Solid Surface thermoforming

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Jon Olson explains solid surface thermoforming

Transcript of Solid Surface thermoforming

  • 1. Shop Management Matters Figure 4 - All storage racks must be visibly labeled with their weight loads. Taking a Look at Solid Surface Thermoforming By Jon Olson H ow many surfaces can be heated in an beautiful lines and shapes that we create oven, briefly cooled, and then shaped bring out the aesthetics of a design. Shapes and twisted into countless designs? are crafted that are pleasing to the eye and Not many; and solid surface is one of the few. add to the daily enjoyment of using and living This makes solid surface a material with truly with the design. Who doesnt enjoy it when unlimited design potential. their surroundings are as beautiful as they are functional? Think about the possible applications of this technology. Thermoforming can produce The Process of Thermoforming furniture, sinks, bathtubs, cabinets, benches, Many people recognize that solid surface lampshades and coved backsplashes. And that thermoforming can produce some really cool is only scratching the surface of the endless projects with unique selling opportunities, but possibilities. Kitchen designs can really benefit may wonder how practical it is to attempt. Is from solid surface thermoforming. How about it attainable for only a few select companies? an island top with a thermoformed edge that To address these concerns, lets look at the drops to the floor? (See Figure 1.) That look process of solid surface thermoforming a little gives a countertop design a high drama, one-of- more closely. a-kind look that adds tremendous value to the finished product. The key to thermoforming, as with any process, is to do your homework. It is always a good idea I cant over emphasize how important solid to talk with the manufacturer of the material surface thermoforming is to our industry. The to find out suggested procedures. You may Figure 1 This kitchen countertop with an eye-catching drop apron utilizes Figure 2 When solid surface is thermoformed, it goes from a durable sheet to the thermoforming capabilities of solid surface to take this project beyond something the consistency of cooked spaghetti, and after cooling, once again just another flat countertop surface. retains the sought-after properties that has put solid surface among the premium surfacing options.22 Vol. 4, Issue 1, 2011 International Surface Fabricators Association
  • 2. Figure 3 Vacuum forming heated solid surface material is a great way to achieve complex 3-D shapes.also want to talk to fabricators who are familiar F for about 10 to 12 minutes. When its taken When it comes to polyester material, it canwith the process. Additionally, be prepared out of the oven it has the flexibility of cooked be bent, but there are some restrictions whento do some trial-and-error practice on scrap spaghetti (see Figure 2). The remarkable part compared to acrylic solid surface. Polyester, formaterial. Thermoforming is both an art and a of this is, after cooling for just 30 to 40 minutes, example, cant be bent into the 3-D shapes youscience, and hands-on work experience cant it is rock solid again and retains the strength of can achieve with an acrylic surface because itbe replaced. a flat piece of solid surface but in the new form can be prone to tearing or even burning. it has been shaped to.There are really three types of solid surface Also, material with larger particulates tends tomaterial, acrylic, polyester and acrylic- Please note, however, that heating times can have problems with those particulates poppingpolyester blend surfaces. Each type can be vary greatly depending on the type of oven out during the forming process. Additionally,thermoformed, but the process will vary from used. For instance, a convection-style oven, polyester solid surface has different heating andmaterial to material. which circulates heat around the sheet, can take cooling times than acrylic. The general rule of 45 minutes, while platen ovens, which have a thumb for polyester-based solid surface is toWhen bending acrylic surfaces the general rule heating element actually touching the material, reduce the heat by 30 degrees F and plan onof thumb for heating the material is 330 degrees are significantly faster. heating the material 10 to 15 minutes longer International Surface Fabricators Association Vol. 4, Issue 1, 2011 23 Circle Reader Service # 08 on the Reader Service Page or go to
  • 3. Figure 4 Some thermoforming ovens, such as this platen-type system, are large enough to heat an entire 30- by 144-in. sheet of solid surface. than acrylic. Of course, please make sure to available for thermoforming that come in a clam looks, which is why they are referred to check with your supplier of polyester sheet different sizes and shapes. Smaller so-called as clamshells. They have heating elements stock for its recommendations. strip ovens are typically used just for heating on both the top and the bottom part of the build-up pieces to be formed, whereas some clamshell, and generally have a smaller footprint Acrylic-polyester blends of solid surface will ovens are large enough to accommodate an in the shop for space savings. Many times a fall somewhere between the two ends of the entire sheet of material that is 30-in.-wide by vacuum table will be underneath the oven for spectrum when it comes to thermoforming, 144-in. long (see Figure 4). even more economical use of space and easier depending on the exact content of the material. transfer of material. Platen ovens would usually Generally speaking, the more acrylic included in have the vacuum table next to the oven. the product, the shorter the heat times required Good molds are as and the more radical the bends can be. Once important as a good oven. Good molds are as important as a good oven. again, make sure to check with the supplier for If you minimize how strong a form needs to recommendations on thermoforming. If you minimize how strong be while bending, you might crush the form a form needs to be while under the stress a vacuum table puts on it. There are different ways to form solid surfaces. Also, whatever your mold looks like is what the Some ovens come with a vacuum table, which