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3D Printed Vacuum Form Molds

Check out the latest FATHOM created white paper on 3D printing — you can find other PDF’s for download such as infographics, case studies, and more in the FATHOM library.

Written by Cole Hartman, Mechanical Engineer, and Veronica De La Rosa, Industrial Designer
Vacuum forming is a versatile and easy to learn process. With affordable 3D printed tooling and a wide variety of applications, it could be the perfect fit for your next prototyping project. Vacuum forming with 3D printed molds is a great way to quickly create 3D parts from plastic sheet material. This document outlines how to take advantage of the unique benefits of Stratasys 3D printers for vacuum forming applications.

3D Printed Vacuum Form Mold FATHOMFDM (fused deposition modeling) is the most common technology used for creating 3D printed molds for vacuum forming and offers many unique benefits. FDM allows you to print in various sparse fill densities, giving the molds an inherent porosity that results in a uniform vacuum to be drawn throughout the tool. This can greatly simplify the fabrication of the tool. In addition, FDM machines are capable of printing molds in a variety of durable, heat resistant plastics that prolong the life of the mold.PolyJet (UV-Cured Photopolymer) is another common technology used for 3D printing molds. PolyJet-based machines build parts with fine layer resolution, and as a result, produce parts with very smooth surfaces. PolyJet vacuum form molds require little to no post processing and are great for making molds with organic and curvy surfaces. PolyJet molds don’t share the porosity of sparse fill FDM molds, but air vents can easily be designed into critical areas of the mold prior to printing, eliminating the labor and potential inconsistency of manual drilling.

Both technologies simplify the tool fabrication, allowing engineers and designers to test multiple tooling strategies concurrently, and shortening the time to produce the first articles of a design. Other additive manufacturing technologies can be considered… (continued)

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