Manufacturing - Tooling Solutions

Create fast and cost effective 3D printing or additive manufacturing tools for the process of vacuum forming products. 






3D Printing - Manufacturing-Tooling Solution - Thermoforming 

Thermoforming is the collection of manufacturing methods that heat and form sheets of extruded plastic. It is a relatively simple process that starts with heating a plastic sheet to a pliable state. Once softened, the sheet is forced against a mold with the desired shape using different methods: In vacuum forming, a vacuum is drawn through tiny holes in the mold. In pressure forming, air pressure is applied to the surface.

Thermoforming is mainly used in the packaging industry. However, it is not limited to small products; hot tubs and refrigerator door panels are two examples of relatively large thermoformed parts.

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 — thicknesses ranging from 0.0005 to 0.5 in. (0.0127 to 12.7 mm) — with no molding stresses to combat. Vacuum forming part and tooling costs tend to remain reasonable for large parts.

How it works 

Preparing tools for vacuum forming can be costly and time consuming. The tools are usually made of aluminum for large production operations. Wooden tools are sometimes used for small production series. Regardless of material, tooling requires the time and labor associated with setting up and operating a milling machine. If machining is unavailable onsite, tooling may be outsourced, slowing time to market and potentially increasing design expenses. 

Because thermoforming doesn’t require extreme heat or pressure, 3D printing (also called additive manufacturing) is a viable alternative. Although tool life will not equal that of aluminum, the materials available with Polyjet or FDM technologies are ideal for prototyping and short-run manufacturing. Depending on the tool material and part material, tool life can range from 100 to 1,000 parts.


The Proto3000 Advantage

The process of thermoforming is easily replaced by our cutting edge 3D printing polyjet technology. Designing your prototype as a CAD file has never been easier. Our Engineering team will create CAD files of your prototype fast and efficiently. Once the .STL files are accepted by your manufacturing business, all we have to do is hit print and our manufacturing technicians will 3D print your prototypes based on the CAD files. Our manufacturing facility is capable of 3D printing your prototypes in a matter of hours and deliver the end-product to your location. 
Contact the Proto3000 Services Team for further information on how we can help you with this solution. 
If you want to speak to a LIVE PERSON - CALL 1-888-88-PROTO (77686).

The Technology Used for Manufacturing - Tooling Solutions 

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Technology 

Using FDM technology allows affordability and durability by printing concept models with production-grade thermoplastics. 
FDM 3D Printers are office friendly and they produce small models in hours and large models in days. The FDM printed models can be drilled, sanded and painted according to your preference to create a perfect finishing of your prototype. 


PolyJet 3D Printing Technology

As a 3D printing process, this technology produces amazingly realistic models. The printing technology builds accurate models by incorporating multiple materials into one automated part to create prototypes that look and feel like finished products. With fine details, smooth surfaces, rigid housings, soft-touch buttons, lettering, rubberlike seals and even clear components, your models can look the part at a trade show, a presentation or even during a sales pitch. 



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