The Process Of Making Thermoformed Plastic Packaging

By Jerri Perry

The primary duty of custom thermoforming industries is to produce quality thermoformed plastic items. Examples of such products include; custom plastic radomes, thermoformed medical devices and thermoformed plastic enclosures. Generally, thermoforming industries deal with various thermoforming needs of their clients. Thermoformed plastic packaging products are also among these and can as well be made according to the specifications of a client.

Normally, the companies use in-door tools and machinery to meet the different requirements of thermoforming business. This may include temperature-controlled aluminum molds, fixtures and trim jigs that are custom designed to handle different projects. Virtually, all custom thermoforming companies use the same process of manufacturing thermoformed products.

The initial step of thermoforming involves assembling flat plastic sheets. The companies usually use different sets of machinery to thermoform various types sheets. Mounted clamps of the sheets are then placed on an oven for heating. This takes a specified amount of time before the sheet is removed and then formed. The hot sheet is then placed over or under the tool used for thermoforming as the tool is moved closer to the sheet.

In the next step, a seal is made around the sheet and a combination of vacuum and pressure is used to force the sheet to form the shape of the mold. After the sheet has been molded, it is held in place until the cooling process is over. The next step involves removing the sheet from the clamping and preparing it for trimming. The trimming can be done in a number of ways such as drilling, saw cutting, hand routing, and 3 or 5-axis machinery.

After the completion of the thermoforming process, the finished part of the sheet is cleaned and packed in polybags for distribution. Most of these companies also engage in other thermoforming services. Some of these are; heavy gauge thermoforming, thermoforming mold making, twin sheet thermoforming, pressure forming and vacuum forming. The vacuum forming process is best suited for manufacture of medical products.

Pressure forming is still regarded as another version of vacuum forming. It uses the traditional techniques of molding to close the appearance gaps. Whilst it is mainly used the thin-gage plastic packaging industries, pressure forming is mainly viewed as an ancient mode of thermoforming. In a twin sheet thermoforming, however, two sheets are formed at the same time through heating. They are usually preformed into different molds before being quickly pressed together.

A pin is also pushed through one of the sheets and air is pushed through them for forming. This is carried out with the aid of heat to enable the sheets form a single unit. Usually, products made through this forming process resemble those made through blow molding or rotational molding.

The heavy gauge thermoforming is used to manufacture industrial, electronics and medical devices. It is majorly used for the manufacturing of sturdy rigid enclosures for various equipments like computers, radomes, electronic enclosures, medical devices, outdoor equipment, and exercise equipment. Heavy gauge thermoforming uses thick plastic sheets to manufacture products of different thickness. For thermoformed plastic packaging, there are a number of similar processes involved, but the most important thing is to go for those companies that can be able to customize products according to the needs of their clients.

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