What’s the difference between vacuum forming, thermoforming, and other types of forming?

Thermoforming is a more generic term that includes both vacuum forming and pressure forming. Vacuum forming is the process of using atmospheric pressure to push a heated sheet of plastic down over a mold, thereby shaping it. Pressure forming is similar to vacuum forming, except compressed air is used in place of vacuum. This facilitates higher-definition parts. Our Vacuum forming machines get plastic out of the oven and onto the tool in approximately two seconds, thus allowing us to form detail typical of a pressure former.


How long can a tool that was produced overnight possibly last?

Our tools are very, very durable. So durable, in fact, that we guarantee them for life. That means that if someday your tool wears out in any way, we either fix it or replace it – at our cost.


Why don’t you use aluminum tools?

Epoxy tools save you money. The raw materials cost less, less raw material is used, they are faster to make (reduced labor), and all of these add up to a less expensive tool. On the other hand, aluminum tools are expensive, have long lead times, are difficult to modify, and are costly to repair. Aluminum tools also typically require temperature controls to maintain dimensional stability. Overall, our Epoxy tools cost less, have a lower coefficient of thermal expansion, and are guaranteed for the life of your project!


What costs do you consider when creating a quote?

Quotes are broken into two parts: the tooling quote and the production quote. Your production quote typically includes machine set-up, the cost of the plastic, and labor. We provide standard packing materials like boxes, bags, and interleaf, which will be specified in the quote. Customer is responsible for shipping.


What are the differences between a soft tool and a production tool?

Soft tools have a limited useful life depending upon the design and material. FastForming’s toolmakers create them to verify the design and to produce prototypes. It’s easier to modify a soft tool or pattern, but this same characteristic makes a soft tool unsuitable for any substantial production run. To produce large numbers of identical parts, a production tool is necessary. Production tools copy the design of their corresponding soft tools, but are far more durable. We do not guarantee soft tools; only production tools are guaranteed.


What software do you use? What format should I use when I send you my design?

When we produce designs in-house, we use SolidWorks, so the best file format for us is a SolidWorks (.sldprt) file. In order of preference, other desirable file formats include Parasolid (.X_T) files, IGES (.igs) files, and STEP (.stp) files. We also accept ProEngineer files. If you do not have a computer-aided design (CAD) of your project, feel free to send us a pdf of whatever draft or sketch you have available. We can use that information along with your written description to make a 3D Solidworks model for you.

We also work from napkin sketches and existing parts if you do not have CAD files.


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