our range of technical films for thermoforming

What is a formable film?

Technical films are used for numerous graphic and industrial applications. They are often printed (often by screen printing) and then formed or thermoformed to create three-dimensional components. Forming is therefore an important and frequently used form of processing or machining plastic films. The process offers a high degree of flexibility in terms of shape and design. The ability to form a film depends directly on the material.

Materials and their malleability

Is every film formable? Can any formable film be printed? 

When choosing the right forming film for a three-dimensional component, the material plays a decisive role. This is how it can be determined: Not every film can be formed without problems and thus used for three-dimensional and complex components. Printability must also be ensured. Typical printing processes are screen or digital printing.

Moulding films made of polycarbonate and PMMA are most frequently used for the production of mouldable parts, panels and decorative elements. These versatile materials have different properties and must therefore be selected according to the application.

Heat-resistant polycarbonate films 

Polycarbonate films are particularly impact-resistant and mechanically resilient. In addition, they convince with their high temperature stability. They can be used at a continuous temperature of 105 degrees Celsius. For short periods, they can withstand temperatures of up to 160 degrees Celsius. They bond well, are extremely resistant and thus offer reliable durability for many years. In addition, they are self-adhesive, offer high quality and can be used in a variety of applications. Without a special coating, however, they are only suitable for outdoor use to a limited extent. This makes them a key product category for the selection of formable films. We offer our customers high-quality polycarbonate films from the leading brands Lexan and Makrofol.

PMMA film with high UV stability for outdoor use.

Crystal-clear films made of PMMA have the great advantage of particularly high UV stability. This makes the weather-resistant film solutions ideal for long-term outdoor applications where UV and solar radiation become a major burden. PMMA plastic films are also excellent for back injection moulding, as they form a very good bond with many types of plastic. This property is very important for many parts where film is back-moulded with other plastics, making it even more resilient. In terms of look and feel, these special films are also an ideal solution for various interior and exterior applications. They can be bonded just as well, offer good durability and are self-adhesive. In addition, they are extremely resistant and can be printed very well with both screen and digital printing.

Polyester films can only be formed to a limited extent. Therefore, PET is usually not the first choice when it comes to formable films for demanding processing. We are happy to assist you in choosing the right product for your project. We will be happy to advise you on the possible thicknesses, formats or a film cut. If you wish, we can also accompany you from the project idea to the order and beyond.

Types of formable films

There are two different basic techniques for forming formable films, which we would like to explain in more detail below. 

Thermoforming / Thermoforming / Thermoforming

Many different names are used for this type of forming. In practice, this process is often also referred to as vacuum deep-drawing, thermoforming, thermoforming or vacuum forming. 

This process is understood to be the forming of thermoplastics with the help of heat and vacuum.

In the thermoforming process, the sheet is first brought to the softening temperature by heating from both sides. As soon as the necessary core temperature is reached, the sheet is pulled over the thermoforming tool by means of negative pressure (vacuum). The forming film covers the tool and takes on its shape. Deep-drawn components therefore only form an exact contour on the tool side.

Many of our special films are ideal for thermoforming because they have a high melt strength and do not stick to the tools. Therefore, they can withstand the temperatures required for thermoforming.

Advantages of the thermoforming process: 

  • Cost-effective production of large-area moulded parts.
  • Low tooling costs offer cost advantages over other manufacturing processes for small and medium quantities.
  • The use of different starting materials is possible.
  • High flexibility 
  • High-quality surfaces

High-pressure forming

High-pressure moulding is part of the so-called FIM process (Film Insert Moulding). This process enables the production of plastic parts with decorated surfaces and integrated functionalities. In this process, a plastic film, which is usually decorated by printing on the reverse side, is moulded and contoured. It is then back-injected with other plastics. With so-called High Pressure Forming, complex 3D parts with different structures can be created.

Other names are also used for the process of Film Insert Molding (FIM), such as Mold Labeling (IML), In-Mold Film (IMF) or Insert Molding (INS). 

Advantages of high-pressure moulding at a glance:

  • Production of complex 3D moulded part geometries.
  • Free design through precise alignment and fine lines.
  • High scratch and chemical resistance of the surface.
  • Transfer of structures to both sides of the part

What surfaces do mouldable films have?

After selecting the right material for the application, the correct film type must be identified. Depending on the requirement, we recommend a different film type, colours, thicknesses or surfaces. 

We distinguish between a variety of surfaces and finishes:

  • Polished / polished
  • Polished / matt
  • Matt / matt

We also distinguish between various different matt looks, which are referred to as silk matt, velvet matt or dull matt. 

We will be happy to send you samples to help you choose the right foil surface.

Formable films and their use

But what are mouldable films really used for in practice? What can films be thermoformed for? Examples for applications of mouldable films are:

  • Various die-cut film parts for displays.
  • Decorative panels with touch keys.
  • Control modules.
  • Radar covers.
  • Decorative mouldings.
  • Rotary moulds for chocolate products.
  • Various mould and decorative elements.

These are just a few examples. The malleability allows unimagined possibilities of design and integration of functionality. Whether for indoor or outdoor use, you will find a suitable solution with us. You can order formable film solutions from us in various thicknesses, formats or cut to size.