Teflon is the trade name for PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), a polymer consisting of carbon and fluorine. Teflon was developed back in 1938 by a DuPont researcher named Dr. Roy Plunkett. The development changed the plastic industry forever.
Plunkett and his DuPont team created one of the most slippery substances that exist. PTFE is not only beneficial for its nonstick property; it offers many other great qualities as well. The polymer is resistant to high temperatures, chemical reaction, corrosion, and stress cracking. These traits allow PTFE to be used for many different purposes.
One common household use for Teflon or PTFE is cooking. Many kitchen supply brands market their Teflon pots, pans, and utensils. These products are safe and make cooking a lot easier. The non stick PTFE component guarantees your food will slide right off the pot or pans surface. Cooking sprays and grease are no longer needed when you cook and bake with a Teflon coded product.
Another at home use for PTFE is with beauty products. Nail Polish is commonly infused with Teflon to create a strong, crack free product. Once applied, the Nail polish will stick to your nails longer with chipping. Many hair styling products, like curling irons and flat irons are also made with PTFE. The non stick coating helps the tools glide smoothly through hair, unaffected by the high heat temperatures.
PTFE is also significant in the automotive industry. One frequent use is with windshield wiper blades. Manufacturers coat their wiper blades with Teflon so the well known "squeaky blade situation" does not occur.
A fourth public use of PTFE is as protection for carpets and fabrics. Carpets and fabrics that include Teflon are less susceptible to stains. The PTFE acts as a repellant to liquids so spills can be easily wiped off.
Besides household and personal use, PTFE is widely used in a variety of business industries. The Steel and Chemical Processing Industries are two prime examples. These industries need strong and reliable hoses and tubing to transfer highly caustic and corrosive chemicals. They work with high temperatures to produce their products or services and they have to have a means for withstanding the heat. Teflon is great since it is carries the heat resistant and corrosion or stress free characteristics. PTFE tubing and hoses deteriorates less rapidly than metal piping. Manufacturers are catching on to this cost saving technique.
As you can see, PTFE properties are endless. They assist us with day to day tasks like cooking, cleaning, and driving. They contribute to our beauty prepping. And, PTFE's play a major role in the processes of industries like the Steel and the Chemical Processing Industry. Plunkett and DuPont might not have realized just how far their development would go. They created a product that remains essential to many functions in society today.
In vacuum forming or thermoforming fabrication, the material is just as important as the mold. If a lower-quality plastic sheet is used, the end product could be compromised. The color of the sheet could be uneven and inconsistent. Unpredictable melting could occur, causing irregular gauge thickness. Longer curing and drying could add operation time and cost to the fabrication process. In other words, having the best vacuum formable plastic sheet will always yield the best-finished product.
In short, vacuum forming is a stripped down, simpler adaptation of thermoforming. With vacuum forming, a heated, pliant plastic sheet is stretched on top or inside of a mold. The formable sheet then conforms to the shape of the mold with the application of a vacuum to ensure the plastic fills the mold, tightly and neatly. Once the sheet is formed, the vacuum is released, along with the now-formed plastic sheet.
Vacuum forming is ideal for prototyping and manufacturing parts with a shorter-run production output due to being an easy and economical operation. It is also an outstanding way to fabricate more shallow molds without the higher operational costs associated with thermoforming. Newer, technological advances have allowed vacuum forming with deeper molds, as long as the formable sheet is of higher quality and is mechanically stretched before application to the mold.
When selecting the material for your project, forming plastic is an ideal option. Vacuum formable plastic sheets, usually made of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) are designed especially for the vacuum forming or thermoforming process. They can withstand heat application without melting or breaking down. They are also highly regarded for their ease of processing and are inexpensive in comparison to other sheets. Be sure to choose a plastic or PVC sheet that meets your specific requirements, such as thickness, color, surface texture, and overall size. Look for a product that offers precise gauge control and consistent color with lot-to-lot traceability. This way, there will be no differences between manufacturing runs.
There are a variety of applications that benefit from both vacuum/thermoforming and formable plastic sheets. The production of kiosks and automated teller machines include external plastic structures that accommodate delicate, internal mechanisms securely and with branded aesthetics. Since the formable sheets are highly customizable, medical device housing and electronic equipment cases can be properly fitted for a precise fit and appropriate protection. On a smaller scale, electrical components are a perfect application because of the inherent flame retardance of the formable plastic sheet material.
If you are considering your options for a small run of manufactured molded parts or experimenting with a prototype, vacuum forming/thermoforming with vacuum formable plastic sheets is an excellent choice. While the manufacturing process itself is straightforward, the selection of an industry-proven formable sheet will provide high-performance durability without cutting into your bottom line. Be sure to choose a high-quality formable plastic sheet that will hold up to the demands of your next project; you will have a consistent, reliable end product every time.