Sports Car Tail Light Lens Cover Part 3: Production of Parts
Last week we discussed how we took the solid models from our reverse engineering process and crafted tools and fixtures to make parts.
This week we want to talk about the actual production of parts. First, a sheet of plastic is loaded into a drying oven set at 150 degrees for a couple of hours to help prevent air bubbles. This part must be cosmetically free of defects.
While the plastic is drying, we set up the mold for thermoforming. We set the timing and temp on the machine. Now we are ready to begin the forming process.
Prior to loading the plastic sheet into the thermoformer the operator must make sure the sheet is free of dust and debris of any kind. Once the parts are formed they are inspected for any imperfection (air bubbles/foreign matter). If the part looks good, it is air routed to remove the flange, bagged, and boxed for transport to the CNC Department for trimming on our 5 axis CNC router.
Prior to this point, a trimming program has been written by our CNC programmers in Mastercam. Once that program is sent to the router and the fixture has been installed, the operator can load a part for trimming.
Each sheet of plastic formed a right and a left side tail light cover. The trimming process separates the right from the left and cuts them to shape. Once the cycle is complete the operator cleans and inspects them for scratches and chips. If they look good, they are bagged and sent to the finishing department for flame polishing, clean up, and packaging.
The final part of this series next week will cover the finishing steps required to make this tail light lens cover into the high-end product the market requires.