The Differences Between Plastic Injection Molding and Plastic Vacuum Forming

February 14, 2017 11:28 pm Published by

Unless you work in an industry that relies on plastic prototypes or customization to bring designs closer to fruition, you may never give the methods of plastic fabrication a second thought—like plastic vacuum forming and plastic injection molding. For example, plastic fabrication is necessary for many companies to complete a big project, or for businesses to offer a product in quantity through mass production. The key to a successful project completion is choosing the best method with help from a professional in the plastic fabrication industry.

Let’s take a look at the differences between plastic injection molding and plastic vacuum forming in Orem, UT, as well as a quick overview of each process.

Plastic vacuum forming

Plastic vacuum forming is often referred to as thermoforming—though considered a simplified method of thermoforming in much of the industry—which is typically used to make thin plastic products that are single-sided or shell-type parts. The vacuum forming method heats plastic sheets until they are soft enough to work with and mold, and then a vacuum removes the air from between the heated plastic and the mold. Thermoforming services are utilized by industries such as food, medical, entertainment, household products, toys, automotive and office supplies, and result in products like food trays, containers, shower liners and shelving. The basics of plastic vacuum forming are as follows:

  • Tooling: Created out of aluminum—a one-sided 3D form.
  • Materials: Heated flat sheets of plastic are used for product creation. Choose from different materials, colors, sheet thickness and finishes.
  • Production: Plastic sheets are heated until pliable, then shaped in a mold using a vacuum suction.
  • Costs: Because it’s single-sided, production costs are lower that in injection molding, but individual parts may cost more.
  • Finalization: Final products are machine trimmed, and can be painted, coated or used as-is.

Plastic injection molding

On the other hand, plastic injection molding makes double-sided parts or products by using thermoplastic pellets heated down to a liquid state before being injected into a mold. It is a common method of parts manufacturing and is the way to go to produce multiples of the same object. Plastic injection molding is common in the production of things like bottle caps, vehicle dashboards and plastic hair combs. The basics of plastic injection molding are as follows:

  • Tooling: Created out of aluminum, steel or a beryllium-copper alloy—a double-sided 3D mold form.
  • Materials: Starts with thermoplastic pellets that are available in a variety of materials and colors.
  • Production: Before getting injected into the mold, the plastic pellets must be melted down to liquid form.
  • Costs: Pretty affordable for high volume production of the same object, meaning a lower labor cost per piece. But the equipment can be expensive to operate, and mold designs need customization.
  • Finalization: After pieces come out of the mold, they are typically painted or silk screened to enhance their appearance.

To learn more about what plastic injection molding or plastic vacuum forming in Orem, UT can do for your individual project or your business, talk with the professional fabrication team at D&D Plastics. Contact us today!

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