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.
Plastic is one of the most versatile materials in the market that you can use in a wide variety of applications. The use of plastic ranges from making of children's toys to medical applications. Plastic sheets are one of the most common types of plastics that you will come across. Just like the other plastic materials, they have a wide range of applications. When buying them you need to consider a number of factors such as:
Different sizes of PVC have different uses. When making the purchase you should note that the thicker the plastic, the more expensive it is. The different thicknesses that you have to choose from include:
Light duty: These are 86 micron units that you use in protecting your paintings, furniture, and small home appliances.
Medium duty: They are 125-micron units you use to protect furniture. You can also use the plastic to store and transit furniture. Experts have also shown that they are highly effective in ground warming.
Heavy duty: Heavy duty plastics are 250 microns in size and ideal for weatherproofing, ground warming, wall covers, lawn care, and duty transit.
To get the most from your PVC sheet, you need to get the right thickness. If you will be using the unit outdoors, especially on the ground, you should go for one that is at least medium duty.
In addition to the color being a matter of personal preference, different colors are ideal for different applications. Clear polyethylene sheets are a great choice when you are interested in natural lighting. These sheets have great applications during home repairs and construction. You can also use them in creating walls and roots in greenhouses.
Black sheets are opaque and block most of the light. Just like their clear counterparts, they have wide applications in covering furniture and floor. There are some people that buy them in order to block light from reaching unwanted areas. Black sheets are heavily used in the agricultural setting where they are used to retain ground and keep weeds out.
These are two of the main factors that you should consider when buying PVC sheets. When making the purchase, consider the size of the sheet that you want. This should be informed by the area you want to use them. Also, pay close attention to the quality of the sheets. Just like when buying any other material, go for the highest quality of PVC that you can afford.