Thermoforming of foam sheet


Akkerman, Remko and Pronk, Ruud M. (1997) Thermoforming of foam sheet. In: Polymer Processing Society, PPS Conference '97, Europe/Africa Region Meeting, 19-21 August 1997, Gothenburg, Sweden.

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Abstract:Thermoforming is a widely used process for the manufacture of foam sheet products. Polystyrene foam food trays for instance can be produced by first heating the thermoplastic foam sheet, causing the gas contained to build up pressure and expand, after which a vacuum pressure can be applied to draw the sheet in the required form on the mould. This production method appears to be a very sensitive process with respect to e.g. the sheet temperature, the pressures applied and the cooling time. More problems can be foreseen when for environmental reasons the blowing agent will be adapted (for instance replaced by a gas with a lower molecular weight). To gain more insight in the occuring phenomena the large deformations of a foam structure have been analysed using finite element modelling. To this end a constitutive model has to be defined. Starting from the basic theory given by Gibson & Ashby [1], the behaviour of a closed cubic cell has been elaborated for large strains. The total stiffness is then the sum of the contributions of the edges and faces of the cell and the gas contained in it. The large deformations cause anisotropy of the cells [2], which influences their tangential stiffness. The constitutive model developed here includes the effects of internal gas pressure and the evolving anisotropy.
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