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Looking For Vacuum Forming (Formable) Plastics

Looking For Vacuum Forming (Formable) Plastics

“What is a good material for vacuum forming?”

This is a popular question received from clients. This question has a rather long answer. Most Thermoplastic materials are thermo-formable, and thus vacuum forming compatible. Some of the most common and easier materials for forming are listed below.vacuum forming polycarbonate for food and chocolate molds

Common Vacuum Forming Materials:

Each plastic material has a variety of different properties, and they form at different temperatures. The Acrylic, PETG and Polycarbonate sheets are normally clear (can be special ordered in colors), however the Polycarbonate may have to be heat dried prior to the vacuum forming temperature phase (depending on thickness).
ABS and HIS both form very well, and are normally White or Black. The ABS normally has a fine texture called Hair Cell on the primary surface, the Styrene is smooth on two sides. On a special basis Styrene and ABS can be run in almost any thickness up to .375″ thick, and in almost any color (minimums apply) and in a huge range of custom run sheet sizes.
While many other materials may be available for special applications and with various improved properties, these are the most commonly available and used materials.
Some of the important factors in choosing a material for your vacuum forming project would be: clarity, strength of finished part, temperature, depth of draw, UV resistance, Flame Retardant Rating, thickness and size range.

Large parts can be produced using this process, for example – Hot Tubs and Pick Up Truck Bed Liners. Also vacuum forming is used to produce very small parts like chocolate molds and numerous packaging applications.Pouring White Chocolate into Polycarbonate Mold

Most vacuum forming started in their garage (or kitchen). A simple vacuum forming ‘machine’ can be produced at very low cost using 2 X 4 wood, peg board, and your shop vac. Obviously this is not the way the above hot tub was formed, but the process is rather simple and is much more an art than a science. We have seen several YouTube videos showing entry level – DIY style vacuum forming machines.  Most use the kitchen oven as the heat source and are used to make small chocolate molds, wax molds, hobby parts and more. Many materials can be used in this simple process, and we are happy to assist you with your basic questions of the vacuum forming process.
There are also a wide range of commercial thermoforming machines (see video) available, in almost unlimited range of sizes.

There is a wide array of materials that can be used, and they have different properties – no one material meets all your needs. Contact us for details on your vacuum forming requirements or with question.

Acetal Copolymer Compared With Homopolymer Acetal

Acetal Copolymer Compared With Homopolymer Acetal

Are Acetal Copolymer and Homopolymer Acetal the same?

This is one of our most common questions, and it is a bit involved of an answer.

There are two main versions of Acetal Resin

Homopolymer Acetal and Copolymer Acetal

The most popular name for a Homopolymer Acetal is the Dupont Delrin, which is a premium Homopolymer Acetal.

The second Acetal is a Copolymer acetal, and there are many suppliers of this resin. 

Acetal is the generic, and not all Acetal is Delrin® Hompolymer, nor is it Acetal Copolymer. A distinction is required to determine which is best for your application. There are several manufacturers that produce Acetal Copolymer resin, including: Celanese®, BASF®, Ticona®, SABIC® and many more.

Acetal Copolymer compared to Delrin® Homopolymer Acetal

Delrin® is a premium homopolymer Acetal produced by Dupont. Many of the physical properties of the homopolymer exceed that of the copolymer Acetal. Dupont™ Delrin® is a popular acetal homopolymer brand name and the most commonly used acetal homopolymer.Comparing structure of Homopolymer and Copolymer Acetal

The generic term ‘Acetal’ covers both the homopolymer from Dupont and the copolymer grades of resin. Both materials meet the ASTM-D-4181, ASTM-D-6100 or ASTM-D-6778 specification (an old call out is L-P-392). Homopolymer Acetal is POM111, and Copolymer Acetal is POM211.

Both are very tough and machinable, and have some similar properties.

An additional difference is the inherit problem of center-line porosity in some of the homopolymer grades. This is caused by out gassing during manufacturing, and can be found at the center or on the surface of all homo-polymer extrusions. This porosity can cause some problems with machining or moisture permeation through the material. The copolymer resin has little to no porosity issue.

Some of the other differences are in the physical properties of the resin. Review the chart for some of the most popular properties people ask for when looking at Acetal Copolymer or Homopolymer Acetal.

See Homopolymer and Copolymer Acetal properties chart below.

PropertiesHomopolymer Acetal Copolymer Acetal
Tensile Modulus of Elasticity450,000400,000
Flexural Modulus of Elasticity470,000366,000
Heat Deflection Temp @ 264 psi – degrees F257220
Melting Point – degrees F347335
Coef. of Linear Thermal Expansion6.8 x 10-55.4 x 10-5
Water Absorption @ Saturation0.900.80

Material is available as both Acetal Copolymer or Acetal Homopolymer in Rod, Block, Sheet and Slabs.

Acetal is one of the most widely available plastics, especially on the West Coast (for some reason the East Coast seems to like the Nylon – Polyamide material more). Most commonly available in Natural (White) or Black, but can be produced in a wide range of colors with minimum orders. This enables material matching your product color or for easy identification of parts.

While these properties are similar, depending on your application, one material may be better suited than the other. Review our Delrin® Homopolymer and Acetal Copolymer page for additional information on the product availability and data sheets. We get calls for the premium Delrin® Homopolymer product, but some people may call it Delron, Delran, Delrun, Derlin and many other names, but it is still premium Delrin® Homopolymer Acetal to us.

Looking for other colors of Acetal Copolymer or Acetal Homopolymer Rod?

Contact us today for more information on Acetal Copolymer or premium Delrin® Homopolymer Acetal or any other plastic material.

Call us at 866-832-9315 or Email Us for more additional details

**Note:  Delrin® is a registered Trademark of Dupont