Thermoforming is a plastic forming method to achieve a desired shape to a plastic product. Aikon® thermoforming techniques include drape forming and hot folding. For the best result, the production method should be selected during the product design stage. Our experts have the latest knowledge on thermoforming, and they are happy to help you to choose the most suitable thermoforming method.
Benefits of thermoforming
Thermoforming includes a number of methods, for the production of plastic sheets. Thermoforming production methods have various benefits. The method enables maintaining high optical quality of the plastic product and it can be used from medium to large part production. In addition, thermoforming has fast tooling, and the tooling costs are low compared to injection moulding.
We can thermoform transparent plastic components in large sizes. Thermoforming high-performance materials can be in the size of 2000 x 3000 mm. It is possible to form both 2D and 3D components.
Drape forming is a thermoforming technique to achieve a desired shape by heating a plastic sheet until it is pliable and then allowing the sheet to bend to a mould. In drape forming a male or female mould can be used. The technique can be used to simplify, two, or three dimensionally formed plastic parts. Benefits of drape forming are low-cost tooling or fixtures, and stress freeness of the formed plastic sheet.
With drape forming, high-performance plastic sheets are placed with a mould in a hot air circulating oven. The temperature is raised to the glass transition temperature where the sheet sags and conforms to the shape of the mould. The weight of a plastic sheet is enough to form the sheet. Then the plastic sheets need to be cooled in fresh air.
Drape forming is a delicate process with the temperature range, and it requires great expertise and high technology in order to ensure high optical quality and stress freeness of the plastic sheet. Our experts have the latest knowledge on drape forming and they ensure the quality of a formable plastic sheet. Drape forming is a suitable forming method for large batches but also to proto series.
Hot bending is a plastic forming process for the production of uniaxially formed parts. In this forming technique, a plastic sheet is heated by using liner IR heaters or heating elements. As soon as the desired temperature is reached, the plastic sheet is removed from the heating element, bent, and placed in the mould and clamped into the position. The desired shape can be fixed until the plastic sheet becomes stiff.
Local heating creates stresses in the finished part. Bent formed parts need to be handled with care when they are exposed to mechanical strenght or chemicals. Hot bending requires high expertise to ensure the quality of the bent plastic sheet.