What is Thermoforming?
Pressure Forming • Vacuum Forming • Twin Sheet Forming
Metuchen New Jersey Conyers Georgia Mooresville, North Carolina
Thermoforming is a manufacturing process where a plastic sheet is heated to a pliable forming temperature, just below the glass transition state. The plastic sheet is heated to a temperature below its glass transition temperature so that it is soft and pliable, but not so hot that it melts. The plastic sheet is then placed over the mold and vacuum is applied to the underside of the sheet. The vacuum draws the sheet down into the mold, taking on its shape.
Heating plastic just below its glass transition temperature can also be used to improve the impact strength of the plastic. Impact strength is the ability of a plastic to resist breaking when it is hit. When plastic is heated just below its glass transition temperature, the molecular chains in the plastic become more entangled, which makes the plastic more resistant to breaking.
The heated plastic is then formed to a specific shape in a vacuum mold, and trimmed to create a usable product. In the case where you need high detail, we exert pressure down onto the mold which lets us control details in the mold.
There are two main types of thermoforming:
Vacuum forming: This is the most common type of thermoforming. In vacuum forming, the plastic sheet is heated and placed over a mold. A vacuum is then applied to the underside of the sheet, which draws the sheet down into the mold. The sheet cools and hardens in the mold, taking on the shape of the mold.
Pressure forming: In pressure forming, the plastic sheet is heated and placed over a mold. A pressure plate is then lowered onto the sheet, forcing it to conform to the shape of the mold. The sheet cools and hardens in the mold.
Thermoforming can replace a number of other manufacturing processes, including:
Injection molding: Injection molding is a process where molten plastic is injected into a mold. It is a versatile process that can be used to produce a wide variety of plastic products, but it is also a relatively expensive process. Thermoforming is a more cost-effective alternative for producing large, flat plastic parts.
Compression molding: Compression molding is a process where a heated plastic compound is placed in a mold and then pressed under heat and pressure until it takes the shape of the mold. It is a good process for producing parts with complex shapes, but it is also a relatively slow and expensive process. Thermoforming is a faster and more cost-effective alternative for producing parts with simple shapes.
Extrusion: Extrusion is a process where molten plastic is forced through a die to create a continuous tube or sheet of plastic. It is a good process for producing long, thin plastic parts, but it is not as versatile as thermoforming. Thermoforming can be used to produce a wider variety of plastic parts, including parts with complex shapes.
Blow molding: Blow molding is a process where a molten plastic tube is inflated into a mold. It is a good process for producing hollow plastic parts, but it is not as versatile as thermoforming. Thermoforming can be used to produce a wider variety of plastic parts, including solid parts and parts with complex shapes.
Thermoforming is a versatile and cost-effective manufacturing process that can be used to produce a wide variety of plastic parts. It can replace a number of other manufacturing processes, making it a good choice for many applications.
Why use thermoforming and how can it replace some of my current processes?
It is a more cost-effective process: Thermoforming is a relatively inexpensive process, making it a good choice for mass production.
It is a faster process: Thermoforming is a faster process than injection molding or compression molding, making it a good choice for applications where time is critical.
It is a more versatile process: Thermoforming can be used to produce a wider variety of plastic parts than other processes, making it a good choice for applications with complex or unique requirements.
It is a more environmentally friendly process: Thermoforming uses less energy than other processes, making it a more environmentally friendly option.
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From Concept to Completion
The engineering staff at C+K Plastics, with collective experience of more than 130 years. We help you identify the best material and process best suited for your specific application. We also leverage our expertise to assist with design and tolerance considerations.
Our goal is to make your product as cost effective as possible, without compromising the quality, integrity or overall performance our customers have come to expect.
C+K Plastics provides in-house mold design with the ability to provide pre-production samples of patterns. This enables our customers to evaluate samples prior to investing in production tooling.
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