A. Tooling that matches the inside surface of the part, is fixed to a vertically moving platform. Plastic sheet is clamped in a pivoting frame above the tool. Top heaters slide over on rails to soften the plastic. Then moved back to allow air to blow and pre stretch sheet. Tool platform is raised, vacuum applied which sucks & forms the softened plastic over tool. When cooled, the tool is lowered with a little air pressure. Clamp frame is raised and part removed for trimming.
A. The surface finish is dependent on a number of issues, that include complexity of part, thickness of material, gloss level of material chosen, heat required to form part and design and finish and venting of tool. However generally surface finish is very good and fault free.
A. Yes, but it will depend upon the part design on 2D drawing to determine if it can be machined or hand made, more likely hand made is usual from 2D data. If the part is seen to be more complex, we can offer conversion to CAD 3D data as a priced service.
A. Yes deep features can be formed as long as they have required taper and do not thin the material too much. To ensure the sharpness of features a plug assist is sometimes used, this pushes onto the opposite side to the vacuum and can be manually applied or by machine adaption.
A. Vacuum form tooling is not expensive, making it cost effective for prototype quantities and low to high volume production. Tooling can be made in wood and MDF for basic proto feasibility parts. CNC machined resin board tooling, allows for finer tolerances and detail to be achieved and will be able to last to produce potentially, thousands of parts. Aluminium tooling offers the optimum solution to surface finish, texturing and part volume capability.
A. First parts are limited to the completion of tooling, which depends upon quality of CAD or Drgs. received. Vacuum forming is not a fast process like injection moulding. The cycle time is slower due to the generally non-automated nature, needing an operator dedicated to the machine. However typically first off parts would be available 3-4 weeks on receipt of an order.