Thermoforming | CNC Machining Updates and News

07 Nov 2017

ShapeMaster scores a hole-in-one with a custom made table!

Recently we were asked to design a table for a company who is in the business of greens management for golf courses and they wanted a table that reflected their business to a tee. Do you get it?

They were aware of our involvement in a charity event a few years ago where we made 3 foot in diameter golf balls.

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The client proceeded to describe what he wanted, but as we all know, a picture speaks a thousand words.

 

Just to let you know, we did not have any CAD drawings, nor specific measurements. We just had this and the client asked if we could make this.

And we said:

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Of course we can we are ShapeMaster!

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One of our lead engineers, Andrew, took this image and came up with this design drawing.

Just to let you know what goes into planning something like this, Andrew will provide, in his words, the details:

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We used an existing molded golf ball half and tee from a past project.

  

We started by cutting three plywood discs on our Thermwood router. Two discs 24” diameter and one 36” diameter disc all made of ¾” birch plywood.
Because the tees originally made were much shorter than what we needed for this project, so we used PVC pipe to extend the tee to a 20” length. We then bonded it all together with PVC cement and used body filler around the outside to blend the seam.
Next we screwed 1 ½” galvanized floor flanges to the bottom and top plywood circles. A length of galvanized pipe supported the table top and provided a cord run so lights could be added.
The next step was to dry fit everything together to make sure the height was correct and the table was level.

Once we were satisfied with the fitment we took apart and sanded, primed, and painted the tee and the base
Once the paint was dry. We reassembled the pipe to the base and placed the tee over the pipe and made sure it was square and level. We then poured 3 lbs. density expanding urethane foam into the tee to lock it in position and provide rigidity.
With the tee and base finished, we placed the golf ball half over the pipe and screwed the plywood top with floor flange attached onto the pipe. Then we secured the golf ball perimeter to the plywood.

When all was said and done…Voila!

 

Give us a call or shoot us an email and challenge us to make something SPECTACULAR and UNIQUE for you, your business, or your organization!

16 Oct 2017

When It Comes to Ag Research Soil Diagnostics and ShapeMaster Make a Great Team!!

In our last Newsletter we told you about our second injection molding project.  In this issue, we would like to tell you more about this revolutionary soil testing device straight from the Award Winning Scientist himself, Dr. Kaustubh Bhalerao of Soil Diagnostics regarding his FertiSaver-N Beta Program:

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The FertiSaver-N Beta Program is now underway at two laboratories in East Central Illinois. GMS Laboratories in Cropsey, IL and CropSmith Inc. in Farmer City, IL are the first providers of the FertiSaver-N test. At Soil Diagnostics, we thank them for their support and patience as we work through the initial roll out of the hardware and the software. Both companies have pioneering nitrogen management programs that boost grower profitability through precision nitrogen placement.

Both companies understand the role of biology in the nitrogen cycle and work with nature to cut input costs where possible, and boost yields where they can. Soil Diagnostics is working closely with GMS Labs and Cropsmith to ensure that the FertiSaver-N system works well with their internal workflow.

The FertiSaver-N system is complex, consisting of specially designed reaction containers, a simplified and re-engineered chemistry, test hardware that simplifies record keeping, and the Dashboard that manages everything over a browser. During the development of the system, we worked with soil chemists and soil microbiologists, CAD and prototyping experts, process engineers who helped design the current reaction jars, and of course our customers who helped mold the look and feel of the software program.

 

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A special thank you to ShapeMaster, Inc. in Ogden, IL who was instrumental in making our custom jars a reality. Jim Walthall at ShapeMaster is a creative process and design engineer who oversaw the production of the reaction containers, and worked with us to make sure that the jars complied with our very stringent performance and ergonomics specifications. The picture above is from the production line at ShapeMaster. Photo credit goes to Brian Holden at ShapeMaster.

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Last, but not the least, Soil Diagnostics, Inc. received a critical and welcome impetus from Dr. Edwin Moore. The FertiSaver-N product won the inaugural Edwin Moore Family Agriculture Innovation Prize of 2017 which helped finance the manufacturing process.

The FertiSaver-N is just the beginning. Precision nitrogen management is now a feasible reality. FertiSaver-N aligns grower profitability with environmental sustainability.

We want to thank Dr. Bhalerao for the opportunity to be a part of this revolutionary soil testing system.
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Let ShapeMaster help you move your project forward!

02 Oct 2017

We have recently completed a unique injection molding project we would like to share with you.

A few months ago we were contacted by an award winning research scientist from the University of Illinois.  Our customer was developing a system for soil testing.  The soil sample needed to be incubated in a reusable plastic container resistant to mild acids and bases. It needed a lid that was easy to remove and provided an air-tight seal on the jar.

The customer brought in an initial prototype container that was not meeting his design criteria.  The container was a machined part that had a screw-on top.  This design was very expensive to make and the customer’s volume dictated that we redesign the container for injection molding.

 

Original Soil Container

Original design from machined material. Very expensive and time consuming to produce.

 

Our engineering department looked at the original design and determined that mold cost for the screw threads would not allow the project to continue to move forward.

The design challenge included the following four points:

  1. Design a lid that would replace the screw-on lid that will have a positive seal and maintain that seal up to 5 PSI pressure inside the container.
  2. Design the lid to be easily removable.
  3. Select a material that will be chemically resistant to the mild acid solution that the scientist uses.
  4. Design an internal structure that holds the test samples in the proper fashion.

 

New injection molded design

 

The design solutions were as follows:

  1. ShapeMaster engineering department decided that a glass filed polypropylene would give us the rigidity and chemical resistance that was needed.  Once the material was selected, the design team went to work on the lid design.
  2. The lid design had to be strong enough to handle the internal pressures but also be easy to mold.  The first design attempt was a simple 4 lug design in which the lid locked in place by engaging 4 pins on the container.  This design was very easy to mold but failed the pressure testing by the customer.  The lid seal was leaking where we did not have a locking lug on the container lid.  The ShapeMaster engineering team decided to design a multilug ¼ turn lock system that applied even pressure on the container.  With the right application of correct durometer (hardness) of an “O”-ring seal, we were able to meet the requirements.

 

Lid and base

 

Prototypes were then 3-D printed and actual physical testing was performed by the customer.

 

Test container using ABS plastic. Nice color, but not suitable for scientific research.

 

The next step was to design the tooling, have it built and run parts.

Watch for our next newsletter for information about the new and revolutionary soil testing device.

20 Sep 2017

Q: Dry On A Rainy Day?  A: ShapeMaster Breezeway!

In Close to 30 years, ShapeMaster has grown from a small converted garage to a complex of buildings that take up the better part of a city block!

Unfortunately, these buildings are not connected together in any fashion.

This means anytime someone needs to go to a different building, they have to go outside. This is great when the weather is nice, sunny, pleasant temperatures, light breeze, but not so much fun when it is rainy, windy, or snowing. Here in Illinois, the weather can go from nice to nasty on a dime.

One of our buildings is, from door to door, 8 feet away from another. You may think that this is not a big distance. Just imagine this…There is a torrential spring downpour and you need to go from building A to building B. You think “I can make it. I won’t get that wet.”, so you jet out of the door of building A. Just when you get to the door of building B you find out the door to building B is locked, and since the handle was wet, your hand slips, and you face plant on the door of building B. Not wasting any time, you pivot on one foot and bound back to the door of building A, just in time to see that the door on building A had closed and locked. During this time, the rain has not let up. Soaked to your marrow, a clap of thunder mocks you, you gather up what’s left of your pride, and walk to the front door which is on the other side of the main building. Sitting soggy for the rest of the day, you ponder the events of the day and wonder if the situation could have been avoided.

The boss, Ken “Big Daddy” Cooley, cares about his employees, and wonders, too, how a situation such as the above could have been avoided.

Assessing the area between these two buildings and taking stock of the resources he has at his disposal, Ken determines the best way to remedy this is a breezeway.

Ken appoints a dry employee to spearhead this project and encourages him to formulate a design and plan for completion. Once the plan has Ken’s blessing, construction may begin.

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The Breezeway from A to B

Plans in place let’s build something!

The person whom Ken appointed to take on this endeavor had never built anything like this before, but with guidance and encouragement, you can accomplish anything!

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Instead of framing with the typical building materials such as 2x4s, glass, and, drywall, we used a product called 80/20. You may have heard us mention this amazing product before, but for those who have not, 80/20 is basically an Erector set for big kids. The possibilities with 80/20 are endless! ShapeMaster is your premier distributor for 80/20! (Give us a call and we can talk about your next 80/20 project.)

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As with any building project, lines need to be straight

 

And level…That bubble looks spot on!

 

80/20 will not warp or swell, and every extruded piece is guaranteed not to have any knot holes!

80/20 may be sawed, drilled, machined. It can be manipulated, shaped, and even powder coated. As mentioned earlier, the possibilities are endless with 80/20 and ShapeMaster.

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We see the breezeway taking shape and notice the 80/20 brochure serves as the perfect shim. I told you the possibilities were endless

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ShapeMaster custom made polycarbonate roof and gutters using a computer guided press break. This is a fine example of ShapeMaster once again taming plastic with skill and precision.

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A door provides shelter against the elements and allows foot traffic to and from the front door of ShapeMaster.  Take note of the plastic used for the door and side wall. It is a corrugated polycarbonate. It is many times lighter and has similar protective properties as the solid sheet. The version used here also provides UV protection. We use it here at ShapeMaster for guarding against flying debris from the work we do, machine guarding so appendages do not become disassociated from oneself, and yes, we do use this corrugation as windows. Come by ShapeMaster sometime and we can show you (please call ahead). If you have a situation where you need protection from flying debris and/or machine guarding, 80/20 and ShapeMaster are the best solution available!

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With the breezeway fully complete, ShapeMaster employees may walk between buildings without the anxiety of getting soaked!

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Ken could have gone to a construction firm to build this breezeway, but building it oneself gives you a sense of pride, saves money, and gave an employee a chance to do something that they have never done before. Most of all it showcases a real life situation that was solved by ShapeMaster.

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If you like what you see, have questions about 80/20, or have a situation where you need protection against flying debris, machinery, or the elements, give us a call at the number at the top of the page, or click “Request a Quote”. We would love to hear from you and discuss the infinite number of options available to you from 80/20 and ShapeMaster!

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.
Easy-Peasy.
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

INTRODUCING OUR NEWEST SERVICE: INJECTION MOLDING

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

WHAT CAN’T BE VACUUM FORMED?

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.

Sincerely,

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.