Thermoforming is mainly used in the packaging industry. Preparing tools for vacuum forming can be costly and time consuming. The tools are usually made of aluminum for large production operations and wooden tools 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&rsquot 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 technology are ideal for prototyping and shortrun manufacturing. Depending on the tool material and part material, tool life can range from 100 to 1,000 parts.3d printing can eliminate much of the time and labor associated with machining vacuumforming tools.
Data preparation is completed in minutes, so tool construction can begin immediately after tool design. Automated, unattended operations eliminate the time needed for fixturing, setup and operation of cnc machines. Fdm and polyjet offer the option to design vent holes into the mold, eliminating the labor and potential unevenness of manual drilling. Fdm further allows building the mold as a porous structure for finely distributed vacuum draw.