Thermoforming | CNC Machining Updates and News

06 Jun 2017

ShapeMaster: Innovation at It’s Finest!

When something is broken the first reaction is to purchase a replacement part. In most
cases that is the best way, but I work at ShapeMaster and we have an understanding here
to look at the big picture and to consider all available options. So when I was presented
with a broken button (see below), I was asked to go out and find a replacement.
This button is the Emergency Stop button off our main air compressor. It just about powers
everything in our operation, and we need to keep this machine in tip top condition at all
times. When new, it was a pretty expensive machine and was made in Belgium, so you can
guess replacement parts are going to be expensive as well.
I got ahold of our compressor service rep and she said the price of a new replacement
button would be $51.00 plus $17.00 shipping. So now we have $68.00 for a red, plastic
button….from Belgium. The bright side was they had one in stock which would have save a
couple of weeks.
Obviously, we thought this was ludicrous for a red, plastic button….from Belgium. I was
instructed to find another source. I tried the usual suspects, eBay, Amazon, Craigslist,
there just were no other options out there. Parts are not readily available.
I sat at my desk looking at this broken, red, plastic button….from Belgium. This is where I
realized I work at ShapeMaster, and we have been working in plastic for close to 30 years.

What options do I have here? Machining a new button out of red material was floated, but
by the time you program it, you purchase the material, and then schedule someone to run
the machine, you might as well buy the new button due to the expense.
I took another look at the button. It looked like it was made of ABS, and then it came to
mind that one of our 3d printers prints in ABS. So I checked out a website called
Thingiverse. This is a great website if you own a 3d printer. It is FULL of interesting, useful,
and not so useful “things” to print.

I found an “E-Stop” button on the site, but it was too large for our compressor. I
downloaded the button files anyway and loaded it into the printer software. I took
measurements from the busted button, applied them to the button in the software,
loaded red ABS, and hit print.
1-1/2 hours later, a new, red, plastic button…made in the USA, at a cost around $1.00.

As mentioned in the beginning, we at ShapeMaster look at the big picture and consider all
options available to us before taking action on any project, even our own projects.
The Bottom Line is this: At ShapeMaster we are creative people and that is what you want
for your team.

Hire us!
Let us assist you with your project. Check out our services!
Including but not limited to:

Sheet Metal Design, Machining, Laser, Punching, Fabrication, Welding,
Mill, Lathe, Bend, and this is what we can do to metal!

CAD, 3D Printing, Prototyping, Machine Guarding, Project Management,
Automation Services, Your Source For 80/20!

Let’s not forget our expertise in plastic! Shaping and taming plastic for
close to 30 years through thermal forming, heat bending, welding, cutting, and yes, injection molding!

Over 100 years of combined expertise in the services we offer!

If you can think it, we can make it! After all, we are ShapeMaster!

09 Nov 2016


We are very excited to announce our new Injection Molding services. We recently purchased an injection molding machine to expand our molding capabilities and to serve your needs more efficiently.


Our Capabilities With The New Injection Molding Press In Ogden, Illinois


The Nissei is up and running with capabilities for nice sized jobs as follows:

-10.5 ounce shot size
-132 tons of clamping force
-Core Pull capable
-All colors
-Resins: ABS, HIPS, HDPE, PE and Polycarbonate


Finish work, assembly, packaging and warehousing available in-house with just in time shipment.


We would be delighted to work with you on your injection molded parts. If we can schedule your project in the next 30 days, you will receive 10 hours of free design assistance.

23 Oct 2016


In our last newsletter, we discussed the possibilities of what could be formed using the vacuum-forming method. In this letter, we are looking at what simply cannot be done with this process.

Vacuum Thermoforming of plastic sheet can accomplish a great many things. Shapes you make through this process can be varied. There are various colors, thicknesses, durabilities (U.V. resistance, toughness, electrical properties, flame-spread resistance, extreme heat, even self extinguishing properties) to be considered.

This process may not work for every project however. You may find that due to the volume of parts you require that the cost per unit will be substantially higher. In that case, Injection Molding may be preferred.

There is a process within the Vacuum Thermoforming Process that allows for "near" injection molded features with a much less cost for tooling. This process is known as Pressure Forming.
Through the process of "pressure forming" a plastic sheet using the vacuum thermoforming process you can find that "near" injection molded shape and features may be obtained.

With pressure forming, expect to pay more for your tooling than with standard vacuum thermoforming. The parts will be more expensive than with both vacuum forming and injection molding making the process not for every application. However, it does allow for a less costly tool set up for initial out of pocket expenses vs. injection molding and while helping to provide some very "injection molding" like properties.

Examples of where pressure forming may be helpful are with industrial computer or electronic enclosures, medical equipment cases, parts requiring threaded metal inserts or undercuts that wrap around the edge and form interlocking case halves.

I would not consider vacuum forming for applications where a bottle or a vessel shape are required. Any fully closed shape may require blow molding or rotational molding to achieve the necessary features.

Vacuum forming is great for very large parts as well. However every process has its limitations.

Please note that we are now offering injection molding in house in Ogden.

Take a look at our capabilities and work with ShapeMaster on your next product launch.

For more information, visit our website or call us today at 800-779-6925 for more information.


The ShapeMaster Crew

Our Capabilities With The New Injection Molding Press In Ogden, Illinois

The Nissei is up and running with capabilities for nice sized jobs as follows:

-10.5 ounce shot size
-132 tons of clamping force
-Core Pull capable
-All colors
-Resins: ABS, HIPS, HDPE, PE and Polycarbonate

Finish work, assembly, packaging and warehousing available in-house with just in time shipment.
20 Jul 2016

What can you accomplish with the vacuum forming process of a plastic sheet?

Vacuum forming or vacuum Thermoforming is a process that subjects a sheet of plastic to heat from one or both sides to bring it to a state that will allow it to be formed into a three-dimensional shape.


While this process is rather simple, it has evolved over the last 60 or so years to become rather sophisticated in its simplicity.


With the use of wood, plastic or aluminum molds (tools as we refer to them) the plastic sheet that is rigid and flat can become a shape rather quickly. The tooling is also fairly simple by design which helps to control set up costs for the launch of a new part or product line.


Parts can be formed as small as your finger nail or larger than a boat, items are being made daily that serve markets in every area from medical to transportation to consumer goods.

Here you can see a mold with the finished vacuum formed part.

Here you can see a part we formed in the process of being vacuum formed


Take a look at vacuum thermoforming and work with ShapeMaster on your next product launch. We have a minimum of ONE part. You’ve gotta make at least one. ; )


For more information, visit our website or call us today at 800-779-6925 for more information.



The ShapeMaster Crew

06 Jul 2016


Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is an amazing product. You may know it better as Teflon and it’s not limited to frying pans for frying up your bacon. In fact, one of our customers asked us to make a a device that would allow them to insert a silicone wafer into a chemical solution to be coated. Because Teflon (PTFE) is resistant to the acids they were using, we recommended that this device be made with this resilient material.

Our silicone wafer dipper is made of this amazing Teflon, it is resistant to the following:
-concentrated acids -bases -solvents
-alcohols -fuel oils -detergents
-hydrocarbons-just about any chemical!

Our wafer dipper can even withstand temperatures up to 260°C (500°F).
Our stock sizes of dippers are, 2″ diameter, 3″ diameter, and 4″ diameter.

Coming soon to a laboratory near you, The Double Decker Wafer Dipper!

The Wafer Dipper is one example of the excellent work we do here at ShapeMaster, Inc.

Need A Different Size, No Problem

Don’t worry if you do not see the size you require. ShapeMaster can custom craft a wafer dipper quoted to your specifications. It is our pleasure to meet your requirements.
Teflon is a very practical material and can be used for many scientific projects and can fit a variety of extreme chemical and mechanical needs.
Teflon also used to make gears in motors and machines, and due to its low friction coefficient makes them more efficient and cost less power to operate.
ShapeMaster has highly skilled design engineers ready to take on any challenge and partnering with you to realize your creative ideas and dreams.

Crafting Endless Possibilities

-Reuleaux Triangles

The possibilities are endless when it comes to ShapeMaster crafting your Teflon needs!

Don’t let your ideas slip away!

Please check out the wafer dippers on our website and our portfolio of products.

Call us today and ask us how ShapeMaster can solve your Teflon needs at:
1(800)-779-6925 for more information.

05 Jul 2016


In the 1960’s when I was but a wee lad Popular Mechanics along with other magazines held our attention and we didn’t have pads and cells and bars to worry about. Some of us perhaps needed to be in padded cells with bars but we didn’t have socializing on a second by second basis to deal with.
We had time to think and to dream.

If there is a need...Make It!

Ground Control To Major Tom.

Today it seems people waste their minds and lives on things that are worthless. It’s sad really.

I remember the paperback magazines and the articles that caused us to think about making things. What things? It didn’t matter, any-thing.

I was thinking recently that my mind was one of my greatest tools back then. I first dreamed up the design and then I would attempt to make it. As my tools became more and more sophisticated I’ve found I can make anything nearly a man can make in this life.

It was at this moment I realized that I was Maker when Maker wasn’t cool….Yet

Where did this term “Maker” come from?

We used to hear this in old western movies “you’ll meet your Maker”

Isn’t this overdoing it?

But lately I think it’s part of our “social” lingo. It is a way to say I make things for myself and ain’t I cool. Honey, folks were making things long before you got the idea or had a clue. (Ohhh Snap!)

Remember, it was in the 1960’s that WE put a man on the moon.

Remember, we fought world wars in two theaters and built our infrastructure in America the likes of which we’ve not seen since and did it back during a Great Depression.

To be a “Creative” or a “Maker” may mean something slightly different today than it did back then. As I recall folks had a trade and they were put through a strenuous apprenticeship and many times those training periods were years much longer and more intense than the average four year degree from a major university in this country.

One of my good friends who is a top drawer tool and die maker machinist told me his father was a machinist in the day when they wore a tie and thought highly of their trade. Now, due to computers and these new-fangled computer aided design software programs (CAD for you letter conscience folks) everyone thinks of themselves as a potential “machinist” because they can type.

I do think that gone are the days of true blue professionals who were craftsmen and artists in their trades. It’s sad really. Many of these fine people are dead or at least retired. But, we’ve lost them from our midst and didn’t learn from them the fine arts before they left us.

I do embrace the new trends and have purchased a number of 3D printers. Why? Because I can’t stand to see a seven year old knowing more about plastic part creation than we do. But, it do thrill to see and meet these new “makers” and “creatives” who are thinking outside any box we could have ever put around them.

I had 10 Lego bricks when I was a kid. I could build a castle with those 10 bricks.

Let’s rejoice that creativity is NOT DEAD! Thank God! Now, let’s think about what a Maker should be and how to be creative using the new resources we have.

ShapeMaster is a great resource. Our company has worked hard to reinvest in technology, software, computers, servers, communications, methods and yes even in trends. Who doesn’t like to be trendy at least a bit anyway? Our new machinery is keeping us ahead of the rest in many cases and allows us to offer very affordable means to design, reverse engineer, invent, and create some of the most unusual and productive items on the planet.

Really? Well, at least we think so.

But we won’t know how creative you can be unless you hire us to work for you.

Dr.Comfort, this device will revolutionize the colonoscopy

I had 10 Lego bricks when I was a kid. I could build a castle with those 10 bricks.

5-Axis CNC Capability

Animal Research

Motorcycle Parts

Reverse Engineering

What can ShapeMaster MAKE for you?

Contact me, I like to think “outside the box”.
Check us out our website and ask yourself,
“What can ShapeMaster make for me?”
and give us a call at
for more information.
20 Jun 2016


“The sun never sets on the British Empire” was a popular phrase used by Great Britain in the 19th century. During this period in time, Great Britain had colonies all over this world. Hence the sun was always high in the sky where Great Britain had royal subjects. Rest assured, I will not bore you with an extended lecture of 19th century British History.

What’s this have to do with ShapeMaster?

We recently had a major event here at ShapeMaster. We designed, constructed, and shipped an Automated Nutritional Dispensing System (A.N.D.S.) to the land of kiwis and hobbits…that would be New Zealand.

The ANDS and Miss Andy

After the project was secured in a shipping container, sent to the seaport, loaded on the cargo ship Sonche Trader, and hit the high seas, a few of us thought “WOW”!

The Sun Never Sets On A ShapeMaster Product!

This is an amazing and bold statement coming from a company that employs around 15 people, and based in Ogden, Illinois, pop. 800. Not too many companies our size and doing what we do can make this claim.

Where can ShapeMaster product be found?

Our PTFE/Teflon wafer dipper can be found in: China, Korea, Taiwan, Spain, California.

Our motorcycle accessories can be found in: Japan, Russia, Sweden, Great Britain, Canada, Brasil, and the list goes on.

Where ever you are you may have seen our handiwork…

We are very proud here at ShapeMaster for where we are, where we have been, and where we are going!

Over the next few weeks we are going to share some very exciting news, but you may ask yourself “What can be more exciting than knowing the things you make are all over the world?”

Just to whet your cranial appetite.. Did you know ShapeMaster does more than make things? Did you know we have in house the the ability to reverse engineer a whole airplane? Did you know we construct clean rooms, machine guarding, and injection molding (o.k. you can make things with that.)? Did you know we have a highly skilled Project Management team to assist you with your engineering objective?

These are just a few of the exciting things going on here here at ShapeMaster that we will share with you soon.
It is mind blowing to know:

The Sun Never Sets On A ShapeMaster Product!

Before I sign off, I need to ask, what can ShapeMaster make for you?
Check out on our website to view our portfolio or call us today at 1(800)-779-6925 for more information.