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Cutting packaging prototype times with desktop vacuum forming

DIY Vacuum Forming Blister Packaging Prototypes
The FormBox desktop vacuum forming machine in the UTR studio ready for packaging prototypes

How to make custom packaging designs with vacuum forming technology

UTR (Under the Roof) Decorating is a Canadian toolmaking company. It develops, tests, manufactures and supplies an innovative line of home decorating products to retailers around the globe.

From their in-house product innovation lab, the UTR team create a wide range of DIY products inspired by problems observed while working ‘in the field’.

Mayku FormBox Desktop Vacuum Former in use by UTR for Packaging Design
Blueprints and prototypes

Making custom blister pack prototypes and final work using the Mayku FormBox vacuum former

UTR uses the FormBox to prototype its blister packaging designs. The entire UTR product range is blister packed with a printed card backing. Using the FormBox vacuum former and transparent Mayku Cast Sheets, the team is able to replicate mass produced blister packs to a highly professional level without leaving the in-house workshop.

They also have two 3D printers which are used to create prototype blister packaging shapes. Utilising a combination of 3D printing and vacuum forming enables the team to rapidly fabricate new designs and test them with users and prospective buyers, affordably.

Design Packaging with a 3D Printer and a Desktop Vacuum Forming Machine
Making a blister pack with the FormBox, desktop vacuum former and a 3D printer

Common problems with outsourcing packaging design and manufacture

  • Lead time: While UTR designs all of its products in Canada, they are manufactured in China. In the past, it had to get all of its prototypes made there as well. Physical and cultural differences between Canada and China could sometimes cause delays to the development cycle. Sending prototypes from China to Canada was time-consuming, costly and it exposed them to potential damage in-transit.
  • Making models for potential buyers: When creating new products it is important to ascertain how many units certain retailers might consider buying as a first order. UTR can then make accurate estimations of how many units they should order from the factory in China.
    The better quality of the model provided for those retailers, the higher quantity of units they are bound to order, in turn making UTR’s unit cost cheaper.

3D Printed Models for Vacuum Forming Packaging Designs
Finished mold samples 3D printed, ready to be vacuum formed in clear plastics

How can the FormBox vacuum former save you time and money for packaging design?

  • Lead time: By producing all of its packaging in-house with a 3D printer and FormBox, there was no chance of any mistakes being made in the transition from idea to physical form. This totally eradicated the need for prototyping in China and reduced the risk of damage in-transit, shipping delays or expensive mistakes. After introducing the FormBox and 3D printing process, UTR reduced its lead time on packaging development from an average of three months to just two days.
  • Making models for potential buyers: Using the Mayku Cast Sheets allowed UTR to create almost exact single replicas of the mass blister pack manufacturing process. Using these as props for users and retail buyers, they could accurately gauge how many orders they would need to make from the factory.

Blister packaging example using vacuum forming machine the FormBox
Finished blister pack samples thermoformed on the Mayku FormBox

Outsourcing Packaging vs. In-House Vacuum Forming with the Mayku FormBox

S‍o, how does all of this breakdown for your bottom line? How much time and money could you save by bringing taking a diy vacuum forming route? We've broken down the cost comparison of the FormBox investment versus what it might cost you to outsource, you could be save at least £1500 per shape. 

Mayku FormBox

  • Upfront Cost - £599
  • Part Cost - £1
  • Lead time - 3-4 hours
  • Quantity - 30

External Vendor

  • Upfront Cost - £3-4,000
  • Part Cost - £500
  • Lead time - 3 months
  • Quantity - 2

The benefits of using a in-house vacuum forming machine

First off, the Mayku FormBox is lightweight and compact enough to be easy to store and portable whilst working with teams. It's so simple to learn that it's being used in education with children as young as 8, it also works great alongside other desktop manufacturing tools you might already have: CNC mill, 3D printer or a laser cutter. Here are a few more benefits you could gain from switching to in house FormBox-ing over outsourcing to expensive factories. 

  1. Significantly reduced product development time
  2. Increased orders from retailers
  3. Lower costs for better samples
  4. Ability to create near production-quality samples

Still interested? You can learn more about the FormBox and how to integrate it into your current workflow by requesting to Speak to a Specialist. You can also 

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