Thermoforming plastic sheeting comes in two varieties: thin gauge and thick gauge. Both types are manufactured via the same thermoforming process. That means the plastic is extruded into sheets and then heated and formed. This heating process increases the plastic’s flexibility so it can be fashioned into various shapes to fit the product or part it is intended to cover. Thin gauge thermoforming plastic sheets are those that one finds in packaging, including clamshells, for everything from toys to blister packets for medication. The plastic’s see-through quality is what makes it an attractive protective covering for those businesses in the retail industries.
Thick gauge, or heavy gauge thermoforming plastic sheets on the other hand are called for in applications where excellent impact resistance, high stiffness and durability are required. This sort of sheeting typically encompasses widths from 24″ to 60″ or greater. Because heavy gauge thermoforming plastic sheets usually range from 0.060 to 0.375 inches in thickness, they are rigid and therefore much sturdier than the thin variation.
The manufacturing process consists of high-quality materials that include polycarbonate, a PC-ABS blend, ABS and PVC, which is often UL certified and flame retardant for safety reasons. Despite the great care that goes into making thermoforming plastic sheets, most manufacturers can accommodate low production runs without added expense, so even small businesses can take advantage of the thermoforming technology. That’s because the process employs a lower tooling cost than expensive injection molding.
Thick gauge thermoforming plastic sheets also differs from their thin counterparts in that they typically are part of the product itself rather than being a throw-away covering. Most often the thicker sheeting encloses medical, electronic and industrial products and is not discarded. As a result, a visually pleasing output is necessary. To that end, many thick gauge plastic sheet manufacturers will add color, logos and other branding design details into the thermoforming process. This gives the finished product an elegant finished look that appeals to consumers’ aesthetic senses.
Computers, outdoor equipment, medical devices, exercise equipment and radomes are just some of the products that incorporate thick gauge thermoforming plastic sheeting. Other industries that routinely use thick gauge thermoformed sheets are search and rescue, automotive, communications, construction and the military.
One of the main draws of the technology is that it produces plastics that are not only durable, but also functional and stylish. The sheeting is an ideal alternative to metal coverings because it is lighter weight without compromising impact resistance. It also results in a sleeker-looking end product, without the need for costly finishing techniques, even when dealing with complex shapes. Finally, it can withstand corrosion, so that components that are vital to consumers’ everyday lives stand the test of time without rusting or deteriorating.
The thermoforming process is well suited to produce rigid PVC, which is amenable to encasing both shallow and deep-draw formed parts. It can be transparent like thin gauge thermoforming plastic sheeting, but it strongly resists impact to make for better product protection. The secret behind these qualities is uniform heating during the thermoforming process.
Post time: 04-21-2017