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4Instructables38,490Views4CommentsJoined January 15th, 2008
Co-owner of Maker Works, a 14,000 sq ft membership-based prototyping facility. I enjoy helping people make things.

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  • Laser-Cut Forms for Thermoforming (Vacuum Forming)

    The general idea--cutting layers quickly and easily on a 2D machine like a laser and stacking--could apply. But if your model doesn't have essentially flat, sharp features, then other methods would be preferable, since the layering technique here has joints and discontinuities between every layer and does not handle curved sides. Any changes in height are discrete steps.Tooling board, wood, or similar soft material milled out, covered with Bondo, painted, and coated with release agent might get you better results. Much depends on the actual shape you need--organic shapes usually take longer to mill to a given smoothness than shapes that have flat heights. You could also use the stacked laser-cut model as the basis for something to be smoothed with Bondo--a tool like Autodesk's Slice...

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    The general idea--cutting layers quickly and easily on a 2D machine like a laser and stacking--could apply. But if your model doesn't have essentially flat, sharp features, then other methods would be preferable, since the layering technique here has joints and discontinuities between every layer and does not handle curved sides. Any changes in height are discrete steps.Tooling board, wood, or similar soft material milled out, covered with Bondo, painted, and coated with release agent might get you better results. Much depends on the actual shape you need--organic shapes usually take longer to mill to a given smoothness than shapes that have flat heights. You could also use the stacked laser-cut model as the basis for something to be smoothed with Bondo--a tool like Autodesk's Slicer for Fusion 360 might be useful there.For either laser or 3D machining, check out your local makerspace. If it looks like 3D machining might be the answer, check out https://100kgarages.com/. Good luck with your project!

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  • Laser-Cut Forms for Thermoforming (Vacuum Forming)

    Very nice! 3D printing is a great way to make molds for thermoforming. For other folks reading this, I'd make the following comment--the ridges we get with 3D printing (especially when the ridges are parallel to the thermoforming platform) could make it extra difficult to extract the mold from the finished part. So add additional draft (sounds like 10 degrees worked well?), and/or use whatever technique you like to smooth out the ridges so the sides don't grip as much. A mold release agent probably wouldn't hurt either.

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  • Laser-Cut Forms for Thermoforming (Vacuum Forming)

    This was never a 3D model--just the 2D layers I posted above. You can read the PDFs into a vector graphic program like Inkscape, generate DXFs, and then use something like Fusion 360 to make a 3D model by extruding the DXFs. Good luck with your project!

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