RedEye Australasia is Australia's largest FDM build centre, and part of Stratasys and RedEye On Demand worldwide - the world’s leading rapid prototype and parts builders. Facilitated by RapidPro in Melbourne, RedEye On Demand Australasia produces high quality thermoplastic parts and prototypes by employing the latest in Rapid Prototyping technology … Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM).

A true direct digital manufacturing solution, FDM easily converts 3D CAD files into fully operational working parts using a range of engineering thermoplastic materials, such as a 140+ degree C polyphenylsulfone and pc/iso, a material approved for medical applications (ISO 10993-1).

Managing complex part geometry with ease, FDM removes prior design limitations and tooling constraints producing high quality, fully repeatable parts in one piece. And because FDM prototypes are working parts, it streamlines product development, getting finished products to market faster. It is a tue Direct Digital Manufacturing solution with online instant quoting.

RedEye On Demand - The Factory of The Future

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Digital Manufacturing of Vacuum Forming Tools

Vacuum forming tools are a perfect application for Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology. FDM has the unique capability of creating sparse fills that allow for a vacuum to be pulled through the part. Because of this built in porosity, the benefit for vacuum forming is that it eliminates the need for vacuum holes; the small vents in the tool that are normally created as secondary operation.

The other added benefit of sparse fills is build speed. And since thermoform tools are simpler in shape, not requiring any support, we can often turn these around in a day; Build on the day of the order, and ready to ship the next day.

Read on to find out how one RedEye customer was able to make the statement; "High quality prototype molds for custom thermoform packaging made 60% faster."

Prototyping Vacuum Forming Tools Quickly

Thermoforming is a collection of manufacturing methods that heat and form sheets of extruded plastic. Thermoforming processes include: drape, vacuum and pressure forming. Today, packaging is the leading application for vacuum forming. Excitingly, consumers see it everywhere from the plastic coffee lid on their morning cup of java to the clear plastic box their sandwich at lunch was delivered in. And, although thermoforming is most often used when manufacturing packaging items, the cost and time saving advantages are realized in a broad spectrum of products in an equally diverse range of industries.

Founded in 1993, the LINDAR Corporation stands on principles of innovation and resourcefulness. This plastics thermoforming company proudly serves customers in food packaging, paint sundry, medical and custom OEM markets. They offer a broad range of services including: product/tool design, high capacity product manufacturing, secondary operations, fabricating and assembly.

Upon recommendation by one of their best customers, LINDAR turned to RedEye On Demand to create quick, cost effective thermoform packaging prototypes. Find out how the team at RedEye saved them time and cut costs while delivering a high quality tool.

The Challenge

Doing more in a shorter period of time is something many businesses are faced with today. In order to keep their competitive edge and satisfy customers, LINDAR needed to reduce turnaround time of their thermoform prototypes. Additionally, they were neither satisfied with the end product or the level of service other agencies had provided.

LINDAR was excited to try RedEye's fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology for creating new packaging thermoform prototypes because the LINDAR team had tried Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) prototypes in the past, but they were brittle. "Ninety percent of our packaging projects require the use of hinges. RedEye's FDM technology allows us to create functional thermoform molds where other technologies fail," says the LINDAR team.

Another advantage of using RedEye's technology is the tools created are inherently porous, which is beneficial when vacuum forming because it can eliminate the need for vacuum holes (small vents in the tool). This unique property, a result of modified build parameters, is essential to thermoform a prototype part with good detail because all air must be removed during the forming cycle. If air becomes trapped (in corners for example), between the sheet stock and the tool surface the part is not formed correctly. The quantity and placement of the vents directly affect the quality of the formed part. Vent placement also affects the cycle time of the forming process. At RedEye, this porosity is designed into the rapid prototype, eliminating the need to locate and drill vent holes completely. RedEye tools offer excellent feature detail and fast vacuum cycles while eliminating the labor and time related to drilling vents.

In addition to producing a quality thermoforming tool, service providers need to complete design revisions and form parts in just a few days. Ultimately, they needed a service provider that could react in timeframes that are continually compressed. The LINDAR team says, "Our customers want to have concepts designed and thermoformed for review as fast as possible."

So, when one of their best customers requested RedEye service they agreed to give it a try.

The Solution

The LINDAR Corporation was able to offer their customer an innovative solution that was appropriate for their company and its objectives. "By using dEye, we have reduced our thermoform prototyping time by 60%," stated the LINDAR team.

Applying the technology at RedEye to the creation of vacuum forming tools offers many advantages: eliminating the time and labor required of machined tools - CAM programming, set-up and operation, as well as eliminating vacuum hole drilling. RedEye expedites the vacuum forming process while decreasing costs and time constraints.

The technology offered at RedEye has streamlined LINDAR's rapid tooling process. Combining the advantages of the 3D CAD and FDM technology, vacuum forming can be completed quickly, efficiently and cost effectively.

"RedEye On Demand exceeded our expectations without exception. We are happy to have chosen RedEye as our digital manufacturer of thermoform prototypes," says the LINDAR team. As a result, LINDAR will continue to use RedEye for quality thermoform prototypes.

When you need prototype thermoform molds quickly, turn to RedEye On Demand.

Read more RedEye Case Studies