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.