At Brentwood, we thermoform heavy-gauge parts that combine aesthetic design with technical innovation for nearly any type of vehicle. We utilize both the vacuum and pressure thermoforming processes with starting sheet thicknesses varying between 0.060” (1.5mm) and 0.5” (12.7mm).
To differentiate the pressure forming process from standard vacuum forming, here are some important details and advantages to consider:
What is Pressure Forming?
Pressure forming is a more advanced method of thermoforming. A sheet of plastic is heated, stretched onto a mold, and forced against the mold by a vacuum. Additionally, a pressure box is added in this process to increase pressure behind the part. This pressure is two to four times that of vacuum forming with pressures up to 60 psi or beyond, if required. The added forming pressure allows sharper details to be added to the parts for both functionality and aesthetic purposes.
Advantages of Pressure Thermoforming:
1. Edges and corners can have smaller radii, making parts look sharper. This means that geometries can approach the look and feel of injection molding at a fraction of the cost.
2. Texturing is much more uniform and precise with pressure forming since the texture is applied after the sheet is formed, as compared to vacuum forming where a textured sheet can wash out during the forming process. These textures can be used to hide scuffing and blemishes that may occur in the field to give the parts a fresh look over a longer period of time. From natural-looking random texturizing to precise geometric patterns, many aesthetics can be achieved by adding textures to your thermoformed part. Different textures and smooth areas can also be added on the same part.
3. Beyond textures, embossed text and branding are all possible. This includes brail, company logos, symbols and icons to guide or inform, and even complex graphics. In most cases, if it can be embossed, it can be pressure formed.
4. Complex geometries including undercuts can be more easily made using pressure forming.
5. Pressure forming creates highly consistent molded features with tighter tolerances than vacuum forming. If your application requires tight tolerances for precise fit-ups, pressure forming may help.
To learn more about pressure forming or to discuss a potential project, please reach out to us by submitting a contact form. We’d be happy to discuss different design and process possibilities with you!