Thermoforming is a plastic molding method that is used to create a variety of usable products. The manufacturing process involves heating of thin plastic sheets to make them pliable. Once the sheet reaches a malleable temperature, it is materialized over a male or female mold. It is then cooled to a finished shape and the product is trimmed to make it usable. A variety of plastics are used for thermoforming, however, in this blog, we are focusing on six types of plastic that lead the way for thermoforming.
ABS is a common thermoformed plastic that is made of acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene. It can withstand extreme temperatures ranging from -4 to 176 °F. This ensures that the plastic can be molded to any desired shape at high temperatures. ABS is corrosion resistant and impact proof. This makes it an ideal polymer for 3D printing, automobile parts, protective headgear, and kitchen appliances.
HIPS or high impact polystyrene is a versatile plastic that is used to make a variety of consumer products. Its clear composure makes it an ideal choice for protective food packaging. It boasts high impact resistance and has high tensile strength. What makes HIPS a desirable plastic for thermoforming is its ability to be malleable. It can be molded to different shapes multiple times and it can still preserve its properties.
High-density polyethylene or HDPE is a petroleum-based thermoplastic polymer and is known for its excellent strength to density ratio. HDPE is used in numerous applications such as bottle, plastic packaging, 3D printing, and plastic bags. HDPE is UV resistant and chemical resistant. This makes a great choice to create thermoformed plastic products such as shampoo bottles, food trays, containers, and recycle bins.
PVC or polyvinyl chloride is the third most-used plastic for thermoforming. It is created with suspension polymerization and has a tough structure making it an ideal plastic to withstand impacts and extreme temperatures. What’s more, it is an economical plastic which makes it a preferred material of choice for most industries. PVC is commonly thermoformed to create products such as pipes, flooring, electric cables, and faux leather clothing.
PET or polyethylene terephthalate is one of the most common plastics used for thermoforming. It is used to produce bottles and synthetic fibers. During thermoforming, PET is molded into a product shape and later dried to maximize its resistance. Thermoformed products made from PET are resistant to external elements such as weather and corrosion.
Polyethylene terephthalate glycol or PET-G is a type of thermoplastic polyester that is easily formable. It is known for its durability, resistance to chemicals and is ease of manufacture. What’s more, PET-G is a low forming temperature polymer. This allows it to be easily vacuumed and pressure-formed to create end-products of various shapes. It is also ideal for fabrication methods such as routing, bending and cutting.