How Its Made - Thermoforming

By: John Morris

Are you aware that some of the things we use in our everyday lives are plastics? When we talk about convenience, durability, efficiency, stability, usefulness and practicality in the things we use nowadays, chances are, those things are made out of plastic.

One example of this is Zip-lock plastic bags for storing foods. Another one is the Coleman or Rubbermaid coolers we use to keep preserve foods while camping outside or going out of town and water jugs to keep our beverages cool and a handy gadget outdoors. And a lot more of plastics used for everyone's convenience. But these are not just ordinary plastics! Plastic is...

- Durable
- Reliable
- Tough
- Helpful
- Easy to use
- Low in cost

1. Thermoforming

Thermoforming is one of the procedures being done to manufacture plastic. A plastic sheet or film is used that can be easily soften up when heated and becomes hard again when it cools down. The kind of plastic used in Thermoforming can undergo melting and freezing without changing its chemical state and it can be re-used. The plastic sheet or film is heated between specialized heaters in order to form the product with its usual temperature range. Then it is placed in a temperature regulated metal table or molder until it is cooled down. The plastic formed from the molder will be taken out of the sheet. Used or excess plastic sheets are being recycled in order to form new plastic products out of it.

It is a technological breakthrough for its:

- Reliability
- Convenience
- Easier to produce
- Ability to form small and large objects for that specific product
- Lower costs of production
- Great and unique design
- Firmly and nicely furnished
- Shorter time for production
- Can work on any type of weather conditions, high and low temperatures.

2. History

Thermoforming is one of the oldest plastic manufacturing procedures. In the year 1890, baby rattles and teething rings were formed out of plastics using the thermoforming procedure. In 1930 some developments were made in the plastic materials; but it never grew sucessful until the 1930's in Europe.

3. Process Categories

Thermoforming has two general process categories called the thin gauge and the so called heavy or thick gauge. Thin gauge is used for thin sheets of plastics and can be directly processed with regulated temperature. Unlike the heavy or thick gauge, the plastic used there is thicker than the thin plastic sheets and it still need to cut into pieces before being processed. Instead of using the regulated temperature for thin plastics sheets in order to form a product, the temperature is higher than the regulated temperature in heavy or thick gauge.

Heavy or thick gauge was formed during the World War II on aircraft windscreens and machine gun turret windows in aircrafts. Today, heavy or thick gauge parts are used in permanent structures as additional parts in cars, trucks, refrigerating units, bathroom accessories such as showers, plastic faucets, plastic doors and toilet seats, electronic and electrical equipment.

It is a big benefit for companies who use these kind of procedure for their plastic products it's lower costs, durability, usefulness, and productivity. It also weighs less than other ordinary and special types of plastics. Of course, it's also helpful for the consumers and users of this kind of plastic. Lower material and production costs + mass production of products = BIG MONEY

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