Plastics Expert Reveals New Composite Materials Are Entering the Fabrication Industry – Part 1

NMR Technology (No Molds Required) is a technology Envision Plastics and Design uses to manufacture custom plastic panels, plastic electronic enclosures, displays and other plastic parts with no tooling or molds. NMR fits lower volume production needs which are the same volume levels as precision sheet metal fabricators typically are. Materials used include ABS, HIPS, polycarbonate and aluminum composite materials such as Dibond and Alupanel.

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ACM Panel

You can form the material by hand since the aluminum is thin and the polyethylene is slightly pliable. This could cut down on shipping expense as well since parts can be shipped flat and formed on site in the field or at the time of need at the OEM.

White Bear Lake, MN (PRWEB) March 11, 2014

Despite being leaders in No Molds Required Plastic Fabrication, Envision Plastics has looked beyond fabrication of common materials such as ABS, HIPS, Acrylic, Kydex, and Polycarbonate, to alternate materials, like Dibond, Alucabond, and Alupanel. These alternative materials fall under a category dubbed ACM - Aluminum Composite Materials.

ACMs contain two layers of thin aluminum which have a layer of polyethylene between them. Sheets of these materials come in various thicknesses, but most often 3mm (.118”) and 4mm (.157”) thick. The cap layers of aluminum (top and bottom) can be between .008 and .012 thick and the polyethylene makes up the rest of the overall thickness.

Fabrication of Aluminum Composite Materials is rather simple, but the right equipment is needed to route or punch it and be able to score it so only a portion of the material is removed, leaving the rest as formable. While there are numerous possibilities to the end use of the fabrication, forethought must be given to instill the correct manufacturing processes, equipment, and design to create a functional part.

The advantages of ACMs are numerous, but key areas would be:

  •     You can form the material by hand since the aluminum is thin and the polyethylene is slightly pliable. This could cut down on shipping expense as well since parts can be shipped flat and formed on site in the field or at the time of need at the OEM.
  •     The materials are durable. The composite nature and the element of aluminum makes it stronger than plastic.
  •     The material is light. It is much lighter than metal and lighter than some plastics of equivalent thickness.
  •     The surface is already finished or prepped for digital printing. Different finishes are available from simple painted white or black to a “brushed stainless” or “brushed aluminum” look.
  •     Final assembly of ACMs can be done with fasteners such as screws, rivets, and other basic means of fastening.
In the next part of this series, we will speak to where in the marketplace ACMs are most commonly used.


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