To many people Solid Surface is simply considered an alternative to stone worktops - such as Granite and Marble. Combining the increased range of colours and finishes available, along with the seamless connections between surfaces.
However, what many do not realise is that, unlike Granite and Marble, which can only be machined in particular ways, Solid Surface, being based on Acrylic can be heated into a malleable state, to be shaped in either 2 or 3-dimensions (or a combination of both).
Thermoforming in 2D is principally where the sheet material is heated and formed in one direction. A good example of this is where you have an extended down stand / apron to a countertop - which needs to go around in a curved direction. Strips of solid surface material are cut to the appropriate lengths; heated in our custom Vacuum Platten Oven, and shaped accordingly once the material is pliable. Upon application the curved form can then be trimmed, jointed, and finished to provide a seamless appearance between curved and straight forms.
Thermoforming in 3D employs the bending of the solid surface in 3 directions at once, using a former or joinery carcass as the base to mould the material against in creating the finished form. 3D thermoforming is more intricate and specialist, however unlocks the ability to create unique and exceptionally creative shapes.
Thermoforming requires skill and precision. Once heated, like any object or surface, upon removal from the heat source there is a limited time frame until the material turns hard once more and cannot be effectively re-heated.
We achieve our outstanding results using a number of combined techniques. Through Computer-Aided Design, 3-D Modelling and Simulation using the latest technology we can pre-model and evaluate proposed forms. Using AlphaCAM and our Masterwood CNC we can produce intricate 3D formers with which the material can be applied using our custom 50 Tonne press. Once each component is manufactured our skilled fabricators can then joint and seam to create the final outcome. With our skill and expertise we have been given National trade awards recognising us as the 'Best UK Thermoforming Fabricator' for the past 2 years.
Any material has restrictions in terms of how 'far' it can be formed relating to the final radius. Generally the minimum internal radius achievable is 50mm, and there are some risks in using darker colours when thermoforming. Being composed partly from Acrylic Polymer, when stretched or placed under the stress of forming there is the chance that the point of stress will change colour, to white. This is a Striation, a reaction where, when either stressed and heated, parts of the molecular structure of the material can crystalise, changing colour in the process.
This isn't to say that you cannot use darker colours to thermoform unique shapes. As demonstrated in our case study gallery below this is more than possible. However we would recommend talking with us about your requirements to actively achieve your desired result.
For further information please read through our Thermoforming case studies below
Our involvement in this prestigious international project saw the production of a vast array of tightly formed black profile edges, at a 150mm diameter, from LG Hi-Macs 'Black'. This was employed across all display modules for the museum, consisting of over 400 linear metres of material. As 'Black' was the principle colour strict controls were put into place to maintain colour consistency to avoid different visual shading. This was achieved by using a bespoke aluminum water cooled pattern, enabling production time to be kept without any loss of quality.
In collaboration with a our client, West One Interiors Ltd - who designed and manufactured the steel supporting structure, BSF Solid Surfaces Ltd thermoformed and fabricated this unusual and complicated sculptured reception desk - which comprised 28 sheets of LG Hi-Macs 'Orange'
Two 3D reception counters were produced, manufactures from LG Hi-Macs 'Black Pearl', incorporating 40 sheets of material. Components were either CNC shaped or 3D thermoformed, using our 5 axis CNC where 10 working patterns were produced to be utilised with out bespoke 50 Tonne press.
Our specialised equipment, longstanding skills, craftsmen, and ability to innovate through technology allows BSF Solid Surfaces Ltd to undertake and achieve what many other fabricators view as the impossible.
The project requirements were for three complicated bars and three reception desks. All six items were constructed from a total of 16 different male and female formers, manufactured from MDF, and shaped on a 5 axis CNC. These formers were then used in our bespoke 50 Tonne press in order to create the complete geometry required, for final seaming and installation. All items were fabricated from Corian 'Glacier White'.
The reception of the museum has two 'boomerang' shaped reception tops, suspended on a metal frame. The tops were double-sided at a height of 150mm with a 150mm thermoformed profile edge around the perimeter. The shapes consisted or three different external radii, and two different internal radii. This was to the centre point of the top which, when the profile was mirrored, equalled the overall top length of 3000mm. These were manufactured from LG Hi-Macs 'Black'.
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