic, but the mold is down below and comes up into it, so it’s kind of reverse of ours and reverse of a skin packaging, machine sort of thing Or kind of like ours, but kind of more like a skin packaging machine, and that one has some features on it: i’d love to have, but the price tag is really really high and uh kind of out of my ballpark right now. It has. Is very nice machines, a lot of them depending on the model you’re looking at so yeah? I hope you learned something today.