Molding

Are You Wondering ‘What Is Thermoforming?’

What is thermoforming? Thermoforming is a process which begins with an extruded sheet of plastic. Next we heat it, and finally, shape it with various forces. The molds form only one side of the sheet (controlled surface). After it is molded, it is still in the sheet of plastic (flashing), and needs to go through a trim operation.


THREE MAIN MOLDING PROCESSES

All these processes utilize some form of pressure, each one progressing to a greater degree

parameters

PRESSURE FORMING

VACUUM FORMING

DRAPE FORMING

pressure applied UP TO 5 ATMOSPHERES ONE ATMOSPHERE GRAVITY
TOOLING/COST • Aluminum With a Pressure Vessel (lid) On The Other Side Of The Sheet
• Medium – High Cost
• Composite or Aluminum
• Low-Medium Cost
• Composite
• Lowest Cost
DERIVED BENEFITS • High Definition
• Crisp Detail
• Undercuts
• Tight Tolerances
• Allows Insert Molding
• Limited Detail • Limited To Simple 3D Shapes
• No Detail
TYPICAL APPLICATIONS • Medical/Instrument Covers
• Bezels
• Transportation
• Pump Housings
• Agricultural Covers
• Greenhouse Containers
• Canopies
• Skylights
• Elevator Enclosures
EXAMPLES what is thermoforming vacuum formed plastics forming-drape
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SPECIAL CASE

TWIN-SHEET THERMOFORMING

TOOLING/COST • High, As There Are Two Molds
DERIVED BENEFITS • Very Structurally Strong Parts
• Light Weight
TYPICAL APPLICATIONS • Pallets
• Doors
• Hospital Bed Headboards and Footboards

At ATI we employ a full range of cut-sheet forming equipment. We use everything from single-station shuttle machines up to high-speed, rotary forming machines.  Furthermore, we have a build envelope  of up to 6’x11′.  Most noteworthy, all of our equipment has pressure-forming capability, and most have twin sheet forming capability.  These capabilities are especially relevant with regards to the flexibility we achieve in scheduling.  Additionally, two of our machines have “single-oven” twin sheet thermoforming capability.  The result is our unique ability to form thinner gauges simultaneously.

OTHER IMPORTANT FEATURES THAT CONTRIBUTE TO PROCESS CONTROL INCLUDE:

  • Infrared and “sag eye” control to ensure consistent heat distribution across complex geometries
  • Each part is individually programmed to optimize repeatable quality
  • Heating elements are ceramic for long and predictable life
  • Machines are PLC controlled for repeatable operation flexibility of molding techniques
  • Raw materials are stored in a temperature and humidity controlled environment to minimize process variables

RESINS WE ARE EXPERIENCED WITH

We are not afraid to try any resin, and have the experience and equipment to do that

Listed below are the main resin groups with which we have worked, and are familiar.  However, keep in mind that there are many variations within these resin families. These variations include such things as UV stability, high heat resistance, flame and smoke inhibitors. Additionally, we have availability of an infinite range of colors and textures.

  • High Impact Styrene
  • ABS
  • High Molecular and High Density Polyethylene
  • Acrylic
  • PETG
  • Fire Retardant ABS Family (ABS PVC Alloys)
  • Acrylic PVC – Kydex
  • Polycarbonate (Lexan)
  • Polyphenolsulfone (Radel)
  • Polyurethane
  • Anti-static PETG
  • Thermoplastic Olefins (TPO)
  • Thermoplastic Urethanes (TPU)
  • PPSUs (Radel)
  • PEI (Ultem)
  • PVC
  • Polypropylene

Furthermore, we can obtain fire retardant, low smoke and food grade variants of many of the above materials.  Let us help you select the appropriate material for your project!

FORMING EQUIPMENT LIST

  • 6 x 11 Maac 3 station rotary twin-sheet/pressure thermoformer
  • 5 x 9 Maac 4 station rotary twin-sheet/pressure thermoformer
  • 5 x 7 Maac 3 station rotary twin-sheet/pressure thermoformer
  • 4 x 6 Maac 3 station pressure former
  • 4 x 6 Maac shuttle twin sheet/pressure-former
  • 3 x 5 AAA shuttle Pressure former
  • 4 x 6 EMC double ended shuttle vacuum former