Common Industry Usage of Thermoformed Products

Photo Of Products Made With A Plastic Machining Center - CMS North AmericaPlastics have become ubiquitous in nearly every industry, in part due to the impact of the thermoforming plastic machining process. Thermoforming involves the use of heat and pressure to create new products. The use of this technology has been incorporated by companies around the world to create reliable, durable goods at low costs.

Thermoforming Overview

Thermoformed products are created using CNC machines, which utilize a three-step process. First, a flat sheet of plastic is heated, then the sheet is placed in a mold and is finally trimmed. The types of plastics used in thermoforming are nearly as varied as the products themselves and include synthetic, semi-synthetic, or natural materials. The majority of plastics are made from petrochemicals, but those made from plant-based materials, or bioplastics, are becoming increasingly common due to their sustainability.

Thin-gauged plastic products include items like disposable cups, storage containers, plates, and many other products used in the food and medical fields. Thick gauge materials include products such as vehicle panels, refrigerator and shower liners, and shipping pallets.

Some of the many industries that have harnessed the potential of CNC plastic machining include:

Automotive Industry

Thermoforming is used most often in the automotive industry for creating items like vehicle doors and interior panels, such as dashboards. Multi-axis cuts with thermoforming CNC machines are typically required for compatibility with the additional parts used in automobile construction.

Building Industry

The building industry utilizes a broad range of thermoformed products in the construction of homes or businesses, including HVAC components, shower stalls, and more.

Medical Industry

Products often used in the medical industry include storage units and covers for contaminated items, bezels, and instrument enclosures. Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), for example, is often used in the industry as sterile packaging to ensure the integrity of medical products.

Aerospace Industry

The aerospace industry uses thermoformed products for the creation of seat backs, interior panels, and instrument coverings. In an industry that relies heavily on weight, plastic parts are an ideal lightweight building component.

CMS North America provides CNC machines and resources to meet a variety of plastic machining objectives, including thermoforming machines. Contact them for more information on the benefits of CNC machining center technology.

Tips for a Safe CNC Machining Workspace

Photo Of A Machining Workspace - CMS North AmericaIn any workplace, there are a variety of safety risks which employees must observe. When working with CNC machines, safety protocol is particularly important. CNC machining company employers should clearly communicate rules to its employees about proper safety guidelines for working with these high-tech machines.

Basic Safety Requirements

It goes without saying that a company and all its employees must follow the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) legal requirements. Furthermore, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) continuously publishes new voluntary standards for the care and safety of such machinery. A CNC machining company can comply with the latest ANSI requirements, as they often go hand-in-hand with OSHA regulations.

Safety Tips for CNC Machines

  • Schedule training sessions for new employees and refresher sessions for veteran workers, especially if OSHA or ANSI regulations change.
  • Routinely check moving parts in the machine, the path of its router and its surrounding area for any obstacles that could potentially impede or redirect the automation.
  • Conduct one or more trial runs of the equipment to ensure that the parts are properly calibrated. If available, use the lock feature to keep the X, Y, and Z axes still while running the program.
  • Wear personal protective equipment, such as goggles, ear protectors, and non-slip shoes. Workers should not wear loose clothing or jewelry that could potentially get caught in a machine with a rotating, reciprocating, or transversing motion.
  • Never use a piece of equipment that has a “Danger” sign unless a supervisor is authorized to remove it when they determine that it is safely operational once again.

Additionally, employees can study a brief history of CNC to understand the context of these powerful pieces of equipment. While consistently upgrading and maintaining quality machines and training workers on a regular basis may seem costly at first, it proves a necessary and worthy investment. A CNC machining company not only saves money in the long run, but it can also save lives and limbs.

Waterjet 101: What You Need to Know

Photo Of Waterjet Machining Equipment - CMS North AmericaWaterjet cutting technology encompasses a wide range of subtractive industrial machines used in the process of material cutting. These units have gained a reputation for their low-cost, high-precision cuts.

What Is Waterjet Cutting?

In the simplest terms, a waterjet is any cutting tool that uses a high-pressure stream of water to cut materials. Diverse machining models can either utilize the pure force of water or be paired with abrasive accelerants, such as garnet. These machines can be preferable to other cutting methods because they utilize a low volume of water to create a very thin stream of high-pressure water to perform difficult tasks. There are multiple varieties on the market today, including those with multiple cutting heads to produce multiple cuts at the same time.

How Is This Type of Cutting Used?

Waterjet technology can be used for part manufacturing for nearly any industry. Typically, pure waterjet units are used to cut softer materials like foam, paper, plastics, or carpet. Abrasive machining, on the other hand, is used to cut harder materials such as metals, wood, and glass.

Though there are many types of waterjet units, the process remains largely the same. Water or abrasive material is shot at a cut surface at anywhere from 60,000 to 90,000 psi. The water or abrasives act similarly to a mechanical saw to create fine cuts.

What Are the Benefits?

When waterjet cutting materials were becoming increasingly common in the 1980s, the cut kerf was much larger. Today, CMS has waterjet CNC machining, which can make complex cuts with up to 5 axes. One of the many benefits of using this variety of CNC technology today is that the cut material is not affected, as no heat is created during the process.

Another of the major benefits of using this technology is its versatility, both in the materials capable of being used and the range of items that can be cut. Most waterjet machines can be adjusted to meet the demands of diverse materials.

Industries as diverse as medical, defense, maritime, and aerospace have discovered the benefits of this type of machining. Additional material is available for companies interested in learning more about the technical aspects of waterjet CNC cutting capabilities.

The Relationship Between CNC Machining and Boat Construction

Photo Of A Boat Hull Made With CNC Machining - CMS North AmericaThe boat building process is often associated with precision, hand-made artistry. The process, which once took weeks to complete, can now be accomplished inside of a day with the aid of CNC machines. Learn more about the process and the relationship between these machines and the boat building process.

Speed and Precision

Perhaps the clearest benefit of using CNC machining in the boat building process is efficiency. CAD-reading machining means that boats can theoretically be designed in the morning and cut in the afternoon. Boatyards can take advantage of these machines in the creation of composite hulls and deck components, as well as the creation of large-scale molds that can be assembled on-site.

Creating Design Molds

Another central advantage of using CNC machining is the ability to construct molds, which can then be replicated. Using large-scale models with a moving bridge, like the Poseidon, Poseidon Maxi, or Cronus, boat manufacturers can take advantage of 5-axis machining with over 200 feet of envelopment, 33 feet in width, and 16.5 feet in height.

In conjunction with CNC Machining, contemporary boat manufacturers can utilize newer construction materials, further increasing efficiency. Many of these new materials are more durable, lighter, and cheaper than traditional materials.

Construction and Trimming

Before a boat model can be applied on top of a hull, models must be treated and trimmed of excess materials. Models like CMS’s 5-axis CNC machining use laser scanning and data acquisition technology to check boats for areas that need trimming after the assembly phase. Large-scale machining units, like the Poseidon, are capable of trimming the largest fiberglass hulls and decks with precision.

Special Features and Interiors

Modern boats feature many different types of hatches, fixtures, and metal fasteners. Special computer assisted automating processes can be used to carve these areas. Structures intended for interior design can also be created with the assistance of CNC technology, helping to reduce the time and costs typically associated with specialty manual labor.

From design to creation, manufacturers who take advantage of CNC machining in their construction process can greatly decrease the time and expense associated with traditional boat construction.