Our Vacuum Forming Mold Process

1) The Pattern:

The process of making a J&M Ceramic Tool begins with the pattern. Generally made of perfect plank, we either produce the pattern to your specifications or work from your supplied pattern. All J&M produced patterns are carefully evaluated, scrutinized, and prepared to achieve the best possible finish. Other materials are available upon request.

2) The Negative (a.k.a. SPLASH):

This is the first step in building a ceramic vacuum forming mold. Through our lamination process, a reverse copy of the pattern is produced — essentially a thin tool in the negative form. This process generally takes a day. Once the splash has been completed, we trim the edges, reinforce the perimeter and mold surface, release it from the pattern, and then prep the surface. If prototyping is not required, the pattern can be cut as the negative – thus eliminating this step, which saves both time and money.

3) The Vacuum Forming Mold:

With the splash complete, we begin work on the tool. A surface coat of ceramic material is applied, and allowed to harden. We then build the tool in several applications over the course of two to 4 days, depending on the size and shape of the project. Each application is painstakingly applied so as to eliminate any air voids, which makes for a rock solid tool.

4) Bracing:

A J&M vacuum forming mold has a hollow cavity, so the interior void of each one receives custom bracing. Each set of braces is evaluated on a case by case basis in order to determine the most effective way to ensure the structural integrity of the mold. We use furniture grade plywood, cut to mirror the contour of the mold, which is arranged in an “egg crate” or honeycomb fashion, and then ultimately married to the interior of the mold.

5) Prep:

We take extreme pride in our attention to detail. Depending on your request and the type of plastic you will be running, we have a number of finishing options: From a simple 80 grit finish for materials such as ABS, all the way to a polished mirror like finish required for materials such as acrylic. We even offer media blasting surfaces for rubberized materials such as TPO.

6) Drilling:

Every vacuum forming mold is hand drilled to your specifications. From 1/8″ or 1/16″ bits for patterns, 3/64″ and 1/32″ diameter bits for most tools, and on down to the microscopic 1/64 (.0160 diameter) bits that we use for face drilling TPO tools, we take the time to do it and do it right.

7) The Vacuum Box & Base:

Unless otherwise requested, our vacuum forming tools are all mounted on a (nearly) bulletproof vacuum box which is constructed on legs to meet your particular requirements, and then married to the tool with ceramic material and screws. Over the years we have reached a decision on the design that we feel provides the best balance of stability and light weight, but we are more than happy to build to your specifications.
Vacuum Box & Base

8) Quality Control:

Before it is delivered or shipped, each vacform tool goes through our quality control process. It will be checked for vacuum, foil taped, and then approved for surface quality. Despite attention to detail and precision, mistakes can and do happen. This is how we catch them.

OUR PROCESS October 25, 2017


J&M Enterprises, LLC
69735 Brizendine st.
Edwardsburg, MI 49112
Email: jmchenry@jmenterprises.net