Vacuum Formed Engine cover

Vacuum Forming Tooling Project – Case Study

An Axiom Case Study

This case study explores how Axiom worked with a customer on this Vacuum forming tooling project. We created a perfect product, from tooling optimized for manufacturing efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Initial Product Design

Axiom were approached by a marine customer to assist with the very low volume production of a electric motor cover. The customer was supplying an electric powertrain system for a one-off design yacht. The bespoke design powertrain required some bespoke motor covers to protect the electric motor from damage. The requirement was initially for two motor covers, being a handed pair (a mirror image of each other).

The initial design for the motor covers was provided by the customer and reviewed by Axiom.

Vacuum Forming

Design advice from Axiom

We suggested that the best way to manufacture, was to vacuum form the covers. Some changes were made to the design which would simplify the manufacturing process without affecting the functionality of the product. We recommended minimum draft angles along with maximum allowed radiuses to aid the effectiveness of the vacuum forming process. In addition, we suggested adding a negative feature and the use of interchangeable inserts. Therefore one tool could be used to produce both mirror images.

After discussion with the customer a final design for the engine covers was agreed. This met their functional requirements, was visually pleasing but was also optimized for production.

Vacuum Forming Tooling Design and Manufacture

We then designed in 3D CAD the tooling that would be used to produce the motor covers to the customer’s final design.

vacuum forming tool design
Vacuum Forming Tool Design

As the requirement was for a handed pair, we manufactured one tool with inserts which could be changed from side to side to produce a mirror image. This was a cheaper option than manufacturing two tools. We advised that the tooling should be manufactured from Ebaboard. Due to the low volume of items required, the tool only needed to be used four times (one set of covers for the boat and one set of spares). The use of this material kept tooling costs to a minimum.

Vacuum Forming Tooling project
Vacuum Forming Tooling for motor cover

The Final Product

The motor covers were then vacuum formed by an Axiom Network Partner company, who are specialist vacuum formers. The finished products were returned to Axiom for final trimming and quality inspection to ensure they met all the design requirements. They were additionally inspected to ensure they would be visually acceptable to this discerning customer.

Vacuum Formed Engine cover
Vacuum formed motor cover

The customer was delighted with the final products. These will shortly be heading to the yacht builder with the rest of the electric powertrain manufactured for this special boat project. We at Axiom are delighted to have completed another successful vacuum forming tooling project, from initial design input through to supplying the finished product.

Contact us to see how we can help you with any Vacuum Forming projects.

Alternatively for more detail on how vacuum forming works read our blog Unmasking the power of vacuum forming: Where suction meets function.

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