Complete Solution from Design to Parts
We can help you determine if vacuum forming is the best alternative to pressure forming, rotational molding, and injection molding. Proprietary tooling, custom machinery, and years of experience results in quality vacuum-formed parts that can save significant time and tooling cost.
Reasons to choose thermoforming over pressure forming, rotational molding, and injection molding:
We are able to produce prototypes in just days! We accomplish this by combining traditional methods with new materials, and by utilizing the latest CNC technology to generate complex shapes for even the most challenging parts. Other methods may require weeks or even months to complete!
Custom-made thermoforming machines are able to remove plastic from the oven and onto the tool in approximately two seconds. This means that can produce vacuum form parts that other companies would have to pressure form to produce including parts made of high temperature, thin-gauge material.
W offer tooling at very competitive prices in a fraction of the time required to create traditional thermoform tooling. Vacuum form tooling is far less expensive than tools for rotational molding and injection molding. We stand behind our process and offer a lifetime warranty on all proprietary tools, this saves you significant long term cost and maximizes your ROI.
Please keep in mind that designing for the process is critical to the success of your project, We are always happy to assist with whatever design adjustments are necessary to produce the highest quality parts.
The first step to vacuum forming is to establish a digital 3D model of your part. We can import your existing design or use the sketches, measurements, and descriptions to create a 3D model for you. Using digital modeling technology provides concise communication by allowing you to analyze the object from every angle. This allows us to verify that your design is correct to your needs and specifications before we proceed.
Once the 3D model is approved, we use SolidCAM to generate the tool paths that will cut your pattern on either a Haas GR510 Gantry or our Quintax QT40 Twin-Table 5-Axis CNC Machine. By importing solid 3D models directly and cutting the pattern by machine, human error is minimized and accuracy is increase.
We can help you with material selection. Each thermoformable plastic has unique properties, from obvious characteristics like strength and durability to more application-specific variations like light transmittance or resistance to UV degradation. We will help you select best material for both your budget and your application.
Once the 3D model is approved, the sample tool is cut and the material is chosen we proceed to create some part prototypes. For these, we create a sample tool out of materials like wood, tooling board, cast urethane, and/or polyester resin. Sample tooling is key because it allows us to make modifications at minimal cost. Although a design may look perfect on the 3D model, a final prototype may reveal unforeseen issues that need adjusted or corrected. At this point we adjust the prototype tooling as many times as it takes to ensure the prototype part meets your specific needs.
Once the prototype part is approved, we proceed to make a permanent tool. Instead of using cast or milled aluminum tools like most vacuum formers, we use a specialized, “in house” tooling system. These proprietary tools cost only a fraction of the price of aluminum tools. It takes weeks or months to produce custom aluminum tooling, but we can make parts in a little as a day or two. Even more important, production tools have a lower coefficient of thermal expansion than aluminum. This means that our molds do not grow or shrink during production runs, thereby maintaining consistency from part to part and lot to lot. And, they’re guaranteed for life.
With the permanent tool complete, we begin production. Our unique “in house” process and custom equipment allows us the ability to vacuum form many parts that other manufacturers would have to pressure form.
Once your parts are formed, we use a variety of cutting and shaping tools to remove any excess plastic around the edges of the part.
Finally, we clean, polish, and package your finished product. All of this activity takes place inside America’s boarders by citizens and legal residents. That means you can be proud of your part – ethically produced right here in the USA.
We work with all thermoformable plastics and engineering resins. Not every material is an appropriate choice for every project, so our we are able to help you select the best type of plastic for your application. In addition to price point, we base our recommendations on characteristics like density, dielectric strength, and thermal conductivity in order to produce the best quality part at the best price for your application.
Here are some material examples:
What’s the difference between vacuum forming, thermoforming, and other types of forming?
Thermoforming is a more generic term that includes both vacuum forming and pressure forming. Vacuum forming is the process of using atmospheric pressure to push a heated sheet of plastic down over a mold, thereby shaping it. Pressure forming is similar to vacuum forming, except compressed air is used in place of vacuum. This facilitates higher-definition parts. Our Vacuum forming machines get plastic out of the oven and onto the tool in approximately two seconds, thus allowing us to form detail typical of a pressure former.
How long can a tool that was produced overnight possibly last?
Our tools are very, very durable. So durable, in fact, that we guarantee them for life. That means that if someday your tool wears out in any way, we either fix it or replace it – at our cost.
Why don’t you use aluminum tools?
Our proprietary “in house” process tools save you money. The raw materials cost less, less raw material is used, they are faster to make (reduced labor), and all of this adds up to a less expensive tool. On the other hand, aluminum tools are expensive, have long lead times, are difficult to modify, and are costly to repair. Aluminum tools also typically require temperature controls to maintain dimensional stability. Overall, our tools cost less, have a lower coefficient of thermal expansion, and are guaranteed for the life of your part requirement.
What costs do you consider when creating a quote?
Quotes are broken into three parts: the 3D model, the tooling quote and the production quote. Your production quote typically includes machine set-up, the cost of the plastic, and labor. We provide standard packing materials like boxes, bags, and interleaf, which will be specified in the quote.
What are the differences between a prototype tool and a production tool?
Prototype tools have a limited useful life depending upon the design and material. We create them to verify the design and to produce sample part prototypes. It’s easier to modify a prototype tool, however; this makes a prototype tool unsuitable for production. To produce large numbers of identical parts, a production tool is necessary. Production tools copy the design of their corresponding prototype tools, but are far more durable and are produced to last a lifetime
What software do you use? What format should I use when I send you my design?
When we produce designs in-house, we use SolidWorks, so the best file format for us is a SolidWorks (.sldprt) file. In order of preference, other desirable file formats include Parasolid (.X_T) files, IGES (.igs) files, and STEP (.stp) files. We also accept ProEngineer files. If you do not have a computer-aided design (CAD) of your project, feel free to send us a pdf of whatever draft or sketch you have available. We can use that information along with your written description to make a 3D Solidworks model for you.
We also work from napkin sketches and existing parts if you do not have CAD files.
Let us quote your next custom part.