The technological method of vacuum forming is one of the most demanded in the field of creating products from polymers. It is a modern promising trend in the production of small, medium, and large-sized plastic products. With a manual vacuum forming machine, you will have an affordable opportunity to create molds from all kinds of polymeric materials for all major industrial sectors.
Vacuum forming equipment is simple and concise in the design. It is developed and manufactured by specialized companies (for example, MACHINETIC) and small private enterprises.
What Is a Vacuum Forming Machine?
A vacuum forming machine is a well-functioning mechanism for molding plastic from polymer materials. It consists of a forming table, a metal frame for fixing the sheets, heating lamps, an air evacuation module, and a cooling device. Thanks to the systematization of the production process, the work on heating the plastic, “wrapping” the master model with it, and removing the finished form from the surface of the work piece are carried out accurately and efficiently.
Vacuum forming stations have two conventional options by type of work:
- Manual (semi-automatic)
The former is fully automated, while the latter includes the processes of extracting finished products and loading material in manual mode.
A vacuum forming machine with manual modification of equipment is compact in size and characterized by ease of use. Even a beginner can handle it. The machine is perfect for big industrial companies, workshops, small advertising companies, and enterprises. Simple connection to the 220 V power network and no need to arrange the industrial building space make it one of the best in its segment.
What Materials Can You Use for Vacuum Forming?
You can use various polymer materials for the production of necessary plastic products. The choice of a polymer directly depends on the field of further application of the form and the characteristic parameters required in the manufacturing process of a specific product. There are many types of molding materials that act as raw materials for vacuum forming. They include:
- ABS plastic
- acrylic (plexiglass)
- PVC plastic
Thermoforming Equipment: Design and Configuration
One of the best technological methods of working with plastic today is vacuum forming. It allows you to get a variety of plastic products of various forms, sizes, and designs. Vacuum-formed products will always be in demand in the market due to the increasing intensity of plastic mold production every year.
Vacuum-forming equipment is designed to work with heated plastic sheets with a thickness from a millimeter to 2 centimeters and provide a high production speed at relatively low costs.
Manual vacuum forming machines have the following completing units:
- LCD display with hardware settings
- Industrial controller to operate the machine
- Automatic control of switching on vacuum and cooling
- Quartz heaters for fast heating of plastic
- Powerful vacuum pump with deep vacuum and receiver
- Smart valve system that manages the vacuum process and can be customized to suit your needs
- Pneumatic table drive with middle position and variable speed of raising and lowering of the matrix
- Metal forming table with holes for fixing forms
- Form ventilation for easy product removal
- Adjustable cooling fan
- Clamping frame with adjustable clamping intensity over the entire plane of the plastic sheet
- Support of heated material from sagging
Working Principle of Vacuum Forming Machine
Typically, plastic vacuum forming technology includes the following steps: fixation, heating, pre-blowing, deaeration, indentation, cooling, extraction, and processing. If you are trying to understand how thermoforming equipment works, you can watch a short tutorial video vacuum forming machine on the MACHINETIC YouTube channel. It will reveal all the “secrets” of this machine and guide you through all the stages of the production of plastic parts:
- Place the selected master model on the surface of the desktop and fasten it to the base.
- Insert a polymer sheet into the metal frame and fix it with special clamps.
- On the display of the equipment, turn on heaters that will evenly heat the entire surface of the plastic sheet.
- After a few minutes, the polymer sheet heated to a thermoplastic state is applied to the master model, forming a sealed molding chamber between the sheet and the molding table.
- Next, the machine pumps out air from the forming chamber due to the work of the vacuum (air pumping creates a vacuum, pulling the plastic to the models and the forming table).
- After a cooling module is turned on, it speeds up the cooling of the product to the peeling temperature, increasing the speed of plastic mold production.
- The finished polymer product is removed from the master model.
The low-cost version of manual vacuum forming machines has several convincing advantages:
- Correct structure and convenient arrangement of working components (during the forming process, the heating elements move back without heating the working area).
- The clamping frame has convenient settings for the clamping intensity (springing in the back compensates for metal bending).
- Heaters can be switched off and put into sleep mode to reduce energy consumption.
- Correct positions of heating zones (from the center to the sides) help create an even heat pattern.
- The heating plate and forming table are equipped with industrial mechanics.
- The machine is equipped with industrial rotary vane pumps with a deep vacuum (this ensures high reliability during operation).
- Ergonomic and convenient layout of the machine control system.
- High maintainability of equipment and reliable design solutions.
- The machine has a monolithic structure and a convenient compact size.
- Powder coating and high assembly quality.
- Affordable price and payback in a short time.
Plastic Products Created Using a Vacuum Forming Equipment
If you are working with a thermal vacuum machine, it is possible to produce the required number of plastic parts (forms) used for industrial purposes in the following areas:
- automotive and aviation industry (forms for the production of assembly parts, tuning elements)
- agricultural industry
- construction industry
- light industry (forms for creating items of clothing, containers for storing food, etc.)
- marketing (letterforms for advertising signs, banners)
- leisure (children’s toys)
- production of various equipment
- household appliances (forms for production parts and prefabricated units)
Features of Thermoforming Technologies
Trade mannequins, acrylic bathtubs, packaging for tools, equipment and toys, basins, volumetric letters used to decorate salons, cafes, shops, restaurants, and bars… What can these diverse in use and shape products have in common?
As a rule, they are all made in one common interesting way called vacuum forming. The forming process itself is quite simple, and therefore, it provides the opportunity to launch a modern, in-demand business if you have the necessary machine tool.
Unlike other thermoplastic technologies that use powder or resin, vacuum thermoforming involves the use of finished plastic sheets. Products are manufactured under low pressure, which allows the use of relatively inexpensive equipment. This technology is indispensable if you need to create a structure with a complex relief.
Sometimes, after the forming process, it is necessary to cut off excess material from the product, which can be shredded, recycled, and reused. The average molding cycle time (excluding warm-up) is 40-120 seconds. Then, you need to wait some time before the product cools down, turn off the machine, and remove the formed sheet.
You can even arrange a vacuum forming shop in your garage or rent small commercial premises. An average vacuum forming machine does not take up much space. Its dimensions, on average, are about 1 or 2 square meters. Vacuum-formed products have excellent aesthetic characteristics. If the modes of heating, cooling, and evacuation are correctly maintained, it will become a guarantee of high-quality work results and the absence of spatial and surface defects.
Manual vacuum forming machines have found their application in factories and individual enterprises for the manufacturing of polymer products for all kinds of purposes. They are high-tech, functional, easy to use, and will help reduce energy consumption more than other types of plastic forming equipment.
The production technology has its own characteristics. That is why when purchasing a manual vacuum forming machine, it is important to choose such a manufacturer that will provide you with competent advice on the types of this equipment and clarify different issues associated with the operation of equipment.
The MACHINETIC Company is a young but rapidly gaining popularity and recognition manufacturer of high-quality thermoforming equipment. Thanks to verified design documentation and mathematical calculations, each vacuum machine manufactured by this professional team is ready-to-use and does not require additional equipment. For those who are going to start a turnkey business or are a representative of a company that works in any industrial sector, a vacuum forming machine will be a promising investment that will pay off in the shortest possible time.