Machining Your Own CNC Vacuum Pods

You can make your own vacuum pods out of PVC. Here's some advice on how to do it. August 14, 2007

I am currently using aluminum pods for hold down. At the IWF this past summer I noticed a lot of exhibitors were using a plastic composite for pods. This would be simple to machine my pods myself on my CNC. Any idea on where I can get this material? Does anyone have experience with it?

Forum Responses
(CNC Forum)
From contributor E:
I'm using a rubber type material that requires no gasket. It works great. Check out

From contributor B:
A lot of people (myself included) machine their own pods out of PVC. It machines cleanly and easily. Various thicknesses can be purchased anywhere from 12" x 12" squares to large sheets. My current pods were machined out of 3/4" x 12" x 12" squares, 8 pods to the square if I remember right. I just purchased a 1" thick square to make a new design pod.

PVC can be purchased from most any plastics supplier. I get it from McMaster-Carr. One nice thing about the PVC sheet stock I use is that it is dark grey in color. When we hit a pod, I get out the PC-7 epoxy and patch up the pod. The PC-7 is an almost dead on color match and sticks to the PVC. Makes for great repairs. Just do a McMaster-Carr sight search for "PVC sheets".

From the original questioner:
Sounds great. My only challenge is that my pods are 8" in height.

From contributor B:
Could you build a base and apply PVC to the top surface?

From contributor L:
PVC works fine, just be aware when machining this stuff it puts off chlorine gas, which is not good for people and not good for the machine either (it causes corrosion, pretty much the same thing it does to your lungs, if not well ventilated). Just epoxy and stack the layers of parts together like a cake, after they have been machined. Make the stack as big (tall) as you need to, and machine them all the same thickness, if "Z" is critical.

From contributor B:
Thanks for reminding me about the chlorine outgassing. I'd forgotten all about that.