Application Overview

Take advantage of the multiple benefits 3D printed thermoform tooling offers.

Thermoforming is a collection of manufacturing methods that heat and form sheets of extruded plastic. Using FDM 3D printing technology, reduce the overall time and cost to produce thermoformed parts using FDM thermoplastic materials. This process offers the convenience of simple tool fabrication compared with traditionally fabricated tooling that was specific to an application.

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3D Printing Thermoform Molds

Lower Costs

3D printed thermoform tools are much more cost-effective than traditionally manufactured tools

Shorter Lead Times

Create tooling on-demand and reduce time-to-market by days, even weeks

Freedom of Design with 3D printing

Increase Complexity

Tackle next-generation projects without having to be limited by your designs

Benefits of 3D Printed Forming Tools

Reduce Manufacturing Time

Experience reduced lead times as FDM thermoforming allows you to build tools in hours or days instead of weeks or months. Quick design changes in CAD gives you fast customization options as you eliminate secondary machining operations needed to incorporate vacuum features. The inherent porosity of FDM thermoform tooling eliminates the need to machine vacuum holes in the tool. This process also features increased tool complexity as you can build as much or as little in your print as needed such as variable wall thickness and other features to reduce thermal mass and gradients.

3D Printed Thermoforming Mold 1

Operational Efficiency When You Need It

Virtually any thermoplastic available as extruded sheet stock may be used to thermoform prototypes or manufactured parts. Wall thicknesses can range from foils to thick-gauge stock with no molding stresses to combat. Traditionally, tooling requires large production operations and are timely and costly to run. With 3D printing, as the suitable alternative, manufacturers can take advantage of short-run manufacturing and prototyping with tool life ranging from 100 to 1,000 parts.

Related Resources

Application Guide – Thermoforming

This process guide documents the steps for vacuum forming since it is the most common thermoforming method. However, many of the details presented may also be applied to drape and pressure forming.

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