Thermoformed Packaging Molds at The Warren Group

The Warren Group located in Santa Fe Springs CA, designs and manufacturers prototype and production packaging solutions for the industrial, automotive and consumer products industries. For the past seven years, The Warren Group has relied on VisualCAM for SOLIDWORKS to program the toolpaths they need to drive their two 5×10 Multicam CNC machining centers.
The Warren Group also designs and machines their own tooling used in the production of thermoformed packaging products. In the example shown here, VisualCAM for SOLIDWORKS is used to produce the toolpaths required to machine this mold block from RenShape® Tooling board on the company’s 3 Axis MultiCAM CNC machining center. The completed mold is used to manufacture the thermoformed 0.020” clear PVC packaging for this product.
Let’s have a closer look.

3 Axis Roughing

In the illustrations below we see the 3 Axis Horizontal Roughing toolpath that VisualCAM calculated was needed to rough out the 3” thick piece of RenShape® Tooling board using a ⅜” diameter end mill. The Cut Parameters include a Stock allowance of 0.025”, an Offset Cut Pattern, Mixed Cut Direction, and a 0.125” Stepover. Cut Level Parameters include a 0.375” Stepdown, Depth First cut level ordering and a Bottom Z limit of -2.375”. For Engage/Retract, a Path motion is used with a linear extension of 0.275”. Cut Arc Fitting is applied at each Z level. The estimated machining time is 38 mins.

Here we see VisualCAM performing the cut material simulation for the actual 3 Axis Horizontal Roughing toolpath used to produce this mold. In the initial toolpath display you will see the arc motions displayed in dark blue.

Here we see the Z Level Display dialog showing us that a total of 7 levels are used and that the 4th level (at -1.475) is displayed.

2½ Axis Finishing

To begin the finishing process a series of 2½ Axis toolpath strategies (Pocketing, Profiling & Engraving) are used to machine the top and bottom base flanges using a ¼” end mill. Pocketing is used to machine the flange surfaces to a finished Z depth. Profiling and Engraving are used to clean up the edges between the top and bottom flanges. The toolpaths for these operations are shown together below.

2½ Axis Finishing Toolpaths, Pocketing, Profiling & Engraving


3 Axis Finishing

For the final finishing four separate 3 Axis Parallel Finishing toolpath strategies are used. Each follows the part surfaces in the Z Axis. The first two cut along the X axis zero direction using part boundary offsets of 1/16” and 1/32” as containment. Cut Parameters include Tool: 0.0625” radius 2 degree carbide Taper Mill, Tolerance: 0.001”, Stock: zero, Cut Direction: Mixed, Angle of Cuts: 0 (zero), Stepover: 10% (of the tool diameter), Z Containment Limit: -2.375, Linear Entry/Exit and Straight Cut Connections. The estimated machining time for the first two operations is just under 15 mins. The second two are identical except that they follow the Y Axis 90 degree direction and are completed in 12 mins.

3 Axis Parallel Finishing at zero degrees using 1/16” Part Offset

Here we see VisualCAM performing the cut material simulation for the initial 3 Axis Parallel Finishing toolpath. A total of four finishing toolpaths are used, two running at zero degrees (X) and two at 90 degrees (Y).

Machining Operations Information


“I like how each toolpath operation in VisualCAM has default parameters that can be adjusted to suit your needs. Our VisualCAM Knowledge Bases have all of the parameter values that we know work well for our materials and CNC machines.”

Edgar Mota, Lead Designer,

The Warren Group, Santa Fe Springs, CA


A special thanks to The Warren Group for allowing us to share their VisualCAM success story!

More about The Warren Group

The Warren Group specializes in custom packaging, displays and signage for the industrial, automotive and consumer products industries from their 15,000 square foot facility in Santa Fe Springs CA. From concept & design to prototype & production The Warren Group uses only the best CAD/CAM tools and software on the market, including VisualCAM-MILL for SOLIDWORKS! For more information about The Warren Group we invite you to visit them online at

One of the The Warren Group’s Multicam CNC Machining Centers in action.


Don LaCourse

Don LaCourse

Don LaCourse is an Application Engineer with MecSoft Corporation. Don brings over 20 years of experience in CAD/CAM operations in both automotive and mold design applications. Don also has extensive experience in documenting CAD/CAM products and is actively involved with writing the on-line help as well as creating training tutorials for MecSoft's products.
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