Many clients throughout the Alpine area have heard the term vacuum forming, but they do not know what it really means, and they don’t know what it does or how it can help them in their business. Vacuum forming is a procedure that can shape performance plastic sheet materials into many different forms, and it is one of the best ways to make a host of different plastic products.
How Does it Work?
A type of thermoforming, vacuum forming, is a process by which a plastic sheet or thin sheet of plastic, such as a PVC sheet, is heated up so that it becomes malleable. The heating process includes the use of aluminum plates and infrared heaters. The heat application will come from the top and the bottom so that it is uniform and will provide the best results.
Once the heat finally reaches the proper temperature (which can differ based on the thickness of the sheets in use) the vacuum will mold the sheets to form the product. The vacuum is able to provide an airtight environment, which is going to be better for the overall molding process.
Products from Vacuum Forming
With this type of thermoforming, one could create countless types of products, and you may find that your company could benefit greatly from the process. One of the most common products using vacuum forming today are children’s plastic toys, but that’s just one of the possibilities. Product packaging is another option, and it is one most companies that create, manufacture, package and sell products could use. Most of the plastic items that you see around the home and office have gone through some type of thermoforming, and it’s often the vacuum process.
Alpine Best Plastic Sheet Supplier
Some of our most popular questions are "Is this material UV stable?", or "How long will this last in direct sunlight?", or some similar themed question. These are great questions. Just look at the 'cheap' backyard furniture you bought last season, yep, it is faded and cracking or broken. Why is that?
The quick answer is the material had either no UV (Ultra Violet Light) stabilizer or very little - or it was simply the wrong plastic for the part. Most plastic materials are not UV stable to start with, other than Acrylic which is invisible to UV. All other materials need a little something (an additive) to give it the protection it may need from the sun. Many plastic materials, if given the proper UV resistant additives, can be used in direct sunlight for 10 - 15 years, or more, providing excellent performance in harsh environments.
The first factor in picking such a material is the intended use. Not all materials are good choices for all applications. While some materials will perform exceptionally well, others plastic materials under the same conditions will fail. Many plastic materials are not well suited to: high temperatures, chemical exposure, UV light, high impact, or electrical applications. Please contact us for details on a material that may meet your needs.
HDPE sheet is one of the best materials for long term outdoor use, if given the proper additives (without UV inhibitors it will fade and crack quickly). Next time you drive by a children's playground in your local city, look at the brightly colored panels used to make the play equipment. This is a HDPE sheet with heavy UV additives, and this makes an excellent application. Available in a rainbow of colors and able to be fabricated easily, this material is excellent for many outdoor applications.
If your application is more mechanical, other materials that might be used would be: Polycarbonate, UHMW, ABS (especially with Korad - Acrylic cover), Acetal, Noryl and many more.
Our standard Makrolon Polycarbonate is a UV stable material in sheet, and is frequently used in replacement glazing applications. The remaining materials on the list are available in Black (a carbon black pigment) which extends outdoor usage. While still not recommended for direct sunlight, they can be used with a good possibility of success - depending on design. Plastics can become brittle or lose properties over time if material does not have UV stabilization, with the proper material and the proper additives, you can get years of trouble free service.
Additionally, many materials will work well if they are painted to cover the plastic surface. Many spray paints, especially Acrylic paints, last many years in the sun. Please check with us, as some material do not accept paints or coatings.
Take some time to review your requirements, and the properties of the plastic you intend to use. The right material will provide the best performance. Contact any of our Plasticologists for assistance, call 866-832-9315 or email us. You can always do research on plastic materials at Industrial Plastic Supply.
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The World Think Tank is solicitating ideas on preventing evaporation and needs you intellectual input. We need High Tech Solution to a Low Tech Problem.
We all know of the serious drought issues in much of our country. We are also half way through the harshest hot weather of summer for many states. New Mexico has problems that are very severe and are in need of greater technology to keep the water supply intact. The Governor's Office has asked for new ideas and concepts.
There is some new technology in Solar Energy which is of value. It is called Copper Indium Diselenide? You say what, come again? Super duper thin solar cells can be made with a thin sheet about 2-3 microns coated with Copper Indium Diselenide. What is that? Exactly what we thought but it is a thin material similar to glass. It reaches conversion percentages as much as 18%. Now we have terrible evaporation problems with water in NM out of rivers and Lales. We can cover those with a thin sheet and on one side hook it to a sheet of this on top. You prevent evaporation and make electricity.
Now this may sound like a really hard thing to do, but if you study Berry Farming, such as Strawberries you see a giant sheet rolling mechanism which can dispense the sheets of plastic with the Solar coated Copper Indium Diselenide. Strawberry Farming is a multi million dollar business and the R and D that they have done is of benefit to all mankind.
Since 95 Strawberries have had some good years thanks to these innovations. It is good to know that because of market hardships strawberry farmers have gotten even more progressive and their hardships can now be our gains. Now then here are some of the plastic sheeting used. We propose we use non-clear plastic sheeting so that algae will not grow underneath the sheets and as long as the water flows it should be fine. There are many a US Company making this plastic sheeting. And by using a non-clear sheeting across the river flows in New Mexico where water is a huge issue we can kept the water from getting too hot and killing fish when it gets too low meaning we can use the water down to a lower level and protect the water from evaporating.
These plastic sheetings have been used in art with one artist using it for five miles and other large projects have used the plastic sheeting. Farmers of strawberries use these for many reasons, birds will not eat seeds, less pesticides can be used when crops are smaller and growing, which is an issue in any soft skin fruit, keeps moisture in the ground and uses the increase in UV light, you can read about it here;
There are many ways to use such sheeting to protect our water levels during the summer months and drought years. We need your help to solve these problems. The World Think Tank needs you.