Plastics By Design Ltd

Vacuum forming. Protective Packaging

Phone Number: 01380 827 022

How Does Pressure Forming Work

  • Posted by:
  • Admin
  • Tags:
  • Posted date:
  • 05-05-2022
How Does Pressure Forming Work

 This article asks: how does pressure forming work? If you have a pressure forming project that you are considering, we look at what pressure forming is and how it can benefit your needs.

What Is Pressure Forming?

Pressure forming processes are a form of plastic thermoplastic, creating various detailed, crisp, alternative design features and intricate textures. 

In the same way, it is almost like injection moulding; however, its production and tooling methods are much faster and more straightforward altogether. You can create incredible, useful plastic products at a fraction of the costs, so it's best to select the process method based on your budget and industrial requirements.

How Does Pressure Forming Work?

Pressure forming is relatively similar to conventional vacuum forming processes in the sense that materials are formulated by utilising contoured surfaces. Professional engineers will use vacuum pressure to draw the desired material against the mould skilfully. 

You can modify the forming diagnostic equipment and tooling to apply significant positive air pressure to the surface against specific plastic parts you wish to create. There will be a dramatic increase in the level of pressure applied so that you can curate more accurate details on its surface area before the final assembly. 

Why Use Pressure Forming?

Pressure thermoforming is a manufacturing technique for plastic thermoforming, as a broader term of the process. Professionals will heat 2-dimensional thermoplastic sheets to their highest, optimal pressure-forming temperature. Next, it is placed carefully over a custom tool or mould. 

They will apply a positive pressure box onto the heated sheet and press the material onto the surface of the mould to bear the weight, creating specific 3-dimensional shapes onto the heated plastic. 

Once the moulded parts harden and cool down, it is removed and further processed according to its specification to create finished parts. 

They can produce crisper, more detailed features; however, its process is much more straightforward in comparison to others, creating plastic products for cheaper. 

Advantages Of Pressure Forming

Pressure forming allows common thermoplastic materials to be pushed into a mould surface; in doing so, you can create a high-level surface with plenty of texture, capability and surface detail alongside various other features. 

Professionals can exceed injection moulded parts and capabilities with the level of detail you can attain from such practices. You can use rival injection moulding methods if you wish to obtain smoother surface finishes. 

Pressure thermoforming will allow professionals to produce aspects with various forms of complex mould geometry, such as louvers, tight radii, surface texture, and lots of other branding types. Thermoplastic can be successfully painted, capped with other materials and silk-screened.

There can be integrated patterns and material colours to enhance the production of plastic pressure forming. Such aesthetics and design capabilities can help successfully remove the need for painting in post-production. 

Plastics can usually thermoform aspects up to 84" by 108" square inch; these tend to come at a fraction of the tooling costs, especially those that would generally take the exact cost to produce, for example, injection moulding. 

Plastic thermoformed produce parts tend to be lighter than steel, at least 6 times or so, making it half the weight of other material counterparts, such as aluminium and fibreglass, which is 30-40% lighter. 

One of the most significant advantages of plastic thermoplastic is its incredible versatility concerning the polymer level. Thermoplastic material formulations can meet many of the plastic industry's strictest requirements for durability, FST, impact resistance, strength, and weather resistance. 

These factors are crucial for mass transportation and aviation as they will help protect products, especially industrial equipment, business machines and vital medical devices. 

The low tooling investment is essential for plastic thermoforming, yet it can often be half the cost of what you may pay for injection moulding for a small aspect or at least 1/5 of a more significant part. 

Such jobs are attributed to highly engineered requirements, and there are specific numbers of mould faces that you will require for efficient injection moulding or structural foam moulding. 

Many companies in the field utilise advanced forms of plastic thermoforming and tooling to produce several part projects with a wide array of attachment points and precise tolerances for zero-gap assemblies compared to conventional ones. 

Compared to various other processes of manufacturing in the industry of leading providers, plastic thermoforming has a relatively lower total part cost, with volumes and parts of approximately 250-5000 each year. 

Rapid product development is the act of streamlined processing and fast tooling construction. Often RPD produces product samples within approximately 8-10 weeks to be efficiently tested. 

Typical applications of pressure forming 

Pressure thermoforming is cost-effective and incredibly versatile, making it suitable for various industrial applications. Pressure thermoformed parts are typically utilised for replacements of any components made of fabricated sheet metal.

They provide us with various unique benefits, especially where manufacturing processes like Fiber-Reinforced Plastics (FRP) and Resin Transfer Moulded (RTM) are concerned. 

No matter if your project is a brand-new design or a conversion of one process to another, we highly recommend investing in pressure-forming for all productive plastics components as it is an ideal solution for a range of vast industries and applications. 

For example, it is perfect for the following:

  • Enclosures and Fascias for ATMs, POS applications and Kiosks
  • Interior parts of railcars, for example, panelling, tray tables, trimming, window masks, luggage racks, seating and many more
  • Medical device equipment storage and enclosures
  • Panelling and interior/exterior covers for any construction or industrial handling vehicles
  • Components suitable for foodservice
  • Material handling components and various handling trays
  • Bedliners fit for pick-up trucks
  • Wastewater management components
  • Components for portable toilets
  • Enclosures for large equipment
  • Agricultural-related vehicles or equipment

Vacuum Forming vs Pressure Forming

Compared to straight vacuum forming, which is the most popular two processes and tends to work best on simplistic products that don't need any specific detail, pressure forming is often the best choice for thermoforming. 

Pressure forming fits best when the aesthetics of a product are one of the essential factors to consider during its transportation.

Pressure forming is an incredibly cost-efficient substitute that allows you to produce plastic compartments with sharper features and more crisp details than other vacuum formed methods.

Pressure forming plastic is fantastic and can be utilised to conceal a whole host of products, including:

  • Panels, final parts, and enclosures require precise surface cosmetics and sharp corners to conceal their shape
  • Fronts and bezels that need immense durability
  • Exterior panels that are appealing but require openings suitable for controls and gauges
  • Three-dimensional enclosures and housings are commonly used in medical equipment for offices, commercial, and electrical devices
  • Covers, hatches, doors and movable panels that are user-facing and require plenty of durabilities, attractive exterior finish and sharp details.

The pressure forming process is relatively unique compared to traditional vacuum forming and offers many advantages that it simply cannot. 

Customers should involve themselves in the design and engineering aspects, especially if they require pressure-formed parts and be part of the tooling production process that it requires. Understanding the design limitations can help each end-user, and the thermoformer achieve product packaging satisfaction. 

Are you looking for Pressure Forming or Vacuum Forming services in the UK? Follow the link below to find out more about our bespoke services.