Central to any discussion about 3D laminating is a discussion of press types, and what makes them distinct from one another. Deeper into that discussion is a dialog on the function of each press and what the advantages/disadvantag- es are. The following is an attempt o clear up some of the mystery
behind 3D laminating.
All 3D laminating is a result of
heat and pressure over time, just
like fossil fuels, only no animals
have been killed in the process
of making 3D laminated components. The heat and pressure
that is applied in the process of
3D laminating (let’s use 3DL as
For a shop just starting out with
an acronym) is different based on
the type of machine being oper-
ating. The type of machine being
operated is often determined by
product volume, and/or required
definition of that product. So
let’s start at the beginning - entry
3DL it has been a common prac-
tice to purchase a vacuum press.
Vacuum presses are entry level
machines that provide adequate
heat and pressure to get the job
of 3DL done, however, there are
limitations to what they can do.
A vacuum press is also referred to as a “single-chamber”
machine. In other words, there
is only one area in the press that
affects the forming of the overlay.
We call this area a chamber, or
The process is fairly simple,
zone if you will. The way a vacu-
um press works is strictly through
heat and vacuum within a single
chamber. The heat is supplied
through an external element in
the hood, or top of the press. The
overlay is heated through radiant
heat, and when it is ready to be
formed there is a vacuum drawn
through the lower chamber to
form the overlay around the
components that are staged on
the bed of the machine.
but the ability to get high defini-
tion of shapes and tight corners
is difficult with a vacuum press.
Both the tooling and the pro-
cedure need to be modified in
order to have good success with a
Unwrapping the mystery
behind 3D laminating
Let’s talk chambers
By Ed Strahota
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