Once the design is set, it’s time to make prototypes. For these, our toolmakers create a temporary “soft” tool out of materials like wood, tooling board, cast urethane, and/or polyester resin. Soft tooling is key to the FastForming process because it allows us to make modifications at minimal cost. After all, even though a design may seem perfect on the screen, your opinion may change with a copy in hand. That’s why we’re happy to adjust your soft tooling as many times as it takes to ensure the prototype you receive meets your specific standards.
With an approved prototype, it’s time to upgrade the soft tool to a permanent tool. Instead of using cast or milled aluminum tools like most vacuum formers, our companies use a proprietary composite tooling system developed by the Sandel Products owner Del Reedy. These proprietary tools cost only a fraction of the price of aluminum tools. It takes weeks or months to produce custom aluminum tooling, but a Reedy tool can be ready to make parts in a little as a day or two. Even more important, production tools have a lower coefficient of thermal expansion than aluminum. This means that our molds do not grow or shrink during production runs, thereby maintaining consistency from part to part and lot to lot. Plus, they’re guaranteed for life.
What do you do? Approve the prototype.