- It is also advised that the entire material must be heated equally. This is because if heated in small sections the material tend to develop stress points which will affect the durability of the material in the future. It also must be heated accordingly based on the composition of the material.
- Acrylic based materials are the most flexible when heated to the proper temperature. Next is a blend of acrylic and polyester which is second flexible. Last being a full polyester material being the least flexible.
- Make sure not to heat the material too much or too little. Underheating can cause it to develop cracks, stretch marks, and cause breaking. Overheating also causes the material to bubble or blister and may result in the color to change. Heating in general may also cause it to darken in color depending on the dye used in manufacturing.
Bending & Shaping
Forms & Molds
- Molds can be made by creating a set of male and female molds using plywood or MDF. The material needs to be placed in between while it cools. The material needs to cool down below 170°F before it must be removed.
- Using forms and molds must be checked carefully as any imperfections contained in their surface will be transferred to the material after thermoforming. This might affect the final quality and desired design of the material.
- One method to eliminate such markings is to line the surface of the mold using tempered hardboard which is also known as a peg board just without the holes.
- If a vacuum press is available. It can be used to help the material conform to the desired shape. It is however beneficial to use a specially shaped piece of wood to coax the material into position. Sprinkling a light layer of talcum powder is also great for making the entire process easier.
After thermoforming is complete the process of seaming and other modifications can be applied to the material. It is important that during this time that you must consult your manufacturer about the specifications of the material. This is to avoid the material from being damaged or installed incorrectly.
Oven comes in three styles used in thermoforming. They are the infrared/radiant ovens, hot air/convection ovens, and the platen press. It doesn’t really matter what kind of oven you use just as long as it is big enough to contain the entire piece of the material. Also, make sure to calibrate the oven based on the specifications provided by the manufacturer.
*Platen Press – is specially designed to come into contact with the material. It is known to heat up the material faster than the other two.
*Infrared/Radiant Oven – is an oven made to transfer energy using electromagnetic radiation as a source of heat. This is then transferred to the material which gets heated as well.
*Air/Convection Oven – A convection oven uses hot air circulated by a fan to evenly heat the surface or the oven. This reduces the chances of uneven heating.
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