Cutting Packing Prototype Times with the FormBox and 3D Printing

Packaging prototypes

Sir James M. Barrie once said nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else. I think we can all relate to this when it comes to decorating, which can be enjoyable or a bit of a slog depending on your mindset.

Something that helps make decorating enjoyable (and, in some cases, possible at all) is having the right tools. With the right tools, such as a roller to paint large areas instead of a brush, or a belt sander instead of just sandpaper, tasks become easier, simpler and faster to complete. This efficiency is worth its weight in gold.

UTR (Under the Roof) Decorating is a Canadian toolmaking firm who supply retailers, designers and decorators with an innovative range of decorating products designed to make the art of decorating easier and more pleasurable. In particular, they are focussed on the art of hanging and organising.

Their product range is inspired by problems observed while working ‘in the field’. For example, they have a brilliant unique toolbox for decorator’s to organise hanging items and they recently brought to market the ingenious DécoHammer, a hammer specifically designed for picture hanging (and similar work) with a lightweight, non-slip handle and perfect weighting. It has a 5oz steelhead and is compact enough to store in a short drawer.


Many of these products have unique dimensions and specifications, which means they require bespoke packaging. The challenge with this is designing packaging while keeping development costs low. Also, outsourcing this process has its own problems, such as quality control and a language barrier when outsourcing to places like China, which is what UTR was doing before they found the Mayku FormBox.

An inexpensive vacuum former

One of the best things about vacuum forming is you can rapidly produce iterations of a mould and shape without it costing a lot of money.

The plastic sheets that are used cost about a quid each and sometimes less when bought in bulk. This enables companies to iterate quickly and cheaply.


The not so great thing about traditional vacuum formers is their size and cost. Those considered industrial or commercial grade have dedicated suction which not only adds to the size of the machine, but also the cost.

Entry-level machines retail for around £2,000 ex VAT and some can cost upwards of £6,000.

In comparison, the Mayku FormBox is diddy both in size and cost.

It costs £595.80 including VAT and uses a vacuum cleaner for its suction. This makes it small and light enough to be picked up and carried around.

Using the FormBox to manufacture packaging prototypes

UTR use their FormBox to make packaging prototypes in-house. Using the Mayku FormBox and transparent Mayku Cast Sheets, the team is able to replicate mass-produced blister packs without leaving the in-house workshop.

Packaging prototypes 3

Before they had their FormBox, they outsourced the production of their prototypes to China. Their partner there produced products of high quality, but the distances involved regularly caused transit delays. The process was also expensive and inefficient. Sometimes, prototypes would also be delivered to Canada damaged.

“With the FormBox teamed up with our 3D printers, we’ve been able to drop our packaging development times from weeks to literally days,” says UTR.

Packaging prototypes 2

By moving the production of packaging prototypes in-house, UTR is able to ensure no mistakes are made in the transition from idea to physical form. They have also saved a lot of time and money by eradicating the need for prototyping in China.

To enhance their prototyping process, UTR also utilises 3D printing to manufacture the models for the vacuum forming process. They can print a model in around half a day and create hundreds of vacuum moulds in the second half of the day. This efficient production process gives them a massive workflow advantage.

How does the FormBox work?

Mayku FormBox guide

For those of you interested in the FormBox, you’ll be pleased to know it’s exceptionally easy to use. In fact, anyone can use a FormBox. Only six steps are required:

Step1: Select a material to create your 3D form from. The FormBox is compatible with PET-G, HIPS, ABS, polystyrene, polycarbonate, polyethene and acrylic PMMA.

Step 2: Insert the material onto the lifting frame. There are pre-cut Form Sheets and Cast Sheets available. We recommend using these for a perfect experience.

Step 3: Choose a 3D template (object) to replicate. You can use anything you like, so long as it fits on the FormBox bed. Coffee mugs, apples, a busk of yourself… whatever you like.

Step 4: Switch on the FormBox heater. This will heat up the plastic. The rotary dial has a few different heat settings. Select the correct one for the plastic you’re using.

Step 5: Turn on your vacuum cleaner. Turn on your vacuum cleaner to create suction beneath the FormBox bed. You can use the highest setting if you have one.

Step 6: Pull the heated thermoplastic over the template. Once the plastic is heated up, pull it over the template to perform the last stage of production.

Purchase your Mayku FormBox for £595.80 including VAT here.

This case study was first published on the Mayku website. All images are credited to Mayku and UTR