Vacuum, Drape Forming & Line Bending

Vacuum and drape forming are both considered as types of thermoforming; both processes require heating up plastic to a malleable temperature, placing over a mold and then cooled. This allows the plastic to be made into many shapes and works well for creating products with gentle curves. Drape forming is preferred when creating large components and when using thicker materials. The most commonly used materials for drape forming are; Acrylics, ABS, Polystyrene, and Polycarbonate.

Vacuum forming is a very similar process only with an additional step.  This method uses vacuum pressure to force the plastic to conform to the mold.  After the plastic has been heated to a pliable temperature, it is then pressed against a 3D mold by vacuuming the air in between the plastic sheet and the mold.  This method is cost effective, allows for sharper details, undercuts, and tighter tolerances.  This method of forming is commonly used to make P.O.P. Displays, Interior and Exterior components for Automotive, Marine and RVs.

Line bending is another technique that uses heat to help produce a desired shape with the exception that you only heat the parts of the plastic you want to bend.  This produces straight bends very efficiently and there are no set up costs.

Additional tooling costs are low for these types of thermoforming. Since these methods don’t require many specialty tools, this is preferred for smaller production runs.

If you are interested in learning more about thermoforming and how you can use it on your next project, Contact Us.

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