BlowFab are rigid and reusable objects that are easy to make using inflation of plastic sheets. You can make a balloon by simply using masking tape and two plastic sheets that become soft and adhere when heated. The inner area of one plastic sheet is covered with masking tape to prevent the sheets from sticking. The outer edges without the tape will fuse by pressing the sheets together on a hot plate. The sheets become soft when heated and become hard when cooled down. Warm it up and inflate it to make your favorite shapes!
- Plastic sheet (PET (polyethylene terephthalate) sheet of 0.5~1.0mm thickness, PVC can also be used. However DO NOT cut PVC with a laser cutter since it will produce chlorine gas. Use a cutter instead.)
- Cutting pattern printed on paper (pdf : blowfab)
- Masking tape (0.083mm thickness)
- Double-sided tape
Tools and Equipments
- Hot plate
- Heat resistant gloves
Mask the plastic sheet with masking tape.
Tape the masked plastic sheet on to the pattern paper with double-sided tape. (Download the pattern data at the bottom of this site). The masked side should be facing up.
3Cut the masking tape
Cut the masking tape along the inner red line of the pattern paper with a cutter.
4Cut the plastic sheet
Cut the plastic sheet along the outer black line of the pattern paper with scissors.
5Remove paper and tape
Peel off the pattern paper and the masking tape at the edge of the plastic sheet. Leave the masking tape in the middle area.
6Make another plastic sheet
Tape another plastic sheet without masking tape on to the pattern paper. Cut the plastic sheet along the outer line of the pattern paper.
7Ready for heating
Mask the hot plate with masking tape. (Without it, the plastic sheet may stick when warming it up.) Heat up to 180℃.
Now, it is heating time. Wear the heat resistant gloves. Stack the sheets together with the masked side facing inward and insert a straw between the sheets. Heat the sheets while pressing them with a spatula. Flip it over and warm both sides.
Blow air through the straw and inflate the balloon!
It will harden when it cools down.
Reheat it on the hot plate. It will become flat again.
By changing the patterns, you can make various shapes!
- Cutting pattern : blowfab (pdf)
- Instructor in video : Junichi Yamaoka
- Research page : BlowFab
- Research movie : BlowFab (UIST 2017, honorable mention)
- Research paper : BlowFab: Rapid Prototyping for Rigid and Reusable Objects using Inflation of Laser-cut Surfaces