“Thermoforming” is a general description for several different foam forming methods in which a thermoplastic foam sheet is heated in an oven until it has reached its pliable forming temperature. The sheet is then placed on, or in, a mold, formed to a specific shape and allowed to cool.
Flextech utilizes three foam thermoforming methods because each provides formed parts with unique characteristics. These different methods allow us to manufacture custom thermoformed foam, thermoformed foam and fabric, or foam and adhesive components for our customers. The three methods are compression molding, encapsulation molding, and vacuum forming.
1. Compression Molding – is a process Flextech utilizes for the manufacturing of three-dimensional molded foam and foam composite parts. It is an ideal process for making parts that have intricate features, require highly defined part geometry, have varying wall thicknesses, or need to be held to critical dimensional tolerances. This process allows us to mold parts with considerable detail, as well as seal and cut the final part in one operation. Foam compression molding is the process we primarily use to thermoform foam and fabric composites.
2. Encapsulation Molding – is a process Flextech developed in order to meet the unique needs of our customers who require different materials or components encapsulated in molded foam composites. It is essentially a variation of the foam compression molding process that we developed, and it allows us to register and encapsulate viscos-elastic foams, malleable aluminum, rigid plastic, impact absorbing materials, urethane gel, and even electronic components in foam and foam and fabric composites. We have made parts for the medical and personal protection markets using the encapsulation molding process.
3. Vacuum forming – is used by Flextech to mold foam and foam with adhesive composites that only require defined part geometry on one side of the part. The material is heated and drawn over a male tool or into a female tool using vacuum pressure. The use of vacuum pressure in the forming process can, in certain instances, allow us to create undercut features on parts. Parts produced with this process will have defined features on the inside if using a male tool, and the outside if using a female tool. We primarily utilize the foam vacuum forming process to manufacture custom thermal insulation parts for industrial cooling equipment, as well as refrigerated food service equipment.