Thermoforming

The process of heating and moulding plastic materials is called thermoforming. It uses sheets of  plastic in various different forms which is extruded in varying levels of thickness, depending on its intended purpose. Thermoforming can use several different types of molds and processes in order to achieve the final product.

History

  • The Romans are thought to be the earliest known civilisation to use a type of thermoforming. They imported tortoise shells from Asia, and used keratin to produce their final product. Keratin is generally extracted from animal hoofs and hair, when heated it can be moulded in to cutlery which was used by the Romans. The earliest industrial use in contemporary times was in the 1800s, when vacuum thermoforming was developed.

Process

  • The sheet of thermoforming material is heated in order to increase the pliability. Different levels of heat are used for materials of a different thickness. Once the correct level of heat has been reached, the material is molded by one of three common methods. In vacuum thermoforming, the sheet of material is laid on a concave mold and pulled inward to adhere to the shape of the mold with vacuum pressure. Tiny holes in the mold provide the suction, without affecting the shape of the finished product. Pressure thermoforming occurs when the sheet is laid on a convex mold shape and pressed down on the mold. Finally, mechanical thermoforming uses a machine to press the sheet into a concave mold with a convex mold, pressing the sheet between the two molds.

Materials

  • Thermoplastic, also known as thermoforming plastic and thermoformable plastic, is the material used for contemporary thermoforming processes. Thermoplastic is a polymer, or a material that contains large molecules in a repeating pattern. This material changes physical properties based on its temperature. With extreme heat, it melts to a liquid form, and with cool temperatures, it becomes extremely hard. Applying a moderate amount of heat causes the thermoplastic to become flexible so it can be molded.

Applications

  • Common products made by thermoforming include plastic food packaging, baths, Lego. Thermoforming is also used to make blister packs, which hold single doses of many medications.

 

Our Machines

Illig RD53

 

 

 

 

 

ILLIG RD 53c – innovative concept for an extended application of pressure forming even for small batches. Development of the automatic pressure forming machine RD 53c is based on consistent optimization of the forming process. Innovative forming programs and an optimized arrangement of all elements involved in the forming process allow production of sophisticated geometries up to 3 bar compressed air. Based on newly developed standard parts we offer inexpensive format sets making pressure forming economical especially for small batches. Short cycle times and a high level of automation are provided with use of hole punch press, steel rule punch press and stacking units. Tried and tested quick change technology for tools ensures high productivity and repeatability of all process parameters. RD 53c is equipped with a max. forming area of 500 x 350 mm.

GN3021

We use GN’s 3021 thermoformer which use contact heat thermoforming capable of cycle times of up to 18 cycles a minute with precision cuts, GN quality and high performance. We have also added a stack attachment which allows for fast stacking and counting of products to speed up the full process of production to distribution of the end products.

Features and Benefits

  • The GN3021 Thermoformer was developed to meet the demand for thermoformed APET products.
  • In-mould cutting ensuring consistent and accurate trim
  • Servo-driven platen for smooth and energy efficient movement
  • Four point toggle systems with oversized roller bearings
  • High speed forming system
  • Multi-zone contact heating system
  • Electric pre-heater
  • Microprocessor-based control systems (PLC)
  • Photo scanning available for preprinted sheet
  • Static eliminator
  • Stacking equipment available

GN Tooling

  • Cost effective tooling is designed, manufactured and production tested at our facility

Ridat

The Ridat machine is perfect for short/small runs, using vacuum only for short low cost runs and with low cost tooling it is ideal for small businesses.