If you wish to understand the idea of this particular process, the idea is to take a piece, or sheet of plastic material and make it into a three-dimensional shape, pliable and then to finish it into a product that could be usable in specific industries.
Therefore, we can say that the thermoforming process is making pieces of lightweight plastic into materials that are commonly used in a wide array of industries from healthcare to pharmaceutics.
We decided to present to you an entire process of thermoforming so that you can do it by yourself with proper equipment.
- Creating A Design
You should have in mind that each thermoforming process has to start with a specific design that you wish to implement. In most cases, you will use plastic in the form of a more significant product. You will see it as an outer piece of equipment that features aesthetic covering.
It does not matter how you wish to make it because designing products starts as a drawing or making CAD model.
In most cases, people choose to go with the CAD model, and you can send it to the company so that engineers can determine whether the model can become a part of reality.
As soon as you finish designing, the idea is to find the appropriate equipment that will help you complete the project with ease.
The most commonly used plastic material for thermoforming is ABS plastic, but you can also consider other options due to functional or aesthetical reasons such as high heat and fire-rated materials.
Check here if you wish to learn more about ABS plastic.
Since every single possibility comes with unique benefits and physical properties, you will be able to create a wide selection of textured and colored material that will improve the appearance of your product in overall.
You should remember that the thermoforming process requires the creation of the mold in which you are going to put plastic and heat it. This particular process is known as tooling. Most manufacturers use aluminum molds because they are the most accurate.
Of course, everything depends on the complexity and size of the material that you wish to use to complete the project; however, it is possible to combine different parts into a single mold. That will reduce material costs, tooling costs as well as production time.
The idea is to find a service that will provide you large-scale thermoforming capabilities so that you can get the most out of it.
- Thermoforming Process
Finally, it is time for the thermoforming process to start. However, you have to make sure that tooling is created and materials are selected. Therefore, the next step is to form the plastic based on the mold.
They will do it by heating the plastic sheet to pliable temperature, and after that, they will shape it by using the mold as well as vacuum pressure or air pressure.
When the material reaches the point of mold formation, the idea is to remove it and cool it down so that it can retain the final shape. Have in mind that the final project tends to cool against the mold surface and you should create optimal, ambient temperature to reduce residual stress.
When a piece of plastic cools down after the thermoforming process, the original material needs to be cut away or trimmed. Most manufacturers use robotic trimmers that can deal with precise and complex shapes without losing too much time.
Therefore, your result will be more accurate and flexible cuts as well as faster production. Most trimmers will deal with secondary operations as well such as other features that require material removal.
The best way to learn more on thermoplastic is by visiting this website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoplastic.
- Secondary Operation
After trimming and thermoforming, you should be patient and understand that there are a few things you should do such as adding the final touch.
You will be able to get secondary operations such as silk screening, painting, installation of fastening devices and inserts, RFI/EMI shielding and assembly of hardware, handles and hinges.
Of course, everything depends on your industry niche, but the idea is for you to get the final product finished so that you can start with packaging and manufacturing. It is as simple as that.