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The equipment or tooling used for a specific molding technique is called a plastic mold. Plastic molds. A plastic mold is a hollow cavity into which pliable plastic is poured, cooled, and then excreted out. Thus, in this way, the plastic takes the shape of the mold cavity. Plastic molds are helpful in obtaining complex shapes of various sizes, shapes, and dimensions.

In this unique piece of writing, we have explained everything related to vacuum plastic mold. Without any further delay, let’s begin with our article:

How Vacuum Plastic Molding Works?

Vacuum plastic molding is a manufacturing process that works in the following steps:

1.Preparation of mold
2.Heating the plastic sheet
3.Applying vacuum
4.Cooling
5.Trimming and Finishing

Preparation of Mold:

As the name suggests, before beginning the vacuum plastic molding, it is important to design a mold. The materials that are used in the preparation of mold can vary from metals to composite material. The mold should be shaped according to the desired final product.

Heating the Plastic Sheet:

A sheet of thermoplastic material (in the form of a flat sheet), is clamped over the mold. The clamp frame should be highly forceful to ensure the plastic sheet is strongly held during the process of mold forming. Acrylic, PVC, polycarbonate, and ABS, are among the materials that can be used for the process.

 The sheet is heated at an appropriate temperature to avoid complete melting of it. In short, heat the plastic sheet until it becomes pliable.

Heaters with infra-red elements mounted within an aluminum reflector plate are used for heating the plastic sheets. If you want to achieve the best results, then it is important to heat the sheet uniformly over its complete surface area throughout its layers. You can achieve this by having numerous zone points that are restrained by energy regulators. Quartz heaters and Pyrometers are often employed for heating the plastic mold.

Applying vacuum:

After the plastic sheet becomes pliable and is covered on the mold, a vacuum is applied. A dry vane vacuum pump is helpful in drawing the trapped air between the mold and the sheet. It is important to note that the vacuum pump must be competent enough to keep a differential pressure of approx. 27” mercury.

However, for larger equipment, a vacuum pump can be connected to a vacuum reservoir for efficient functioning.

Cooling:

Once the above plastic sheet becomes pliable and the vacuum is applied, here comes the next step which is cooling. The cooling should be done rapidly for accurate results. It is important to note that the plastic should be separated from the mold once it is completely cooled. Immediately separating the plastic from the mold can result in the deformation of the final product.

The cooling process can be enhanced by using a fine mist of chilled water. Fans help direct the water droplets towards the plastic sheet. Using fans in the cooling process can speed up the process by 30%. Temperature-regulating control units help monitor temperature during the cooling of crystallizing polymers.  

Trimming and Finishing:

After cooling plastic sheets, comes the final process of trimming and finishing. As the name suggests, the plastic sheet after removal from the mold can be trimmed for precise appearance and dimensions. Any excess material associated with the final product can be trimmed off.

Moreover, additional finishing processes including drilling or adding surface textures may be performed depending on the requirements of the final product.

Types of Vacuum Plastic Molding:

There are several types of vacuum plastic molding. Each type offers a unique set of pros and applications. Read on to know what these are:

1. Thick-gauge vacuum Forming (involves thicker plastic sheets, usually over 3mm in thickness)

2. Thin-Gauge Vacuum Forming (involves thin plastic sheets, usually less than 3mm in thickness)

3. Twin-Sheet Forming (Two sheets are formed at a time)

4. Pressure Forming (In addition to vacuum, pressure is applied to the backside of the plastic sheet)

5. Vacuum Snapback Forming (Involves stretching the plastic sheet over the mold, followed by immediate release of vacuum)

Materials Used in Vacuum Plastic Molding:

Vacuum plastic molding can be performed with various thermoplastic materials. Each material offers unique properties and suitability for different applications. Some common material used in vacuum plastic molding involves the following:

1. Acrylic (PMMA):

Known for its clarity, transparency, and excellent optical properties, Acrylic is a widely used material in vacuum plastic molding. It’s often used for manufacturing signage, displays, lighting fixtures, and decorative items.

2. Polycarbonate :

PC or Polycarbonate is a highly durable and impact-resistant material. It offers good heat resistance and transparency properties. It’s commonly used for manufacturing automotive parts, safety helmets, machine guards, and electronic components.

3. ABS:

ABS stands for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. Known for its toughness, ease of processing, and impact resistance, ABS is considered a highly versatile material. It’s used for a wide range of applications, including automotive interior trim, bathroom molds, toys, and protective equipment.

4. Polyethylene:

Polyethylene aka PE, is a lightweight and flexible material with excellent chemical resistance. It’s commonly used for producing packaging trays, spa molds, swimming pool molds, jacuzzi molds, etc. containers, and agricultural products.

5. Polypropylene :

PP or Polypropylene offers a good balance of properties, including stiffness, chemical resistance, and high-temperature resistance. It’s used for applications such as automotive components, medical devices, and food packaging.

6. PVC:

PVC aka, Polyvinyl Chloride is a versatile thermoplastic known for its excellent chemical resistance and flame-retardant properties. It’s used for manufacturing products such as blister packs, signage, pipes, and fittings.

7. Polyethylene Terephthalate:

Polyethylene Terephthalate is a clear, strong, and lightweight material commonly used for packaging bottles, trays, and containers for food and beverages.

8. High Impact Polystyrene:

HIPS aka, High Impact Polystyrene is a cost-effective material known for its high impact strength and ease of processing. It’s often used for producing packaging materials, disposable cups, and consumer goods.

These are just a few examples of the many thermoplastic materials that can be used in vacuum plastic molding. The choice of material depends on factors such as the desired properties of the final product, cost considerations, and specific application requirements.

Advantages of Vacuum Plastic Molding:

Vacuum plastic molding offers numerous benefits. Some advantages are listed hereunder:

1. Low Cost:

Surprisingly, one of the notable advantages of vacuum plastic molding is that it is a low-cost process. As compared to other types of fabrication, you can enjoy highly precise output by budget-friendly investment. The molding process during the vacuum plastic molding is also budget-friendly.

2. Recycling:

During the process, there is excess material along with the final product that needs to be trimmed. Such extra material can be recycled in vacuum plastic molding. You can recycle the extra portion into sheets and use them for future projects.

3. Prototyping:

One of the best features of vacuum plastic molding is fast prototyping. You can get rapid prototyping at a low cost via vacuum plastic molding. You can get molds quickly and the remaining process itself is quick.

4. Versatile:

In our daily life, we see molds of various sizes and shapes. This high degree of customization can only be achieved through the vacuum plastic molding process. No matter which type of shape you have in your mind, all you have to do is present your idea and the machine will take care of the rest.

5. Highly consistent:

You can get highly precise shapes via the vacuum plastic mold technique. Using the same mold across the batches, you can get highly consistent shapes and sizes.

6. Ability to form large parts:

Due to its ability to form large parts, it is widely used in the manufacturing of molds used in bathrooms. Whether you need a swimming pool mold, jacuzzi mold, outdoor bath mold, or steam room mold, Vacuum plastic mold has got you.

7. Low setup costs:

If you are an investor and looking for a budget-friendly investment with high-profit rates, then doubtlessly investing in Vacuum plastic mold is the best option. It requires minimal capital investments compared to other molding techniques.

Applications of Vacuum Plastic Molding:

Vacuum plastic molding or simply vacuum forming finds applications across various fields. Read on to know what these are:

1. Manufacturing of agricultural components

2. Manufacturing of automotive parts

3. Used in packaging

4. Many household products are manufactured by vacuum-forming

5. Used in a variety of bathroom equipment including jacuzzis, spa tubs, steam baths, swimming pool molds, etc.

6. Due to elegant fabrication, it is employed in marketing and retail displays

Vacuum Formed Products Designed and Manufactured by TENGLI:

TENGLI is a professional company that has 18+ years of OEM (OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer) experience in customized fabrication services. As proficient in all the production processes of plastic molding and FRP products and strive to improve every aspect of manufacturing mold, we are ready to satisfy the needs of clients. We specialize in the customization of all kinds of vacuum plastic molds but the following are our signature molds:

1.Swimming pool molds
2.Outdoor bath molds
3.Jacuzzi molds
4.Ordinary bathtub molds
5.Shower room bottom molds
6.Artificial stone product molds, etc.

If you want to know more about our services, please feel free to reach through our official website.

The Bottom Line:

In short, vacuum plastic mold is highly versatile and cost-effective. If you are looking for molds with a greater degree of precision then you should choose vacuum plastic mold over other molding techniques. Besides offering precision and quality, vacuum plastic mold offers peace of mind. So what are you waiting for? Contact us today to get a quote on your required product. We are here to entertain customers from the entire world!