Explore our latest dental offering!

Manual post-processing of thermoformed parts

Discover the best ways to post-process thermoformed parts and their main advantages

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 different manual post-processing workflows and tools that you can use to cut and finish your parts.

Manual post-processing tools

Here’s a list of different manual tools you can use to cut and finish your thermoformed parts.

Scissors are a versatile tool for freehand cutting thin materials, such as EVA 1.5mm or HIPS 1mm. They are particularly useful for cutting thin materials without the need for guides or templates. With their ease of use and accessibility, scissors are a great addition to your post-processing toolkit.

EVA 1.5mm post-processing with scissors
EVA 1.5mm post-processing with scissors

Kevlar scissors are designed to cut through tougher and thicker materials that could damage regular scissors. They are particularly useful for cutting thicker, soft Mayku materials such as UHMW. To cut parts made with UHMW, use a band saw first, followed by a second pass with kevlar scissors. Finally, neaten the edges with a file or sandpaper.

Cutting 3mm UHMW using kevlar scissors
Cutting 3mm UHMW using kevlar scissors

When dealing with tough materials like PETG or PMMA, ultrasonic cutters can make the task a lot smoother. To ensure optimum results, it is recommended to use a powerful ultrasonic cutter with a longer blade. Mastering the technique of using such a cutter might require some practice as it’s important to be mindful of the blade's access points and cut angle to avoid blade blunting or melting.

It is also crucial to stay safe by wearing protective equipment and operating in a well-ventilated area since plastic fumes are emitted during the process.

Cutting ABS 4mm with an ultrasonic cutter

If you need to cut thin materials like EVA 1.5mm or HIPS 1mm, scalpels can be a useful tool. They are particularly effective for achieving precise cuts and finishing touches.

Cutting 1mm HIPS with a scalpel

Handheld rotary power tools, such as the Dremel, come with a wide range of accessories for various tasks, including cutting and finishing parts. The cutting discs can be used to cut thin materials, and the sandpaper accessory can remove excess material from thicker parts.

To illustrate, the ABS car component was first post-processed with a band saw to remove excess material, and then finished and sanded with a Dremel to smooth the edges.

The band saw is an essential tool for cutting rigid materials. It is a fast and reliable way to remove excess material and can be combined with more precise tools like the Dremel or ultrasonic cutter for greater precision.

If your working area doesn’t have room for a band saw, an electric jigsaw can be a great alternative, offering similar results and material compatibility.

For example, when cutting an ABS part, you would first use the band saw to do two passes: one to remove excess material and a second to get closer to the outline. Then, the edges would be sanded with a Dremel for a more consistent finish.

Removing excess material from a formed part with a band saw

When post-processing thin parts (1-1.5mm), it can be helpful to design and create a jig to guide you during the cutting process. This jig can be made using 3D printing or other technologies.

In the example below, you can see how a formed part (white) was cut with high precision thanks to the use of a 3D printed jig (black).

Manual post-processing examples

Here are some post-processing workflows we have tested using our materials.

Our HIPS sheets come in 1mm thickness, making them easy to post-process. After forming a blister packaging prototype, we removed the excess material with Kevlar scissors. Then, we used a 3D printed jig along with a cutter to trim the edges and achieve a consistent finish.

A band saw could have been used as an alternative, but we preferred Kevlar scissors because they didn't generate dust that would have required cleaning later.

Thanks to the flexible nature of EVA, de-molding small parts is extremely easy, and it also allows for easy part cutting using scissors, cutters, or scalpels.

If you're making a two-part mold using EVA, consider placing a piece of paper as the base below the template. This will create a permeable flat layer and prevent the EVA from capturing the dimple pattern produced from the Mayku forming bed.

Two-part mold made with EVA 1.5mm on the Mayku Multiplier

PMMA offers excellent mechanical and optical properties. For better precision, we recommend cutting it with a band saw first and then with an ultrasonic cutter. Use a Dremel with a sanding accessory for finishing, and sand by hand using high grit sandpaper for best results.

If you want the part to be fully transparent, you'll need to sand and polish the template before forming. To eliminate fine scratches, plastic polish can be used on the final part.

Carlight part made with PMMA on the Mayku Multiplier

UHMW is a great non-friction material, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be post-processed. We recommend using Kevlar scissors, a band saw, or a scalpel to cut this material. Note that an ultrasonic cutter does not work well on this material.

To finish the edges, you can either sand them or use a scalpel and jig for a clean cut.

Protective gear prototype made with the Mayku Multiplier using UHMW

Our 4mm ABS can be post-processed using many of the tools mentioned in this guide. Excess material is best removed using a band saw or an ultrasonic cutter, although automated processes such as CNCing are also possible.

For finishing, we recommend sanding with either a Dremel or by hand, and using a scalpel for deburring.

Automotive component made with the Mayku Multiplier using ABS

Post-processing cheatsheet

In the table below you can see the compatibility between some of our materials and the different post-processing tools we’ve presented in this guide.

Tool/Material compatibility
PETG 1mm
HIPS 1mm
EVA 1.5mm
ABS 4mm
PMMA 3mm
UHMW 3mm
Band saw
Ultrasonic cutter
Only finishing
Only finishing
Only finishing
Only finishing
Only finishing
Only finishing
Kevlar scissors

Finding the best solution for you

This guide has presented manual post-processing tools and how to integrate them into your workflow. However, it's important to note that each team has a unique workflow, and each design may present unique challenges. We highly recommend testing different post-processing methods to find the one that suits you best.

Based on our experience, a band saw (or similar tool) is essential when working with thicker and more rigid materials. Other tools, such as ultrasonic cutters or the Dremel, are key to achieving high-quality part finishing.

Continue reading

View all

Book a call

Let's chat about possible applications or any other ideas or questions you might have. Book a call with a member of our team below.

Find a time

Submit a question

Want to know more? Send us a question and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Ask now

Find a reseller

Our certified resellers have invaluable application and workflow knowledge. Connect with a reseller near you.

Get in touch