Leveraging 3D Printing to Drive Thermoforming Innovation

Solutionology Podcast: Episode #16 | 37 min


On this episode of the Solutionology Podcast, Carl and Brian walk you through examples of how they’ve used industrial 3D printing (additive manufacturing) to drive innovation in projects using low pressure molding methods such as thermoforming.

You’ll see images and video of examples where traditional molds were modified with 3D printed components in order to enhance features and test design changes during real time production. When additive is used in this way and in this part of the process, it can help product development teams fuel innovation and make better, more strategic decisions.


  • 02:14 Intro to our topic
  • 03:33 Additive isn’t always the best solution
  • 04:05 Early thermoforming mold
  • 05:26 Glass bead reinforced nylon 12
  • 06:39 producing in low volume, high numbers and slow speed
  • 07:13 Using traditional manufacturing due to cost and material properties
  • 08:11 Testing product changes with final material before cutting new molds
  • 09:11 Inserts fastened into aluminum molds
  • 10:48 Being scrappy with different approaches for testing
  • 11:45 Making product changes in real time with modified molds
  • 12:19 Scheduling production down time
  • 13:05 Creating a high level of confidence with process parameters
  • 15:30 Balancing the desired outcome with the economics
  • 16:14 Our approach – understanding the whole picture
  • 16:48 Large thermoformed part example
  • 17:14 Validating thermoforming can achieve features, geometries and performance
  • 19:32 Demonstrating the use of additively produced components
  • 20:04 Mold inserts with vacuum ports
  • 20:56 Using glass bead nylon was critical for tolerances
  • 21:46 Thermoforming in process demonstration
  • 23:21 Improving the product with existing tooling
  • 24:24 Inserts attached to the mold to change geometries in real time
  • 26:39 Parts build confidence in team members
  • 27:03 Allowing more time for assessment and analytics
  • 28:47 Choosing a different direction
  • 29:22 Cross section of how geometry was formed
  • 30:24 Marrying technologies to drive a decision
  • 32:13 HP Multi Jet Fusion is the primary resource
  • 35:40 Change is part of our daily lives