THE PROCESS
Lower tooling costs.
Not just cheap tooling.
Drive value to your part features, not the tool.
The Heavy Gauge Thermoforming Process:
Heavy Gauge Thermoforming is the heating of extruded thermoplastic sheet, and applying a force (vacuum and/or pressure) to form the sheet into or over a mold. Heavy Gauge Thermoforming can be subcategorized into three specific processes – Vacuum Forming, Pressure Forming, and Twin-Sheet Forming. The starting gauge of plastic sheet is between 0.30" to 0.50".

Thermoplastic sheet can be manufactured to suit a wide variety of "end use" requirements. Properties such as color, rigidity, UV resistance, low temperature impact, heat distortion temperature, etc. can be optimized in a cost effective way to add value to the part. Post molding, the formed parts are required to be trimmed from the sheet in a secondary process using 5 and 6 axis CNC robotic trimming equipment.

Vacuum Forming

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In the Vacuum Forming process, a single sheet of extruded plastic is heated to a softening point at which time vacuum (14.7psig) is applied to pull the sheet over a male tool, or into a female tool. Vacuum Forming is the most basic of the three thermoforming processes. This is generally due to the demand for low cost tooling, design flexibility, and shorter lead times. Since the cosmetic side of the part is on the non-tool surface of the sheet, a wide variety of surface textures or printed features are available.

Advantages of Vacuum Forming:
  • Low cost tooling.
  • Quick turn-around for parts.
  • Easy tool modification, if necessary.
  • Wide variety of materials, colors, and textures are available.

Pressure Forming

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In the Pressure Forming process, a single sheet of thermoplastic is heated to the softening point before pressure of up to 90 psig is applied to "force" the material into a female tool. With pressure and very intricate molds, highly detailed parts can be produced matching those made by injection molding. Compared to injection molding, Pressure Forming tooling cost less and the lead times are shorter. Profile Plastics specializes in providing highly cosmetic, close tolerance, pressure formed parts to wide array of OEM manufacturers.

Advantages of Pressure Forming:
  • Low cost tooling compared to Injection Molding.
  • Quick turn-around of the tooling.
  • Highly cosmetic parts equal to or better looking than Injection molding.
  • Wide variety of thermoplastic materials available to meet most job requirements.
  • Easily decorated to further enhance cosmetics.

Twin Sheet Forming

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Twin-Sheet forming is the simultaneous heating of two thermoplastic sheets and forming them between two Pressure Forming tools. First, vacuum is applied independently to pre-form each sheet. Once formed, the tools are quickly brought together, and compressed air is injected into the space to force the material to fuse together. This results in the manufacturing of plastic parts that are hollow, and resemble rotationally molded or blow molded parts. Only better! Rotationally molded parts tend to be heavier and have thick corners but with thin walls, whereas Twin-Sheet parts have more uniform wall thicknesses, and will be lighter. Similarly, compared to Blow Molded parts, Twin-Sheet forming allows for the utilization of plugs, and/or the insertion of molded-in components into the hollow areas of the parts. This is virtually impossible for Blow Molded parts.

Advantages of Twin-Sheet Forming:
  • All thermoplastics available in extruded sheet form can be Twin-Sheet formed!
  • Parts can be produced from two different color sheets.
  • Two sheets can have different starting gauges.
  • Structural integrity can be designed into the part resulting in lightweight, rigid parts.
  • The weld or parting line can vary in location around the perimeter of the finished part to suit your design.
  • Tooling costs are lower than blow molding.
  • Parts can be produced at a faster rate, higher volumes, and at lower cost than rotational molding.
  • Parts can be foam filled after forming.
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