Thermoforming is the process of melting plastic sheets to a noodle-like state where the shape is manipulated, then cooled in a formed shape. A single sheet can be formed into various shapes to produce a single finished product. Skylights are great example of thermoforming.
All plastic material will have a cold bending radius. This is the maximum radius the plastic can bend before it breaks. After that point we need to apply heat plus pressure, vacuum, or draping to thermoform the plastic into a new home position, the shape the piece is in when it’s resting.
When using a vacuum, a male or female mold is covered with a hot noodle-like plastic sheet. Then, a strong vacuum is applied to hug the plastic to the mold-plug until it cools. Pressure forming is good for skylights when an even flowing form is needed. Draping is used when an even, consistent bend radius is needed.
All thermoforming requires some sort of mold. Either the customer can provide the mold or we can fabricate one. We can reuse the same mold over many times thus the more units ordered will lessen the per unit price. Depending on your specific application we will determine the most practical way to thermoform and what kind of mold is necessary.
We can handle full-sized sheets in our 10’ long oven to make large products with a single sheet. For thermoforming needs please visit our showroom and speak with one of our knowledgeable sales representatives.