The right materials for the task
Hopefully you enjoyed our 6 things you should know about your Design Technology materials and that it inspired you to try something a bit different. While these are great things to know about the materials you regularly use, it’s also important to make sure you can choose the correct material for your chosen project.
High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) vacuum forming sheets
HIPS is a great versatile and economical plastic easy to form. Last time, we spoke about using sublimation printing with vacuum forming sheets. It is important to note that with standard sheets of HIPS, sublimation printing is problematic with the softened surface becoming too ‘tacky’ making the sublimation paper stick. This is where our special vacuum forming sheets for sublimation come in. They are a PVC based material meaning they take a sublimation print and form fantastically well.
Don’t waste time and materials, pick up these vacuum forming sublimation sheets.
You can still use standard HIPS for all of your other vacuum forming projects, including the chocolate moulds we mentioned. Just remember to use virgin grade material when working with food as it is food grade. We stock a complete range of HIPS in varying colours and thicknesses plus sheet sizes to ensure compatibility with the most popular vacuum formers.
MDF has become a popular material for fabrication in school and at home due to it being versatile, easy to work with and low cost. Some MDF uses urea-formaldehyde resin to bind the material and although considered a hazardous substance, the level of formaldehyde in EU standard E1 grade material is considered insignificant. You may have come across Medite, which is a brand of MDF containing no additional formaldehyde, offering a much lower count all together. This grade is recommended for use on laser cutters giving a much better finish although it is more expensive than low formaldehyde MDF.
We conveniently stock both types, whatever your application and budget and all of our low formaldehyde MDF is E1 grade.
We’ve talked before about the two main variants of acrylic sheet, cast and extruded. The main differences being how they are manufactured with extruded acrylic forced through a roller to create a sheet and cast is moulded which gives you a more nominal thickness. Previously we covered the possibility of vacuum forming extruded acrylic (not possible with cast) which can give you some great looking forms. There is, however, a good amount of preparation to be done with the sheet requiring drying before it can be formed.
Cast sheet is a preferred choice for laser cutting and machining, as it is much more scratch resistant, much better for engraving and extruded acrylic’s low thermal stability means it tends to melt and affect the cutting tools. While extruded also cuts very well on a laser, it can be prone to stress cracking afterwards, especially when also exposed to solvents.
We have a complete range of both acrylic types and currently have some great special offers on our money saving bulk packs.
Solar powered light with acrylic
(Courtesy of Jonathan Boyle, Madeley Academy)