Thermoforming or thermofilming is a manufacturing process where a plastic sheet is heated to a pliable forming temperature, formed to a specific shape in a blank or mold, and trimmed to create a usable product.
The sheet – also referred to as “film” or “thermofilm” – is heated to a high-enough temperature that it can be stretched over a mold and then it cools to a finished shape. The process creates a seamless surface when the film is adhered to MDF or other types of core.
IWC uses a large production machine to heat and form the plastic sheet and trim the formed parts from the sheet in a continuous high-speed process.
The plastic sheet is fed from a large roll. Many parts can be finished per hour depending on the size and complexity of the parts being covered in film.
The rolls of material come in a wide variety of colors and wood grain patterns. In this photo the rolls of film are shown on a large motorized carousel that allows IWC production staff to quickly change colors and start the next job.
The process creates a seamless surface when the film is adhered to MDF or core. The aesthetics can mimic raised panel cabinet doors and many other woodworking styles and appearances.
At IWC, many surfaces are thermoformed with KYDEX®. Shown below is a close up of a hospital overbed table using SEKISUI’s polymer thermofilm, KYDEX T®
At IWC, thermoform scrap is always recycled. The scrap is compressed in a baling machine for sale to a reprocessing company. Scrap from the thermoforming process can be converted back into sheet material for forming again, or the plastic can be used for other plastic products.