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Plastics Processing: Thermoforming

In thermoforming, sheets of plastic material are heated to between 260 and 350ºF and then positioned over an open mold. The sheet may be drawn down into the mold where it conforms to the shape of the cavity (a process called vacuum forming), pushed into the mold cavity by compressed air or a mechanical assist, or in some cases may use a combination of these methods.

Common applications: plastic cups, children's sandboxes or wading pools, refrigerator door shelving

Twin sheet thermoforming is becoming an alternative to multi-layer blow molding. Two sheets are heated simultaneously, and both a top and bottom mold are used. One sheet is applied to the bottom by vacuum. If desired, inserts can be placed into this half. The second sheet is indexed into position on the top mold, the bottom mold comes into contact with the top, and residual heat bonds the two plastic sections together.