Cost-Effective Pressure Thermoforming Technology
Pressure thermoforming is the best option when aesthetics are important. Pressure-formed plastic rivals the cosmetic appearance of injection molding. And because its tooling and production are simpler and faster than injection molding, pressure forming creates plastic products at a fraction of the cost.
How Pressure Forming Plastic Works
To pressure form a plastic product:
- A sheet of thermoplastic material is heated in an oven.
- The heated sheet is set on a mold.
- A vacuum pulls air out of the mold, pulling the sheet against the mold. At the same time, air presses on the back of the sheet, pushing it tightly into the mold. These twin forces give pressure-formed products crisper details and sharper features.
- After the formed plastic cools and hardens, it’s removed from the mold and trimmed.
Advantages of pressure thermoforming
Pressure forming can produce plastic parts that look injection molded, especially when you have more complex designs that include:
- Detailed textures
- Multiple textures
- Sharp, crisp formed-in features
- Edges that turn under or inward
- Very tight tolerances
A wide range of resins and finishes
There’s no limit to the combination of base materials, colors, exterior details and finishes that can be incorporated into a pressure-formed part. Pressure-formed plastic can be painted, screen-printed, hot stamped or given other finishes. Additionally, forming with a colored resin can prevent the need for painting.
When to use pressure forming
Parts, panels, enclosures and other components that need precise details, sharp and attractive surfaces are best suited for pressure forming. Applications include:
- Bezels and fronts of displays that require a logo, model designation, surface texture and styling features
- Instrument panels that require precise openings for gauges and controls
- Exteriors of office and medical equipment, electronic devices, business machines and other consumer or commercial products
- Doors, hatches or covers that need consistent indentations and cutouts for hinges, latches, handles and other hardware