3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) today announced that its polymer pellet-extrusion additive manufacturing (AM) system is being used by Duo Form, a leader in thermoforming for wide-ranging industries, to advance its production processes. 

In the competitive thermoformed plastics market, thermoformers like Duo Form need to continually innovate their manufacturing process, shorten lead times, and reduce costs to better serve their customers and win new business. At the same time, maintaining mold quality and durability is key.

They also need to innovate quickly with design iteration and produce full-scale prototypes to avoid delays in the approval and production process.

By integrating AM into its manufacturing process, Duo Form became more agile thanks to 3D printing production molds, tools, and representative samples for thermoforming and vacuum forming.

The key advancements brought with 3D Systems’ EXT Titan Pellet 3D printer are:

  • Producing molds with AM
  • Large-format pellet-extrusion AM uses readily available thermoplastic pellets common to other extrusion manufacturing like injection molding, and which cost up to 10X less than traditional FDM filaments. 3D Systems’ pellet extrusion systems also enable high-throughput printing, with print speeds up to 10X faster than filament systems.
  • Innovation and design iteration with AM
  • Titan 3D printer helps to quickly print sample parts of final products to present to customers ahead of making the tool. Directly printing parts for design approval before proceeding to the mold-making process has opened the door for faster design iteration and overall shorter lead times.
  • Significant costs savings and reduction in lead times
  • By leveraging their Titan 3D printer, Duo Form is drastically decreasing costs, and shortening lead times.

David Rheinheimer, Duo Form Product Development Manager, said: “We have gained a lot of business with our Titan 3D printer. The turnaround time for parts, molds, and formed parts has put us leaps and bounds above our competition.” 

Rheinheimer says he can also see another value AM brings to manufacturers when it comes to storing molds, especially for products that are out of production but may need to be formed in the future for spare parts. With AM, a digital inventory can eliminate the need to store legacy molds, enabling companies to print a new mold when the need arises.