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Pop Panel is an exploration in the relationship of mold creation and customization. The manufacturing of molds for vacuum forming is often the most cost intensive process, making it difficult to create mass customized objects. Bubble wrap is an inexpensive and fun material to work with that solves many issues of customization. It can be popped in selected patterns and vacuum formed much easier than traditionally made molds, providing variation across a panelized system.

The panels are created by vacuum forming .02” clear acetate over the selectively popped bubble wrap. A piece of MDF is placed beneath the bubble wrap to create an edge condition and allows the panels to match their neighboring panels. The clear acetate can be painted on the inside, allowing for further customization.

The edges of each panel fit into grooves that have been milled from plywood. Between these grooves are large holes that allow access to the panel from behind. Once the panels have been placed onto the plywood, each cavity is filled with expanding insulation foam (Great Stuff). This creates a rigid system and allows the formed panels to adhere to the wood.

The pattern tested was derived from an abstracted photograph, however, the system or idea could be deployed in a manner that users/customers could submit images and graphics that could be translated into Pop Panels. By designing a system of production and allowing others to create the pattern, we can produce a flexible, mass customized product.

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