Hello, this is my first post, and looking through the forums I have come across some very good info. What I was wondering is if I can use thermoforming for a form I have created which is quite large. It is basically a long tetrahedron (I'm not sure if that is the correct name) with the dimensions of 52" long, 16" high and 10" deep. Since I am a student and I do not have a lot of extra cash for injection molding and I do need quite a few of my designs, so I figured that thermoforming would be the best way to go about it.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Welcome to the Zone Scott.
Before anyone can give advice on the feasibility of thermal forming the part. I'd suggest you post a model, drawing or picture of the part.
The physical size of the form makes it rather expensive in that this will take the major portion of a full sheet 48"x96" for each part. There are 60" x 144" sheets, but they get even more expensive although the part yield is higher. Material thickness plays into the price as well as whether it is realistic to form being to thick or too thin. PVC or Styrene would be your cheapest option.
Do you have a machine or service available to you locally? Can you make your own tool to form this part on?
Local vacuum forming facilities are going to charge a hefty fee just to setup the machine. Some might give a student discount, but the part price for small quantities are staggering. It can take several trial sheets just to get a usable part to your expectations. Just as a guess, I'd gather for a few parts the cost to be $500-1000 between material and shop time. That does not include any tooling or mounting charges, if any are required. The cost of the materials for the tool itself may run up to $500. Depends on how resourceful and persuasive you can be.
Once you finalize your part design, presuming it is formable. Talk to a few of the local forming shops to see if they will give you direction on the tooling, mounting and base. Whatever you can do on your own before handing it off to them, will save your cash outlay in the end.
Learn cause and effect through experience. Mastering those relationships is the "Common Sense" ability within the art of any trade.