Solid Surface thermoforming is our Speciality

The feature of Solid Surface that stands out above all others has to be its ability to be formed into any three dimensional shape that can be conceived.  Our 3D thermoforming knowledge and ability is something that we personally pride ourselves on. We have invested heavily in the highest quality manufacturing equipment available, which gives us the capability to manufacture practically any two or three dimensional object. We can design and engineer single products or produce multiple batch runs depending on your requirements in any Solid Surface material similar to Corian.

Two Dimensions or Three?

We describe thermo forming as 2D and 3D. The difference is quite simple to explain, but in practice 3D thermo-forming is a more complicated process. When 3D forming we bend the material in three directions at once, an example of which would be to create a sphere from a flat sheet. Compared to this, when we are thermoforming in 2D we are just bending the flat sheet around one axis. Take a look at the video below to get an idea of the process.

How Hot?

180 degrees centigrade actually, the temperature we have to heat the Solid Surface to in order to make it pliable enough to form. At this temperature the material becomes bendy like rubber, but as it only stays in this form for a couple of minutes we have to be quick when setting the hot material on a former. It takes around an hour to cool enough to handle with bare hands, at which point it can then be worked in the same manner we use to process a solid sheet.

Limitations

It is possible to bend 12mm Solid Surface to a minimum internal radius of 50mm, although this can whiten the surface on some of the darker colours. We can bend 6mm Solid Surface to a tighter radius than 12mm sheets, but again it’s dependant on colour. If you have a particular project in mind it is best to talk to us, where we will be more than happy to workout the best method to shape or machine the material.

 

Pacer HDS CNC Router

We can import any CAD file supplied by a client and feed it directly into our Pacer HDS CNC router, where we just have to program the toolpath, then it does all the hard work whilst maintaining an accuracy of 0.01mm. Check out the video to the right showing our CNC in action.

Do you need something prototyping, or just want something cutting out?

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Thermoforming Oven and Press

To run alongside our CNC we have invested in Global Thermoforming equipment. Global are the world leaders in forming machines for the Solid Surface industry.

With our GET INDUSTRIAL 3710 thermoforming oven we are able to heat an entire sheet of Solid Surface (Corian, Himacs or Avonite) within 12 minutes. The very hot sheet is then transferred to our 3.7 metre long vacuum membrane press (also supplied by Global). Within the press we place a 3D CNC machined former, usually made from MDF, before placing the preheated Solid Surface on top of the former. A flexible high temperature silicone membrane is then stretched over the former and Solid Surface, before the air is removed from the bed pulling the Solid Surface over the former and into shape.

We are one of only a handful of companies in the UK that have these capabilities. If you would like more information to see what’s possible with thermoforming technology please feel free to contact us.

 

Building a Former…

A former, as the name suggests is the mould that we build to ‘form’ the hot sheets of solid surface. We can either bond multiple layers of MDF together into a large block or we can use high density foam depending on the forming application. These blocks can then be 3D machined using our CNC, or we can cut out multiple plates from MDF sheet as shown in the video to the right, this method is more economical with material but not as fast as the first method.