What 3D printers do you recommend?
The best 3D printers for thermoforming templates depend on your budget, desired level of precision, and other factors. The resource below lists 3D printers that have been tested by the Mayku team which produce good results when making thermoforming templates.
Which 3D printing technology do you recommend?
We always recommend using templates that have a high temperature resistance to withstand the heat from the Mayku Multiplier’s pressure forming process.
The 3D printing technologies that are frequently used for thermoforming include FDM, SLA, and SLS. There are strengths and limitations to each, and these will need to be taken into account based on your template design intentions.
FDM/FFF 3D printing
Fused deposition modelling/Fused filament fabrication is a method of 3D printing that uses a continuous filament of thermoplastic material to produce 3D objects. The process involves melting and extruding the material layer by layer, building the object from the bottom up. It’s an affordable, clean, and fast method which can create a usable thermoforming template in a matter of hours.
PLA is a popular FDM 3D printing material. For the purposes of thermoforming, it will require high infill density to withstand the pressure of the Mayku Multiplier. Better results might be found using a high temperature plastic such as ABS or PETG.
SLA (resin) 3D printing
Stereolithography 3D printing, sometimes referred to as resin 3D printing, is an additive manufacturing technology in which a light source – typically a laser or projection – cures liquid resin into hardened plastic. SLA parts feature high resolution and outstanding surface finishes, especially when compared to other 3D printing technologies. SLA 3D printing is also compatible with a wide variety of materials, meaning an equally broad range of applications can be created with it.
TIP: Check if your resin 3D printer can support high temperature resins before purchase.
Standard resins will work as a one-off mold, but due to heat stress will quickly fail and crumble around 70°C on repeated uses. We recommend using high temperature resin that can withstand at least 120°C of the Mayku Multiplier’s heating process, such as Formlabs High Temp Resin, which we have tested with good results.
SLS 3D printing
Selective laser sintering is a 3D printing technology that uses a high-powered laser to fuse small particles of plastic powder together. Unlike other 3D printing technologies, SLS does not require any support structures, as the powder acts as its own support.
Nylon is a commonly used material for SLS 3D printing. This material offers excellent mechanical properties and temperature resistance, which are properties that are ideal for thermoforming templates.
Thermoforming templates often need airflow holes integrated into the design, as air pockets can cause the plastic sheet to bubble and deform during the thermoforming process. One of the main advantages of SLS 3D printing for thermoforming is that the resulting parts are porous. This means that there’s no need to add air holes to the template (or that the required amount may be significantly lower compared to other fabrication methods).
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