What is Thermoformed Plastic?
Most of people don’t give much notice of the packaging that is used to house the products we used every day, but the truth is this. There is actually a lot of thought, innovation and consideration that goes into creating the plastic packaging that we recycle every day. Thermoforming is one of the processes that used in the production of packaging. Through this process, plastic sheets are heated and then form into the required shapes with the help of various molds. You can choose several required shapes at Allinpackaging.co.uk.
Thermoformed plastic manufacturing is big business in North America, bringing in over 10 billion dollars to the United States. Basically, it is an efficient way to produce products of plastic packaging while keeping a keen eye toward the environment.
Thermoforming isn’t used only for the creation and production of packaging products. In fact, many plastic items that can probably be found in virtually every room in every home in America – including the garage! Disposable cups and cutlery, storage containers, parts of automotive door panels and many other household items are typically made using this method.
The basics of thermoforming
Generally, the process of thermoforming can be dividing into two categories: thin gauge and heavy gauge. Thin gauge thermoforming involves the feeding of a plastic sheet into a set of chains that use pins or spikes. These spikes pierce the sheet and further feed it into an oven, where it is warmed up to a temperature that makes it pliable for formation. From there, the sheet is moved then to a forming station, where a mold is closed around the sheet, forming the shape of the plastic by way of pressurized air. These molds themselves can be made out of a variety of materials, including wood, cast aluminium, composites made from resin. This method is effective in mass producing packaging and it is widely used to create packaging for cosmetics and medical items, as well as things like clamshell containers. The process is largely automated and requires very little physical labour.
The process of heavy-gauge thermoforming is essentially the same as thing-gauge sheet thermoforming, except that the heated plastic sheet is generally draped over a mold. It was during World War II when aircraft windscreens and machine gun turret windows were formed using this method. Today, heavy-gauge thermoformed parts are commonly used in the construction of automobiles, trucks, refrigerators and other large appliances, shower enclosures, and electrical equipment. Whereas thin-gauge products are typically functional on a small scale (as with household items), heavy-gauge thermoformed products are more designed to have a permanent end use. For example, thin-gauge items can be used as storage for food, whereas heavy-gauge products are designed for things that are more like structures.
Another difference between thin- and heavy-gauge thermoformed products is that heavy-gauge parts often require physical hand work after they are formed, not only to trim the plastic into the final shape but also for additional drilling, cutting, and other finishing touches, as dictated by the requirements of the product.