Additive manufacturing of thermoforming molds delivers performance, savings, and agility.
1,000+ shots
with no apparent wear
Up to 65%
Lead time reduction
Up to 88%
Raw material cost savings

Solutions for 3D Printing Thermoforming Molds

  • Fast Validation

    Total lead times for cast ceramic and machined aluminum molds, as well as machined or hand-crafted prototyping tools, can be as long as 16 weeks. Validate forms faster by 3D printing thermoforming molds in hours or days, dependent on the size. Additive manufacturing also gives companies the agility to respond quickly to a customers’ design changes and even to produce representative prototypes of the final part. 

  • Thermoforming Mold
  • Same mold for final production

    With 3D Systems’ additive manufacturing technologies like EXT pellet extrusion, stereolithography (SLA), selective laser sintering (SLS), and multi-jet printing (MJP), the same mold that is used during the validation process can be used for production, compounding the time and cost savings. 3D Systems thermoforming customers report pulling thousands of shots from 3D printed molds with little to no signs of wear or degradation of performance.

  • Same mold for final production
  • Cost-effective large thermoforming molds

    Large thermoforming molds often come with especially long lead times and high costs when produced with traditional methods. EXT pellet-extrusion 3D printing, on the other hand, enables the use of highly functional thermoforming mold materials at the lowest possible cost with lead times measured in days instead of weeks. 

  • large thermoforming molds

Why Thermoforming with 3D Systems Additive Manufacturing Solutions

Dependent on the additive manufacturing technology and print material chosen, the following benefits versus conventional manufacturing are realized:


    Fast tool production – within hours or days 

    Agility to quickly respond to design changes with little added cost

    Use validated prototype tool for production

    Minimal to no vacuum hole drilling required

    Reduced need for skilled labor in the mold production process

    Value Add: Use the 3D printer to produce representative prototypes of formed parts


    Lead times often between 1 and 16 weeks 

    Design changes can be costly and time intensive to implement

    Conventional prototyping and bridge tools often degenerate due to low-quality material 

    Drilling of vacuum holes required 

    Pattern and mold production require many hours of skilled labor


Choosing the right 3D Systems AM technology for your thermoforming application is an important first step.

Part Size
Medium to LargeSmall to Medium
Sheet Gauge
Medium Gauge <3mm (1/8”) with machining
Heavy Gauge >3mm (1/8”) with light sanding
Thin to Medium Gauge
Up to 3mm (1/8”)
Variable – Medium to CoarseFine
Printed Mold Surface Finish
Variable – Very Good to Coarse* 
*In-situ or post machining can be used to smooth the mold surface
Excellent (SLA) to very good (MJP)
Recommended materials
GF PC, CF PC, CF ABSAccura materials (SLA), VisiJet M2S-HT250 (MJP)
Inherent and controllable + drilled as-neededDesigned-in or drilled

3D Systems Printers and Materials for Thermoforming Molds

  • EXT Titan Pellet extrusion 3D printers for cost-effective, large-format thermoforming molds for medium to heavy gauge sheets

  • Pellet materials: glass-filled ABS and PC pellets produce strong and heat-resistant molds.

  • MJP Printers for fine-featured, complex thermoforming molds for thin sheet forming

  • Strong, rigid material with HDT up to 250C, ideal for high temperature tooling applications 

  • Stereolithography (SLA) 3D  Printers for high-throughput, fine-feature, complex thermoforming molds with excellent surface quality for thin sheet forming 

  • Figure 4 3D Printers for  small, ultra-fast, fine-feature, complex thermoforming molds with excellent surface quality for thin sheet forming 

Do you want to discuss our solutions for 3D printing for thermoforming molds?

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  • Application Innovation Group

    Our team can help you solve your most difficult design and production challenges with additive manufacturing solutions. Together we’ll identify your needs, working with you to optimize your designs, prototype, validate and define a manufacturing flow.