Plug Assist Materials for Improved Forming of Transparent Polypropylene

The performance of a new class of copolymer syntactic foam (HYTAC-FLX and HYTAC-FLXT) was evaluated and compared to an engineered solid polymer (PEEK) and the industry’s leading thermoplastic syntactic foam (HYTAC-B1X) for use as a plug assist when forming transparent polypropylene (PP).  These new copolymer syntactic foams have been designed to minimize scratching and improve clarity when forming transparent materials and offer additional benefits in machining/polishing of plug materials.    The results, including the effect of plug geometry and surface finish quality, for gloss, scratch, haze, clarity, plug mark and material distribution are detailed in the study.

Syntactic Foam Offers Cost Savings for Heavy Gauge Thermoforming

Common problems encountered in the cut sheet thermoforming process include thin spots, webbing, crowning and plug/pusher mark off. Syntactic foam can be used in various ways with both positive and negative tooling to alleviate these issues. Syntactic plugs result in improved material distribution leading to opportunities for down-gauging. Compared to other common plug/pusher materials such as wood and felt-covered wood, syntactic foam results in minimal plug mark-off and improved plug durability. Attached article as published in The Thermoforming Quarterly provides details.

Tooling Choice Saves Money, Improves Quality

Along with many other variables affecting thermoforming output, the selection of plug assist material is critical. While syntactic foam is widely recognized as an ideal plug material, the choice of which specific grade to use is often left to “whatever we used last time.” Base level epoxy syntactic foams provide a great starting point into the technology and are widely used for a variety of applications. Looking beyond the basics, though, frequently offers significant performance improvements and cost savings. The attached case study provides detail about how one manufacturer gained a 10% increase in average thickness at a critical location (also highlighted as a whopping 41% increase in minimum thickness at the same point) when working with HYTAC-B1X, a thermoplastic syntactic foam, that offered greater friction due to its performance enhancing makeup. The attached article offers details.

See the HYTAC Selector Guide for a full range of offerings and recommendations.