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What is thermoforming?

What is thermoforming?

2021-01-09

What is thermoforming

 

Thermoforming

Thermoforming is a plastic molding technique that results in a variety of highly usable products. During this manufacturing process, thin plastic sheets are heated in order to make them easy to manipulate. Once a sheet reaches a pliable temperature, it is formed over a male or female mold. After being cooled to a finished shape, the end product is trimmed in order to increase its usability.

 

Two Types of Thermoforming

There are two main types of thermoforming: vacuum forming and pressure forming. Vacuum forming uses heat and pressure to draw plastic sheets into its final configuration. Once a sheet is heated and placed over a mold, a vacuum is used to manipulate it into its desired shape.

 

Pressure forming has many similarities to vacuum forming, but has the added benefit of additional pressure. This pressure allows for greater detail and texture, making it a solid choice when aesthetics are an issue.

 

Common Uses

Many uses are available for thermoforming. One of the more common is packaging, particularly rigid packaging for food and consumer goods, but it has many other applications. Because sheets of varying thickness can be used, this technique is equally applicable to creating toys as it is to building permanent surfaces on automobiles.

 

Advantages

Thermoforming has a number of advantages. One of its main draws is that it is very adaptable to a customer’s design needs. With a fast turnaround time, it can be used for last-minute shipments or as a quick way to develop a prototype.

 

It is also a relatively low-cost means of production: the materials are optimized for cost effectiveness and can lead to lower tooling costs.

 

Finally, the results can be very aesthetically pleasing. Colored and paintable plastics are available, allowing for a wide range of customization to meet customer needs.

 

Disadvantages

There are also several disadvantages associated with thermoforming. This process is limited to thin walled parts and there are limitations to the complexity of shapes it can be used to create. Each piece requires trimming, which adds time to the process.

 

Despite its disadvantages, thermoforming provides a flexible and cost effective method for creating a huge variety of products.

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