Discover proven methods for automated post-processing of thermoformed parts
If you're working with thermoformed parts made with the Mayku Multiplier, you'll need to do some manual or automated post-processing to achieve the desired finish. In this guide, we'll explore two different automated post-processing workflows, plus the strengths and limitations of each.
A CNC machine is an effective way to streamline post-processing, but some forward-planning is involved.
Accuracy in CNC work relies on precisely registering the physical object being worked on within the CAD software. You’ll need to align the form with a corresponding digital model or reference point to create a precise and consistent relationship between the two. There are several ways to do this:
A physical registration point
With a CNC machine, you have the ability to create holes that match the shape of your part. These holes can be connected to the part using pins or screws, aligning them with specific points on a template. This ensures a proper fit and alignment between the part and the template, allowing for accurate and consistent results in post-processing.
Milling a border around the mold
Adding a border around the mold ensures proper alignment and stability of the part during post-processing. This prevents any unintended shifting or misalignment.
Additionally, the border enables the use of reversible inlays or swapping them, allowing for milling on both sides of the part. This is beneficial when intricate details or features need to be worked on from both sides. By employing reversible inlays or strategic swapping, you can achieve precise and accurate results while maintaining the desired level of detail and quality.
Milling a jig that the form can fit in
Using jigs and manufacturing aids helps operators save time and ensures accurate placement of parts, leading to efficient production. A CNC machine is an excellent tool for creating these aids. Placing a form inside a jig guarantees consistent registration points for every operation.
In some cases, the part may require milling from both sides to reach intricate details or features.
Be conscious of fillets
Take into account the size of the drilling bit used, as it can impact the level of detail in the cut. Larger drilling bits, such as an 8mm diameter, will result in lower detail and larger rounded corners compared to a smaller 2mm diameter bit.
Forms can be securely held in place using the suction bed of the CNC machine. If this isn’t feasible, alternative methods such as clamping the templates or screwing them into the stillage board can be used.
Be sure to check your material drilling bit compatibility. It’s recommended to use single flute tooling specific to plastics for parts made by the Mayku Multiplier.
Laser cutting workflow
Laser cutters are highly valuable tools that complement the Mayku Multiplier, particularly when consistency and accuracy are crucial. They offer significant benefits, especially when handling larger production quantities, as they reduce the need for extensive manual labor.
To achieve successful laser cuts, it is essential to ensure consistent positioning of the part throughout the cutting process. This alignment is crucial for matching the part's position with the laser's path. Follow these steps to ensure success:
1. Design a cutting path
In your design software, create a precise cutting path that matches the desired shape of the part. This path should be accurately aligned with the digital model or reference point to achieve the desired outcome.
2. Form the part using the Mayku Multiplier
Thermoform the part using the Mayku Multiplier, ensuring its shape conforms to the intended design.
3. Roughly cut out the part
Use a bandsaw or similar tool to roughly cut out the part, providing a basic shape for further laser cutting. You could also use the cutting techniques detailed in our manual post-processing guide.
4. Create a flat laser cut jig
Design a flat jig that can be securely taped to the bed of the laser cutter. This jig serves as a guide to consistently position the part for cutting. For added stability, consider using a 3D printed jig that keeps the part firmly in position within the frame.
5. Align the part for cutting
Place the thermoformed part within the laser cut jig, ensuring perfect alignment with the cutting path. Take the necessary precautions to ensure the part remains in the same position throughout the cutting process.
6. Initiate the laser cutting process
Once confident in the alignment, start the laser cutter and allow it to precisely cut the part along the designated path and remove your parts from the sheet. This process can be repeated for larger batches.
Because laser cutting is a contactless technology, there’s less chance the part will move when cutting compared to the CNC workflow.
Acrylic is a clear winner
PMMA (acrylic) is an excellent plastic for laser cutting. Laser cut acrylic has crystal-clear smooth cut edges without the need for further post processing.
Be aware of ABS
Laser cutting ABS is not recommended. This is because it releases toxic fumes when cutting. It can also ignite, and the quality of cut edges tends to be poor as the material melts, producing uneven edges.
Check your part height
Make sure to find a laser cutter with a bed that can drop down low enough to allow for the height of the part.
Streamline your thermoforming operation with automated post-processing techniques
By automating the post-processing of parts produced on the Mayku Multiplier, you can optimize your thermoforming operation. Whether you’re producing one-off parts or batches of thermoformed parts, implementing registration techniques, milling borders, and jigs will give you consistent quality and accuracy and save you time in the long run.
Discover Mayku’s range of proven thermoforming materials to find the best fit for your workflow. Discover Mayku Multiplier materials.
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