PCI Handles the Thermoforming Jobs Others Can't

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2 Minutes Read

Sometimes, you have to ask the experts to get the tough jobs done.

2024-04-11 12.45.49 (1)When Purdue Solar Racing found their forming partner unable to meet the rigorous demands of a crucial project, they turned to PCI. The task at hand was formidable: creating a large, transparent, and lightweight window for a solar car, a component essential for the vehicle's efficiency and performance.

This wasn't just any thermoforming task; it required precision, expertise, and the right equipment.

The application was demanding. The part needed to be both tough and lightweight, transparent, and designed to fit a complex shape. Thermoforming such a component is not a task for the inexperienced. The complexity of the part demanded a deep understanding of materials, tooling, and production techniques.

The design phase had already been completed by Purdue Solar. Upon receiving the design, PCI's team conducted a thorough review to verify compatibility with their equipment. This step was crucial to ensure that the existing design could seamlessly integrate into PCI's thermoforming process without compromising quality or functionality.

2024-04-11 13.42.15 (1)Tooling for this project was created using a laminated tooling board material crafted by the Purdue team. PCI provided critical guidance on building the mold to work effectively with their equipment. The collaboration ensured that the tooling met the necessary specifications and could withstand the pressures of the thermoforming process. The hands-on approach and open communication between PCI and Purdue Solar were vital in overcoming initial tooling challenges.

Choosing the right material was paramount. For this application, UV-stabilized polycarbonate was selected. This material offers exceptional toughness and clarity, essential for a transparent window in a solar car. Its UV stabilization ensures long-term durability, preventing degradation from prolonged exposure to sunlight.

The choice of polycarbonate was a key factor in meeting the stringent performance requirements of the part.

One significant reason PCI could tackle this project was its state-of-the-art production equipment. The thermoforming machine used for this project boasts a capacity to form sheet sizes up to 6’x10’ and can support a part size nearly 3 feet deep. This extensive capacity was critical for forming the large and complex shape required for the solar car window.

The machine's ability to handle such dimensions precisely highlighted PCI's capability to take on challenging projects that other companies might shy away from.

Despite the challenges, PCI's team eagerly embraced the opportunity to showcase their expertise. They successfully produced the part through meticulous planning, collaboration, and advanced equipment. The result was a tough, lightweight, transparent window that met Purdue Solar's requirements.

PCI helped Purdue Solar Racing produce the windshield for its next-generation solar race car in time for them to enter the Innovators Educational Foundation (American Solar Challenge & Formula Sun Grand Prix).

2024-04-11 13.44.57 (1)The successful completion of this project underscores the importance of expertise and the right equipment in thermoforming complex parts.

Turning to experts like PCI can make the difference between success and failure when faced with challenging applications. Our experience, technical know-how, and state-of-the-art equipment enabled them to deliver a solution that met and exceeded expectations.

This project is a testament to PCI's ability to tackle tough jobs and deliver high-quality results.

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