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Thermoforming With 3D Printed Molds Quick Start Guide

This guide will walk you through the steps of using 3D printed molds on your thermoforming machine.

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1. Mold Design

Design the mold for your part in the CAD software of your choice. Adhere to common design rules for additive manufacturing and thermoforming mold design. Design recommendations specific to polymer 3D printed molds can be found in the latest Formlabs Thermoforming white paper. Upload your design into PreForm, Formlabs’ free print preparation software. Prepare your print and send it to your Formlabs 3D printer.

2. Mold 3D Printing

Choose a 3D printing material and begin your print. For thermoforming one-off or lower quantities of parts: choose Draft Resin for fast printing of large parts, or Grey Resin for smaller parts and high surface finish. For higher volumes and more challenging forming conditions, Rigid 10K Resin is an ideal choice as it combines high strength, stiffness, and thermal resistance.

When possible, it is advised to print the mold flat, directly on the build platform without any supports, in order to reduce warpage.

After washing and post-curing, your 3D printed mold is ready to be integrated into your thermoforming process.

3. Mold Assembly

Prior to assembly, you may choose to finish the mold to meet critical dimensions with handsanding, desktop machining or CNC machining.

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