March 2010 | Focus: Fabrication
The fabricator’s mind and role in material selection
When fabricating plastic materials, the fabricator is presented with many challenges due to the various properties a material may present. Is it hard or soft, pliable or firm? All properties affect the performance of the machinery and tooling used to produce an item. Limitations are discovered that some design engineers can easily overlook. Read more.
Improving critical CNC machining operations
Lehigh Valley Plastics, a fabricator and distributor of specialized plastics based in Bethlehem, PA, USA, made a decision to improve the capability and productivity of its critical CNC machining operations. Management had long sought a comprehensive solution to reduce high-volume machining time for existing parts, increase throughput and expand their overall CNC capacity in order to undertake new, more complex projects. Find out what the company did.
Vacuum forming: a niche process
Vacuum forming is a niche process, and we should thoroughly understand it so that we can offer it to our customers. Read more to find out why vacuum forming is strategically important in the vast array of fabrication methods.
Many IAPD distributors have turned to plastics fabrication in order to serve a broader market of customers that desire finished or semi-finished products. Distributors in our industry have panel saws for cut-to-size, and often edge finishers and line benders that allow us to fabricate a variety of products. We even have CNC routers and lasers for cutting intricate precision plastic parts. However, only about a fourth of us in IAPD participate in the vacuum forming process.
Building sustainability into the fabrication process
Given today’s economic challenges and rising consumer demand for more sustainable products, many retailers are taking measures to reduce the amount of energy expended and waste produced across the supply chain. One area, however, may be overlooked when it comes to reducing a store’s environmental impact: point-of-purchase displays. Maximizing merchandising space and grabbing consumer attention at the point-of-purchase (P-O-P) also requires functionality and eye-catching design. Fortunately for architects, designers and fabricators, a material solution exists that enables them to push the envelope of creativity and design while still prioritizing the mandate for sustainability. Read more.
Fabrication techniques for stock shapes
In today’s challenging marketplace, the fabrication of plastic materials can add value for your customers. Plastic stock shapes may be easily machined, thermoformed, welded and bonded. It is important to work with the designer to specify the tolerances really needed to make his or her part work and to discuss what can actually be produced with the equipment available. Read more or order IAPD's Introduction to Plastics for information on different fabrication techniques.
Test Your Knowledge
What do you know about plastics fabrication? (Answers are at www.iapd.org/popquiz.html.)
1. Plastic materials that can be reformed and reprocessed are called
2. The poor thermal conductivity of plastics requires that special care be taken during machining to provide the best possible tolerances. Which step does NOT need consideration?
a. coolant flow
b. depth of cut
c. type of tool
d. amount of parts required