Thermoforming is a form of moulding that can produce a large range of usable products whilst also being one of the more affordable processes of plastic moulding when it comes to tooling costs and low to medium quantity production runs.
The process of thermoforming involves taking a sheet of plastic that can range in colour, material type, UV stability, and textures. The sheet is placed into a thermoforming machine and is clamped around the perimeter. The sheet is then heated to a pliable form. The sheet is then removed from the heater and placed over the male or female tool or pattern. A pressurised vacuum will then ensure that the sheet remains in place until the cooling process has been completed. Cooling can be provided through the traditional fan or cool water misting or water-cooled tools.
Once the moulding is complete we then offer in-house 3 or 5-axis CNC trimming or laser cutting as well as robotic automated welding if the product requires additional rigidity or multiple components to be attached together.
There are many uses for thermoformed products ranging from packaging, retail and point of sale, signage, automotive, and RV/caravan industries to list a few.
There are many advantages that are associated with thermoforming. Essentially the entire process is extremely quick. Thermoforming is extremely adaptable to many different requirements and industries. Combining this with the fact that the entire manufacturing process is all in-house leads to very quick turnaround times which can be adapted for last-minute just-in-time shipments or job prototyping.
Thermoforming material sizing can also be optimized through our local and international sheet suppliers to reduce wastage which translates to overall unit price savings. There is such a huge range of colours and material finishes currently available in today’s market not to mention that we offer an in-house painting department which allows products to be completely customised. We also work closely with specific digital printers to produce life-like images which can be pre-distortion printed onto the sheet and then formed into the final product creating truly unique products.
Like all processes thermoforming does have some limitations to the type of shapes that can be created. Another disadvantage is that the process does then require trimming after moulding which adds an additional process to the parts. Despite the disadvantages, thermoforming technology has increased significantly in the years with the implementation of laser and 3 and 5-axis CNC machinery, robots, and automation meaning that some of these disadvantages are now less of an issue. Trimmed material that would otherwise have been discarded is now recycled and brought back to life once again in the form of re-grain material. This means that the cost of offcut is reduced thanks to the fact that the material will not be wasted entirely.
If you would like to find out more please contact our friendly team of manufacturing and design staff who will be happy to help design a solution for your product.