How Thermoforming Works
The thermoforming process uses heat, vacuum pressure, and a mold to form 2D plastic sheets into 3D usable objects. In order to do this, a mold is first cut to create a negative of your design. Air channels are drilled into this mold to enable the vacuum to pull the plastic over the mold. Both the mold and a sheet of thermoplastic are loaded into the machine where a heating element softens the plastic to a malleable temperature. Once the material had been heated to its glass transition temperature and is a rubbery consistency, it is lowered over the mold. A vacuum below the mold suctions out the air between the plastic and the mold. This pulls the plastic taut over the mold so that it takes the mold’s shape. After cooling, the plastic part is taken out, trimmed, and finished.