Friday, June 20, 2008

Engineering Essentials - Segment Two (Thermoforming)

In my last post I mentioned the in our visit to Ray Products, we had the opportunity to see both their vacuum and pressure forming processes. For "Engineering Essentials" second installment, I thought it would be fitting to pass on the knowledge we gained there. What follows is a breakdown of both of the processes.

Definitions

Vacuum Forming - the process of heating a 2D piece of plastic and forming the part to the shape of the tool surface using vacuum and atmospheric pressure.

Courtesy: www.build-stuff.com


Pressure Forming
- when air pressure used as a forming aid to increase the detail of a part by transferring the tool detail to the part's mold surface.

Courtesy: www.rayplastics.com


Uses
Vacuum Forming - When you desire a lightweight but strong part. Ideal for covers and enclosures that would normally be made of sheet metal, wood or fiberglass.

Pressure Forming - When detail and appearance are a must. Good alternative to injection molding. Ideal for enclosures, bezels, cosmetic panels etc.

Advantages

Vacuum Forming - Parts can be produced in high volume with highly accurate duplication of original parts. Long tooling life. Single sided tool. No secondary processing such as paint needed since color is in the material.
Pressure Forming - Allows high detail for inclusion of logos, text etc. in the part surface. Multiple colors and textures in the same part. Production of deep draft (storage bins etc.) or zero draft parts.

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