Many clients throughout the Travis Afb 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.
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Polycarbonate, otherwise known as its trademarked name, Lexan, is a group of thermoplastic polymers. They are used very much in the modern chemistry industry because they can be very easy worked and molded into different shapes and they can also be thermoformed. They show great capacities for temperature resistance, impact resistance as well as for optical properties. They are not grouped specifically into one position for their properties but are considered to be somewhere in between the engineering plastics and commodity plastics.
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to polycarbonate if they indeed can be labeled as such. The advantages of this material of course are because of its properties. They are being used more for household products now than before because of the quality of goods that they can produce. Manufacturers are designing items not only for the household but for use in laboratories and in industry because of its resistance to temperatures and its ability to be easy shaped. Another advantage is the fact it can be injected into various objects which allows it to be used for discs, bottles, glasses, lenses, audio player cases, and lab equipment.
The unfortunate side to polycarbonate is that because of its chemical makeup and property, it is recommended only for those products that are used once, not repeatedly. Although it has other properties such as resilience and toughness, repeated use of the one object may be potentially hazardous to the health. This is due to the leaching of Bisphenol A which has been shown over time to cause the enlargement of the reproductive organs in female mice. It is also said to be responsible for neural and behavioral changes when given to younger animals. It is not certain how this relates to human life but because of the uncertainty, there are warnings concerning the repeated use of bottles and other products made with polycarbonate.
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We use many products with little to no regard as to how they came to be. One such product is called polystyrene. This is a type of polymer plastic that is used in manufacturing, construction, and for household items that we use everyday. Polystyrene sheets can be molded to specific shapes and sizes and are used in a variety of ways. It can be made into all different types of colors, but is most commonly found to be white or clear.
In manufacturing and construction, polystyrene sheets are used as a packing material. Think of the box your fragile electronics come in. There is usually that hard foam surrounding your purchase, protecting it from bumps and drops, right? This is an insulator formed from expanded polystyrene sheets. In construction, polystyrene sheets are used as molds for concrete or other building materials. They are also used as a form of insulation.
When thinking of it's household uses, you can bet that polystyrene sheets are used in ways that you would never believe! Those little Styrofoam cups we drink from are made from that product. The yogurt you may have eaten for lunch was put into a cup made from it too! Polystyrene is used to make CD and DVD cases, molded to form the handles for disposable razors, and used in many toys that your children may have. It is also a popular product used in many craft materials.
So, why is this stuff so great? For a lot of reasons!
It is lightweight and very easy to work with.
It can be molded into virtually any shape or size, come in large and small sheets or blocks, and can fit easily into a box.
It is a good insulator, protecting objects from water and water vapor, as well as fungus and mildew.
It protects fragile objects from drops, bumps and scratches that may otherwise cause damage.
Polystyrene sheets are available for purchase in many home improvement stores for personal use. You can cut them to the size you need quite easily, or they may be able to cut them at the store, just ask the salesperson if they offer the service. For large quantities used for more commercial purposes, companies on the Internet will be able to fill your order to your exact specifications.