Related to this story
The thermoformer recently moved from Wadsworth, Ohio, four miles away to its new digs in Rittman, said owner James Reedy in a telephone interview.
FastForming specializes in fast mold completion and vacuum forming using proprietary epoxy molds that can be made in a few days.
"Advantages include lower cost, and timing can be significant to get a product to market or to a trade show," he said.
FastForming makes its molds in-house and does vacuum forming with them, but doesn't send the molds out to other thermoformers because it wants to keep its trade secrets close to the vest.
"Our competition is thermoforming using aluminum tools," said Reedy. Aluminum tools take much longer to build and have a higher coefficient of expansion than the epoxy ones, FastForming claims.
The company mainly makes small parts but has gone as big as 4 feet by 6 feet. Housings and intricate moldings are examples of the kind of detail-oriented work the company can do. The technology is especially useful to make families of parts because lead times are so much shorter.
FastForming's epoxy mold technology was developed by Del Reedy, James Reedy's father, some 35 years ago based on experience he had working on high-temperature aerospace components. Del Reedy owns Sandel Products, a Los Angeles thermoformer that uses the same epoxy technology.
FastForming has invested about $600,000 in a new, 12,000-square-foot building and new computer numerically controlled equipment for the Rittman plant. That investment approximates FastForming's recent annual sales. Sandel is about twice as big in annual revenue.
James Reedy moved to Ohio in 1999 to start his business. It formerly was known as Plastics Design and Manufacturing, but because there are several other U.S. firms with that name he decided a few years ago to rename it to FastForming to avoid frequent confusion.
FastForming builds a wood prototype from which it pulls a part for customer approval. It then makes a polyurethane casting from which the hand lay-up epoxy tool is formed. He said the tool withstands numerous cycles.
In addition to the unusual tooling, Del Reedy created vacuum forming machines that extract sheet from the oven, position it over the tool and form the part in less than two seconds, the firm claims. Such speed means many products previously made by pressure forming can now be made by vacuum forming. Vacuum formed parts can also be alternatives to injection molded ones.
The Reedy process can handle a range of sheet, from 0.005 to 0.5 inches thick.