Vacuum Forming Finishing
Once your vacuum formed items have been designed, the tool manufactured and the items vacuum formed in the factory, there are a number of ways of finishing them to get to the desired final project result.
For example, some packaging items may need euro-slots to hang them on shop shelf racking display systems, or formings may need cable holes or other features added to make them complete. There are many pros and cons, as well as cost implications to each finshing process. Below is an overview of some of the many various finishing options and their advantages and disadvantages.
There are two methods for finishing parts by hand: trimming by hand or with a band saw.
For single, or very small production runs in softer/less brittle plastic materials, items can be scored and the waste snapped off as required. Thinner and very soft materials can be just cut with a hand knife.
If the production quantity is a little larger and a high degree of finishing accuracy isn’t required, then a table band saw can be utilised. A jig or fence can be utilised to ensure consistency in cutting. As with hand trimming though, this is not ideal for large runs of products.
Guillotining is an incredibly clean and basic method of removing vacuum formed parts from finished material sheet. Its simplistic approach is suitable for low production-run parts where straight or more basic cuts are required.
This rules out the cutting of more intricate jobs, or ones with radius corners and the like, which can be too complicated or time-consuming for guillotining.
Holes can generally be manually drilled through many vacuum formed parts. Jigs can be created and utilised to ensure consistent positioning across the job. However, due to the manual nature of this finishing process, it’s most suitable for larger pieces and/or smaller production quantities.
This is a reasonably fast and efficient way of cutting vacuum formed items from the original sheet of material. The process uses a cutting guide template that pushes down onto the unfinished item by means of a set of rollers inside the machine, leaving a finished part cut to the desired specification. This method can also cut vertical features such as euroslot or cable holes guides at the same time as the pressing.
Roller cutting is an excellent finishing process for fairly large items where tenths of one millimetre accuracy isn’t required. As the item moves through the cutting machine, a small amount of misalignment can occur. It’s also not possible to make side cuts or horizontal holes into a finished item, as the blade of the tool is pushed down on a vertical plane.
Vertical Press cutting
This process is an alternative to roller cutting, where more detailed or accuracy of finish is required on the part.
It’s similar to roller cutting in many ways as it utilises a tool that is pushed down onto an unfinished part, but as the part stays rigid in a frame, there is a much higher quality and accuracy of finish. The process is regularly used for punching very small finished items out of a plastic sheet as opposed to adding final detailing punched into the product.
Press cutting tools are generally more expensive than roller cutter tools and just like the roller cutting, features cannot be added, or cuts cannot be added into the side of a part.
Finishing plastic parts on a CNC machine is the most accurate method of cutting and adding such features as holes and our machines can trim to within 0.1mm of accuracy.
CNC comes into its own for more complex jobs that require intricate detailing. We usually use CAD data to create the cuts, but in many cases it is possible to reach around hand finish parts to create the NC code.
Using state-of-the-art machinery, this can be a more expensive route to finishing, but where a job cannot be done by hand; it’s an excellent way to create finished items.
If you would like to find out more about the vacuum forming finishing processes we use at production facility in Leeds, or how to best finish your job, please call or email us.