Phil Barnhart is the owner of  ProtoVision Displays. He uses his Quantum Max CNC Router to make vacuum-forming molds for the back of the signs he creates.

"I use a 1/4" endmill to rough out the shape, then a 1/4" tapered ball nose to give the mold a draft angle so that after I form plastic around it, the mold pops out easily. I also run a 1/4" round-over bit in a Milwaukee M18 trim router to give the top edge a radius. The three steps take about a half hour, whereas I could make the same mold as a 3D carve and it would take many hours."

After creating the mold, he uses his vac-forming machine to form the plastic. After the plastic is trimmed and filled with LEDs and electronics, the front of the sign is attached. 

Molding process Video:

To see more of Phil's work, check out his website!

March 02, 2023 — Kristin Allison