Star Wars Merchandise Thanks to Efficient Vacuum Technology from Busch Vacuum Solutions

28.07.2022
It all began in 1977 with the original Star Wars film and the battle of the dark side of the Force against the light side. Since then, the Star Wars empire has developed rapidly. In addition to numerous films and series, there are also endless merchandise products that have a high demand around the world.
Star Wars Merchandise Thanks to Efficient Vacuum Technology from Busch Vacuum Solutions

Original Stormtrooper Hero Imperial Helmet. (Image source: Sporting Composites Ltd.)

Star Wars has become a valuable brand over the years. Fans all over the world spend a lot of money on fan merchandise. This is also the case for the original Stormtrooper helmets. These are still handmade today in Twickenham in England and have a high emotional value for collectors all over the world. Vacuum technology from Busch is used in the production of the plastic helmets. With the help of R5 rotary vane vacuum pumps, the helmets are molded from plastic.

Sporting Composites Ltd produces the Stormtrooper Hero helmets in the Shepperton Design Studios to this day after the original form of 1976. At that time, the original helmet was made by Andrew Ainsworth for the first Star Wars movie. The helmets are still made by hand and even hand painted.  Six employees work at the factory in Twickenham and produce not only the Stormtrooper helmets but also original Star Wars armor and props. The Hero Helmets are made of two-millimeter-thick ABS and are cast in the original molds of yesteryear. To date, the helmets are not completely symmetrical. This can be attributed to the fact that when the mold was made in the 70s, there were neither CNC machines nor AUTO-CAD. The mold consists of two parts, which at the time when casting the helmet for the Star Wars movie did not fit one hundred percent on each other. But since Andre Ainsworth only had two days until the start of filming, he shaved off one side by hand until the two halves fit together. And so, the asymmetrical original helmet was created, whose characteristic shape has not been changed to this day with the help of modern CAD programs.

When molding the ABS helmet parts, it is crucial that a clearly defined vacuum is applied to gently pull the material into shape. Since the helmets are only two millimeters thick, vacuum technology is critical to the quality of the molded parts. Previously, a piston unit provided the vacuum needed to produce the Stormtrooper helmets. This was not only enormously loud and thus a noise nuisance for the employees, but it was also no longer state of the art. When the previous solution failed completely, a reliable replacement was needed quickly. The Shepperton Design Studios therefore contacted the vacuum experts at Busch. They were able to offer a suitable solution in the form of the R5 rotary vane vacuum pump. These vacuum pumps are characterized above all by high pumping speeds even in low pressure ranges and thus fast evacuation times. The heavy-duty rotary vane design ensures reliable performance and long pump life. R5 RA vacuum pumps are designed for continuous operation and are resistant to ultimate pressure. They can be operated continuously at ultimate pressure without overheating. This makes them ideally suited for use in plastic molding.

Since the loss of helmet production had to be prevented, Busch provided a loaner pump until the vacuum pump that was actually ordered could be delivered. The new Busch rotary vane vacuum pump used is not only a lot quieter, but also works a lot more efficiently. Shepperton Design Studios is pleased that the production of the Stormtrooper helmets is still secured thanks to the new vacuum solution. This means that Star Wars fans all over the world can continue to look forward to their faithful collector's items in the future.

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