Recently we just did the mass production of a set of 5 panels, it is great to see finally we make everything right to meet the customer’s needs and requirements of the visual appearance and assemble usage, and we are proud of it since we did a massive amount of analyzing, discussion with team and clients, modification & improvements of manufacturing methods during sample making stage before the mass production is confirmed to start. Would like to share with you the details of the process, extra knowledge of manufacturing, and interesting moments through the following paragraphs to help you know the process and our capability.
How the connection with the client started
This is how the client start the connection with us, the customer is located in United State, and they were looking for new vacuum forming products manufactured to meet their requirements for the panels. Actually, they had worked with other local vacuum forming manufacturers to make samples of these 5 panels for them. Obviously, the samples that other suppliers made can’t meet their needs and requirements, that’s why they search on the internet and look for someone new to make samples again. Coincidently, maybe it’s fate, they saw our web (www.ditaiplastic.com) and go through it, and they find out we are capable and experienced in making such similar panels. So, we got the message they left on our web showing the inquiry of vacuum forming products needs to be made. Our company had been doing international business in the area of the vacuum forming industry for over 8 years, so it is easy to find us when people search on the internet and type in words like “China Vacuum forming”.
Start with analyzing before the production
The moment we saw the message and the inquiry information, we introduced our company briefly and ask the client to show us the 3D file for further help with quoting and analyzing for future manufacturing. As usual, the things we check on at the very first start are the material of the product, usage/application, assemble with other parts needed or not, assemble method, the thickness of the product, whether the current design structure is good for demolding, will the stretching cause particular area to be much thinner, whether the water wave mark/splay be caused, potential warpage/warped situation. These are the aspects we will analyze so that we can plan the detail manufacture process needed, the method needed to avoid potential problems, and suggestions on modifying the design. All the analyzing details and specific explanations with photos will be presented in a document/PPT, which we usually call “DFM”(standing for design for manufacturing). Please see the photos below for showing some slides of the DFM
Regular estimated lead time and process schedule for mold and samples
After analyzing and sending the DFM file with details of manufacturing to the client, we successfully get the client’s trust and begin with the mold and sample of only one panel, due to it being the first cooperation and the client would like to see how the panel will be for purpose of a test on us to start. The mold and sample of the first panel is made perfectly and on time as we expected. BTW, for people that are not familiar with us, our estimated lead time for mold and sample is usually like the following schedule process:
- Material sheet making and Aluminum mold making: Aluminum raw material sheets made by extruding machine and mold made by CNC processing(7-10 days)
- 2. Vacuum forming: plastic raw material sheet and vacuum forming machine processing(2-3 days)
3. CNC drill and cutting: wood jig making and CNC machining processing(3-4 days)
4. Quality testing, blurring, and packing: (2 days)
If want to know the specific details of each step, please see the information on our website: https://www.ditaiplastic.com/, the information is on the page “Service”, hope this can let you know the basics of the process.
Undercut area of one of the panel
After the client receives the samples of the first panel, we get the approval from the customer to start making mold and samples for the rest of the 4 panels. There is one of the panel that require have slider structure for mold due to there being an “undercut area” of the product design and the area is unfeasible for demoulding with the regular/normal mold structure. Please see the photos below shows the ”undercut area”, and slider structure of the mold.
You can see the panel is not able to be taken away from the mold due to the undercut area will be in the way and getting stuck by the mold. But when we have the slider structure for the mold, then this will not be a problem for demolding and the product can be taken out from the mold after the product is formed with the mold.
Our CNC-cutting process
After the forming of the samples is done, we come to the next step of cutting the parts to be the final shape. As you can see the edges of each panel will align up with the edges of each other, so it is important to focus on having the edges cut precisely according to the drawing, otherwise it won’t look good when the edges are not aligned or have gaps between. But with our experienced engineer, sure this is not a concern and they what is key to control for them. Firstly, our engineer will make wood jigs for the panels, so the panels can stay on the jig stably and the whole production will be persistent. As auxiliary means, the magnet plays important role in this step, we will place the magnet on the jig, and when the plastic parts fit on the jig, we will put magnet pieces on the plastic parts too, so more force can be given to help the parts more stable on the jig while the cutting process to reduce vibration and have better precision.
After cutting is done and the panels get to the final shape, we start to do the test of assembly for our client. These panels are designed to be fit onto a metal support structure and fixed by screws and nuts. So the key is to make the holes and nut positions right and precise as the drawing expected.
The holes are drilled by the CNC process stated above, and the holes are good and ready for assembly by the work of our CNC engineer. For the nuts on the products are fixed onto the product by hot melting into a small plastic part(cut by CNC, and the small plastic part will be glued onto the panels. In order to get the nuts positions right and keep them consistent, we had the auxiliary wood board cut to help our worker locate the small plastic parts and do the gluing and drying. After that, we will recheck the measurements according to the drawing as well.
Actually, we are experienced in making such assemble products, we had done a lot of panels/covers/housing for robots, cars medical devices,s and machine panels/covers/housing and had the whole set assembled in our workshop.
Would like to share the video and photos of the projects we had done in the following google drive link for you to know us.
Our gluing and painting
For the product that required to have a higher surface quality or special visual effect, our painting workshop as the final step of the whole production process can satisfy the client’s special need, the painting working shop is mainly responsible for polishing the surface and then painting the surface of the plastic parts to have better quality like a piece of artwork.
In some cases, the whole assembled set is required to look like a whole piece and needs to hide the trace of gluing, gaps, and assemble. But products can not be vacuum formed at once as a whole part and they need to be glued after several separate parts are vacuum formed in order to reach how they are supposed to be looked like. (Examples shown in the following images)
For the client who is not familiar with our glue technique done by our assemble and painting workshop, they might think we glue products like the way we glue split shoes or paper at home. And they might be concerned about the strength of the connection. Please don’t be, the chemical we are using is not the same as paper gluing and it could dissolve the material of plastic and the material plastic would be joined together afterward just like it will reform to be a whole part.
Or they might be concerned that there is going to be a step after the sticking. Please take no worry about that, we can process of polish and paint on the product after that to eliminate the trace left behind. The following images is showing the effect of polish and paint on the product after we glue the parts together. As where the red arrow pointed, there was a trace of connecting and this is the effect of polishing and painting on it afterward. So, with all the work stated above, the trace can be eliminated by our professional work.
After the panels are done with the final step and ready to be shipped, we will have our experienced packing department evaluate on the packing method according to the structure of the product, and shipping method. The goal is the keep the products can get to our client safely and the volume of the package can be saved as much as we can, so the shipping cost can be saved for our client. For these 5 set panels, we decide to pack by wrapping every individual piece with foam, and customized wooden boxes for them So the parts can be most safe and avoid scratching between pieces and pieces, to avoid hurting on the surface during shipping.
Looking forward to your message for us
Through the description of the whole process and steps above, hope you feel more familiar with our tech and capability. If you have any other questions, thoughts, concerns, or inquiries, feel free to let us know and you can find our contact information on our web. Looking forward to your reaching out or message!
Ditaiplastic has been working in the field of vacuum forming since 1997 and today has more than 60 large production machines, more than 40 product patents, 80 employees, and a factory covering 12,000 square meters! It is one of the largest suppliers of vacuum forming in China! Kindly visit us at https://www.ditaiplastic.com contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp: +86 13825780422
Ditaiplastic wish you a great day!