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Can Foam Be Thermoformed? Yep.

A variety of plastic materials can be used in thermoforming, including foams such as those made from polystyrene, polyethylene and polyurethane. In fact, since it’s durable, absorbs sound and impact well, and is relatively inexpensive, foam is a popular material choice.

Thermoformers can form both open and closed cell foam:

  • Open Cell: This foam, which consists of cells that are joined together, is a softer and more flexible selection.
  • Closed Cell: This firmer type of foam has cells that are separate from each other and don’t compress. It’s an ideal option if adhesives or coatings will be used.

The type of foam used depends on a client’s needs, but both are commonly utilized for their advantages in a variety of industries, such as packaging, marine, electronics, automotive, aerospace, retail, and food.

Please contact us today at 714-894-5566 or info@InterTradeIndustries.com to learn more about our manufacturing solutions and how they can meet your needs. 

Why Choose Thermoforming?

For OEMs looking for solutions to their part needs, thermoforming offers a number of benefits over other processes. With the right thermoforming partner, you’ll realize:

  • Design Flexibility: A wide variety of materials, available in a range of colors and textures, allows you to obtain the look you want for your final part, even without paint.
  • Durability: Plastics made by thermoforming hold up better over time than other materials due to greater impact resistance.
  • Lower-cost Tooling: Thermoforming tooling is much more cost-effective than injection molding or blow molding.
  • Fast Time to Market: With thermoforming, you’ll see shorter production lead times and you can make changes to new products quickly.
  • Precision: From tight tolerances to complex shapes, thermoforming can meet your exact specifications, consistently.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Most materials from the process can be reused to create new plastic sheets, reducing the amount of waste sent to the landfill.

Starting with just a CAD file, your vendor will work with you throughout the thermoforming process to deliver the parts—and advantages—necessary to meet your requirements.

Please contact us today at 714-894-5566 or info@InterTradeIndustries.com to learn more about our manufacturing solutions and how they can meet your needs. 

Hot and Cold: The Role of Heat Transfer in Thermoforming

With thermoforming, a plastic sheet is heated to its forming temperature, then shaped by a mold, but just what is “forming temperature?”

Most materials have a range of forming temperatures. For example, polystyrene has a lower forming temperature—the temperature at which it can be bent from its flat shape—of 260 degrees Fahrenheit and an upper forming temperature— the highest temperature at which the plastic remains a sheet—of 360 degrees Fahrenheit. However, practically speaking, there’s a normal forming temperature, which in the case of polystyrene, is 300 degrees Fahrenheit. When striving for the right temperature, remember that it’s the temperature of the sheet that matters, not the heater temperature.

Once the sheet is heated, it’s placed into a mold and formed by cooling the mold surface. Production molds are typically actively cooled by a medium such as water in channels to maintain a uniform temperature across the entire mold. When the plastic sheet contacts the mold, the energy is removed through conduction, the rate of which depends on factors like the thickness of the mold material.

Please contact us today at 714-894-5566 or info@InterTradeIndustries.com to learn more about our manufacturing solutions and how they can meet your needs. 

Does plastic need to be prestretched?

With thermoforming, a plastic sheet is heated until it’s pliable, then stretched into or onto a mold to form a part. But the sheet gets thinner as it stretches deeper onto the mold, which is why prestretching of the hot plastic is sometimes useful.

Prestretching is the process of stretching the plastic once it’s at its forming temperature, but before molding to help ensure even thickness when formed, minimizing undesirable material thinning. There are two primary methods of prestretching:

  • Snap-Back: In this process, a draw box is pushed onto the heated plastic, creating a seal. The hot plastic sheet is then pulled into the box with vacuum until it reaches the correct thickness. At that point, it is quickly “snapped” onto the surface of the mold.
  • Plug-Assist: Plug assist is a process in which the mold is pushed into the heated sheet while a plug pushes the sheet into the mold, creating a seal around the edges that prevents contact between the hot plastic sheet and the cool mold as the sheet is stretched into the cavity.

When precision is required for your part, you may want a thermoformer whose machines have pre-stretching capabilities for optimal uniformity.

Please contact us today at 714-894-5566 or info@InterTradeIndustries.com to learn more about our manufacturing solutions and how they can meet your needs. 

Thin and Thick Gauge Thermoforming: What’s the Difference?

The thermoforming process involves heating a plastic sheet until it’s pliable, then placing it into or onto a mold to be formed with vacuum or pressure. But within this general description of the process, there is one key issue that can impact your part production: gauge.

With thermoforming, you can choose between thin gauge or thick gauge, depending on your application:

  • Thin Gauge: Thin gauge thermoforming involves materials that are less than .060” thick to allow for greater flexibility. It focuses on creating very thin, usually disposable, plastic items such as plastic cups and packaging like clam shell containers.
  • Thick Gauge: For studier, more rigid requirements, thick gauge thermoforming is used. It’s behind all sorts of different plastic components used in a variety of industries, from parts for a major appliance to those used on a jumbo jet.

Both types of thermoforming involve essentially the same steps; the main difference is in the result.

Please contact us today at 714-894-5566 or info@InterTradeIndustries.com to learn more about our manufacturing solutions and how they can meet your needs. 

Info is Instrumental to Successful Parts

One often overlooked but critical step in the production of a successful part is the initial information exchange between thermoformer and customer. During this fact-finding phase, several important aspects of the job should be addressed, including:

  • The expected volume
  • Any stressful environments like chemicals, impact and temperature
  • A part’s relationship with mating parts
  • The material to use for the specific job
  • Design that meets all users of the product

This data is essential in determining the optimal tooling design and material for the best functionality at the lowest cost. When you’re evaluating vendors, be sure to look for one that utilizes a collaborative approach to meet your needs.

Please contact us today at 714-894-5566 or info@InterTradeIndustries.com to learn more about our commitment to proactive communication and manufacturing solutions that meet your needs. 

Trimming to Part Perfection

A lot of time goes into designing your component part and selecting just the right plastic material. But there’s one often-overlooked manufacturing step that’s critical to part perfection: trimming.

This crucial process removes all excess plastic after a part is produced, delivering a number of benefits, including:

  • Part consistency
  • Proper functioning
  • Correct fit and placement
  • A finished look, particularly important for visible parts

As you select a manufacturer, don’t forget to consider this crucial part of the process. Be sure to look for a vendor that offers the latest machining for optimal consistency and accuracy for a perfect part—every time.

Please contact us today at 714-894-5566 or info@InterTradeIndustries.com to learn more about our complete solutions and how they can meet your needs. 

Why You May Want to Consider Temporary Tooling

The right tool is crucial to optimal part production, but sometimes it’s wise to consider a temporary tool instead of going directly to production tooling, especially in situations like early market evaluations.

Temporary tools for prototyping offer a number of benefits:

  • They’re made from low-cost materials like wood or epoxy
  • The tools can be made quickly
  • After the customer reviews the prototypes for form, fit and function, the tool can be changed effectively to address any design issues

While a temporary tool has a limited life, once it’s final, it can be used to make molds for final part production.

Please contact us today at 714-894-5566 or info@InterTradeIndustries.com to learn more about our manufacturing solutions and how they can meet your needs. 

Stronger Plastic with Ultrasonics

When your plastic parts have to be joined, ultrasonic welding is an effective choice to create a secure bond. Ultrasonic welding utilizes the power of high-frequency ultrasonic acoustic vibration to create enough pressure between two pieces to weld them together.

With ultrasonic welding, you can achieve the plastic piece you want with the added benefit of:

  • A reliable, tight connection that’s visually appealing
  • Consistent quality because of the precise process
  • Fast processing times due to automation and zero drying time
  • Lower production costs since additional components like adhesives or fasteners aren’t needed

Ultrasonic welding is commonly used to join smaller thermoplastic parts for a variety of industries, including automotive, medical, food and packaging.

Please contact us today at 714-894-5566 or info@InterTradeIndustries.com to learn more about our manufacturing solutions and how they can meet your needs. 

How to Turn Ideas into Reality

All great products start with an idea. But not every idea becomes a great product. So, what’s the key to turning a concept into reality? Implementation.

Successful inventions require that a product can be made. But the good news is that you don’t actually have to build your product. That’s where a third party comes in.

Many companies help other businesses with a wide range of manufacturing steps, depending on need, including:

  • Part production
  • Assembly
  • Packaging
  • Warehousing and Logistics

If you want to outsource some or all of your production to take your idea to market quickly and efficiently, look for a partner who believes in your idea, shares your vision, and consistently creates high-quality products.

Please contact us today at 714-894-5566 or info@InterTradeIndustries.com to learn more about our contract manufacturing capabilities and how they can meet your specific project needs. 

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