Project at a Glance

End Product
Dental X-Ray Machine
Pressure Forming
Molded-In-Color GenDex Dental 3D imaging

Tight Timetables and Consistent Cosmetics for a Dental X-Ray Machine

Imaging equipment from Gendex, which is now part of DEXIS. Profile Plastics pressure formed multiple parts, most with articulated undercuts.

Aggressive lead times from “art to part” were just the start. Gendex needed design assistance, matching parts with assembly-ready points of attachment, and a manufacturing partner who could meet the stringent quality requirements of the medical industry. Profile Plastics delivered.

Challenge: How do you start an urgent and complex project without a final design?

Gendex developed an entry-level, panoramic dental X-ray machine with higher-end motion control. The medical equipment manufacturer needed 9 plastic parts for the analog version and 12 plastic parts for the digital version of this machine.

Most of these parts included undercuts, features that provide a fastening point or locating edge for assembly. There are several plastics manufacturing processes that support undercuts, but most injection molding guidelines recommend avoiding undercuts because they add complexity and costs.

Pressure Formed Dental EquipmentGendex faced another challenge as well. The design wasn’t ready for manufacturing, but all the parts needed to match and would require concurrent development. Moreover, the plastic panels needed to be aesthetically-pleasing with clean edges and consistent color, texture, and gloss.

Gendex was on a tight timetable, too. Injection molds are expensive, and they can take months to produce. Plus, injected molded parts are susceptible to visible defects such as sink marks, knit lines, and gate marks. Since the project required UL-approved plastic, it was especially important to minimize material waste.

Solution: Partner with a thermoformer who works well under pressure  

Compared to injection molding, pressure forming uses less expensive tooling that also takes less time to produce. Profile Plastics designed the tooling for this thermoforming project and readily supported the undercuts that Gendex needed for parts that featured a finished look and without visibly trimmed edges.

To achieve part release, Profile Plastics used pneumatically-actuated solenoids that leveraged the digital programming logic of its pressure forming machines. Because of the medical equipment’s elliptical design, the undercuts were placed in different sections and on both sides of each thermoformed part.

Undercuts supported the clean part-to-part fit-up that Gendex required, but the benefits of Profile’s expertise didn’t end there. The machined aluminum molds were cost-effective, and these water-cooled tools supported the production of parts that are dimensionally stable and free from sink marks, warping, and other defects.

Thanks to Profile’s pressure-forming expertise, the final parts were also consistent in terms of color, texture, and gloss. Through the strength of its supplier network, Profile Plastics was also able to source plastics that satisfied the UL requirements Gendex needed to meet.

Adding Value Through a Complete Solution

Profile Plastics completed this project on time and within budget, enabling Gendex to achieve its production and marketing goals. In addition to pressure forming, Profile performed in-house multi-color parts decoration with a labeling technique that resists chemicals and abrasion.

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