The thermoforming process is really a very simple one. Thermoforming is the process of heating a material to its forming temperature and applying force to the hot sheet to push it into cavities or over a mold so the material conforms to the shape of the mold. The forces applied are any of three different methods: mechanical assist (plugs), vacuum, and form air.
Material is supplied in rolls or resin pellets. Rolls are either produced in an extrusion facility or purchased. Resin pellets are used for in-line thermoforming and for extruding roll stock. Plastic Ingenuity has its own extrusion capabilities so it has more control of the entire process.
The extruded plastic sheet is fed into the thermoformer and carried into the heating area on chains. The chains advance the sheet through the heating oven, form station, and trim station of the thermoforming machine.
When the material reaches its optimal forming temperature in the oven, it is transported to the forming station where the mold begins to close on the pliable sheet. For most molds, plugs force the material into the mold cavities, vacuum air draws the plastic over the mold and into the cavities, and air pressure is applied to move the material into the custom mold cavities.
Once the sheet has been formed into plastic parts, it advances to the trim station where it is extracted by either a steel rule die or matched metal trim press. The remaining plastic is collected and recycled back into the process to make more plastic parts.