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Product Designers, This Device Wants to Help You Build a Home Assembly Line

The FormBox vacuum forming machine wants to help solve the home factory puzzle

While working as an industrial designer, British creative Benjamin Redford became pretty familiar with Chinese factories. During a tour of such facilities while he was still working for Mint Design, he thought, why not find a way to bring manufacturing back home, in a way that’s easily accessible to everyone?

The result is the FormBox, a tabletop device that wants to make the vacuum forming process accessible from anybody’s workbench. Created by Mayku, a company Redford co-founded at the Makerversity space in London, it’s a device that hopes to compliment 3D printing and expand the possibilities of home product manufacturing. Think industrial mold-making, reduced to maker-sized proportions.

"There’s still a lot of hype surrounding 3D printing," says Redford. "We think we can help make the technology more approachable and useful. We think it would be amazing to make a phone in Chicago instead of China. We want you to be able to create a raw assembly line in your house."

The FormBox, which can be powered by a home vacuum machine, heats and then pulls plastic over a shape or mold, making it easier and cheaper to replicate objects or designs. Makers or industrial designers can now prototype a piece on a 3D printer, and then create a mold with the Mayku machine. For example, a pot made using 3D printing can be turned into a mold that can be used to make a series of concrete, resin, or plastic replicas. Short runs of products become more affordable, Redford says, since the mold cuts down on material costs associated with repeated 3D printing.

Currently a Kickstarter project, the FormBox, which starts at $349 for a machine and starter kit, should be built and delivered to supporters by next spring. Since they’ve hit their goals, Redford hopes the FormBox is just the beginning of a wider range of devices in Mayku's lineup, including a desktop rotational molder that’s currently in the prototype stage.

"We want to bring these massive, industrial-machines to people’s desks," he says.

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