Thermoplastics and the Adaptive Mould affords plenty of opportunities for fast production. Information on the different processes and materials are available on this page and by contacting Adapa directly.
Vacuum forming is done with a sheet of thermoplastic heated to forming temperature, laid onto the Adaptive Mould, and forced against the mould by a vacuum and setting by cooling.This process can be used to form plastic into permanent objects be they single or double-curved panels.
Suitable materials for use in vacuum forming are conventional thermoplastics. Vacuum forming is also appropriate for transparent materials such as acrylic, polycarbonate, polyethylene, etc.
Vacuum forming is often used in low-level technology classes for an easy way to mold. Combined with the Adaptive Mould vacuum forming is powerful process for manufacturing unique elements in a standardized production setup.
The Adaptive Mould can use drape forming when a plastic part requires a more general, or gradual, bend than heat bending processes alone can provide. It works well on both large and small parts.
The best process is to take a thin material an place it onto the mould and apply pressure while it is cold. The mould and material can then be brought up to forming temperature. After it reaches the right temperature, the mould and material is cooled.
Once the temperature of the material reaches room temperature, the material will retain the shape of the mold. If the material is thicker, the material will be pre-heated to forming temperature, then placed onto the Adaptive Mould and held in place. After it cools, it retains the shape of the mold.
Technically, all thermoforming methods utilize some type of pressure to stretch the extruded sheet against the mold surface. But this particular way is specialised.
Pressure forming is used in thin-gauge applications to improve cooling cycle times by rapidly stripping the sheet from the plug and driving it against the cold mold. This improved cooling time is a significant process improvement between thermoforming and vacuum forming.
The extruded sheet of plastic is heated and then stretched over the mold. Vacuum pulls the plastic into the female mold, while a plug is driven into the plastic accompanied by air pressure to force the plastic into each area of the female mold. This gives pressure formed parts a potential for better details than parts utilizing the vacuum forming process.