414-351-1000 / Toll Free: 888-611-0270 sales@genplas.com
Injection Molding vs Thermoforming

Injection Molding vs Thermoforming

General Plastics, Inc. is a premier manufacturer and supplier of thermoformed plastic components, offering pressure thermoforming, vacuum thermoforming, trimming and assembly value-added services.

Thermoforming is a method of processing cast or extruded plastic sheet into finished parts up to 0.500 inches thick.  The raw material is heated to its specific thermoforming temperature and immediately shaped to the desired configuration.  At processing temperatures, the material is very pliable, enabling it to be formed rapidly into exceptionally detailed components with a minimum of force.

Pressure is the key in forming the final parts.  That pressure can be either positive (pressure forming), or negative (vacuum forming), and is maintained until the part has cooled.  The processes can be utilized to mold a single part per cycle, or multiples/families of smaller parts per cycle.

Thermoforming is a single sided process with only one side of the sheet controlled by the tool surface. The best uses for thermoforming is when production quantities range from 250 to 5000 annually.  This process offers lower tooling costs, faster product development cycles, and can produce parts with color and texture.

Advantages of Thermoforming

  • Thermoforming tooling costs less in comparison to injection molding.
  • Prototype tooling using cost effective molds.
  • Thermoforming tooling is faster to produce – 6-8 weeks -vs- 12-20 weeks – which means your product is quicker to market.
  • Overall cost of a thermoformed part when tooling is amortized and may be significantly less over time.
  • Tooling is more adaptable to design changes. There is little to no maintenance on tooling and it does not wear out.
  • Thermoforming could maintain dimensional tolerances for part sizes as expansive as 6’ x 10’
  • There is less molded in stress and the end-product will not experience knit lines or sink marks (in a thermoformed part). This means that in many cases the aesthetics of a pressure formed part will exceed an injection molded part.
  • An etched texture in a pressure form tool will yield aesthetics challenging injection molding.
  • Allows shipments to be conveniently scheduled to reduce inventory.

Plastic injection molding can be used to make plastic parts for similar applications. Injection molding has a very high tooling cost, but for large quantities, the cost per part is less. Here are some points to consider in making your Injection Molding -vs- Thermoforming decisions.

  • Thermoforming is a single wall construction
  • Attachment points such as bosses and/or inserts must be done secondarily in thermoforming since it is a one-sided tooling process whereas injection molding these details are molded into the product.
  • It may be more cost effective to bond a metal bracket, which can act as a stiffener as well as an attachment point.
  • Thermoforming will yield a part with variable wall thickness which is based on part geometry as well as processing techniques. Another benefit of this feature is the part weight may be less, which means it is less costly to ship.

General Plastics, Inc. is your full-service thermoforming solution with more than 30 years of experience with expertise in the following applications:

  • Pressure forming (6’ x 10’)
  • Vacuum forming (6’ x 10’)
  • CNC & Robotic trimming
  • Full assembly and sourcing
  • Packaging and kitting
  • Prototype and production tooling
  • DFMA assistance
  • Design freedom for undercuts, texture and color

To discuss your Thermoforming needs, call General Plastics, 414-727-6855; Toll Free: (888) 611-0270 or email us sales@genplas.com.


After Delay, SPE will Honour Thermoformer of the Year

After Delay, SPE will Honour Thermoformer of the Year

March 18, 2018 by Canadian Plastics

One year late, the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Thermoforming Division will honour plastics industry veteran Robert Porsche as the 2017 Thermoformer of the Year. The award presentation was postponed from 2017 because of Hurricane Irma.

One year late, the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Thermoforming Division will honour plastics industry veteran Robert Porsche as the 2017 Thermoformer of the Year.

Robert Porsche

The award presentation was postponed from 2017 because of Hurricane Irma.

The presentation will take place during SPE’s Thermoforming Awards Dinner, held in conjunction with the 26thSPE Thermoforming Conference, September 24-26, 2018 at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel and the Fort Worth Convention Center. The dinner will take place on Tuesday, September 25, at AT&T Stadium.

The 2017 conference, scheduled for Orlando, Florida, was cancelled because of the hurricane.

Porsche began his thermoforming industry career working in sales for Profile Plastics in 1975.  In 1987, he purchased Milwaukee, Wis.-based General Plastics Inc., where he remains president and owner.  “When Mr. Porsche first purchased the company, General Plastics had eight-full-time employees housed in an 11,000 square-foot facility,” SPE said. “Under his leadership, General Plastics now has over 70 full-time employees, and expanded its facilities to a 93,000 square-foot building. Their modern facility contains a complete collection of the newest single station, rotary, and twin sheeting formers, as well as two three-axis and six five-axis CNC routers and the most advanced fully robotic trimming equipment.”

Along the way, Porsche has served in a variety of leadership roles as an SPE Thermoforming Division Board Member where he chaired the Finance, Machinery and Processing Committees in addition to two SPE Thermoforming Conferences.

General Plastics is an ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified, full service custom plastic thermoformer. The company manufactures products for the bus, rail, truck, marine, office, lavatory, medical, health and wellness, gaming, arcade, food and beverage, construction, and machine guarding industries.

In 2014, General Plastics was presented with the Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year Award in the small business category and was nominated for the award again last year.


General Plastics Building Expansion

General Plastics Building Expansion

General Plastics recently completed an expansion of the plant’s original 9000-square-foot space to expand employee working, meeting and eating environments.  While the immediate benefits of the renovation are employee related, the value-added benefits that will be achieved upon its completion are customer-focused.

The renovation includes:

Twelve new offices

Training Center with interactive software

Conference Room

Expanded tooling and maintenance

Expanded employee lunch room

Added quality control checkpoints

In providing more space for training and by expanding areas such as tooling and maintenance there is a natural improvement in the work flow process, provides more space for the fixing and tuning and achieves greater efficiencies at the prepping station and improves the company’s communication and productivity.  These improvements combined, lead to faster turn-around times and a higher level of customer satisfaction.

The greatest customer-related benefit of this renovation is the plant’s added quality control checkpoints. Customers are required to meet industry-specific quality standards, the plant’s addition of more quality checkpoints, help ensure that these industry-specific quality standards are met.

The expansion also reduces scrap material, which is a positive impact on the company’s sustainability and stewardship strategic goals.

The renovation began in mid-May 2017 and was completed in December 2017.


General Plastics Achievements: A Year in Review

General Plastics Achievements: A Year in Review

With a culture strategically focused on investing in innovation, sustainability and growth, it should come as no surprise that General Plastics has earned some recognition. In 2016 the company earned the following awards.

2016 AND 2017 Milwaukee’s Future 50 Program award. This was the second consecutive year that General Plastics also earned this award.

2017 Sustainability Business Process Award from Wisconsin Business Council. According to the Wisconsin Business Council, sustainable businesses are constantly seeking ways to run more efficiently and reduce costs associated with producing their product or service.  Whether the focus is on energy efficiency, materials efficiency, or employee productivity, process improvements can create triple bottom line benefits.

2016 Manufacturer of the Year the Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year Award celebrates the successes of manufacturers in the state: their innovations, philanthropy, technological advances, commitment to customer satisfaction, and quality jobs.

2016 Plastics News Processor of the Year Candidates for this award are evaluated on seven criteria: financial performance, quality, customer relations, employee relations, environmental performance, industry/public service and technological innovation.

2017 Plastics Inc. of Milwaukee names Thermoformer of the Year Robert Porsche was awarded the Plastics Inc. of Milwaukee’s Society of Plastics Engineers the Thermorfermer of the Year. Porsche has been active in the Thermoforming Division for many years. He is the chair of the finance committee; co-chaired two Thermoforming Conferences (including last year’s) and his company supports the parts competition. He is a prior winner of the Division of Outstanding Achievement Award and has served as a speaker and moderator on heavy-gauge technical sessions. “Bob’s leadership in a variety of roles has contributed greatly to the division’s success,” said Bret Joslyn, chairman of the SPE Thermoforming Division.

2017 Central City Business Award General Plastics was awarded Small Company category. During the awards ceremony it was said, “By investing in General Plastics Inc., owner Bob Porsche also has invested in his employees’ futures and the future of manufacturing.” The Central City Business Awards salute the spirit of entrepreneurship, growth and optimism for the future. The award is in recognition of entrepreneurs and commercial enterprises whose contributions toward growth, expansion and prosperity are making a difference in Milwaukee’s central city.


General Plastics, Inc. Awarded 2017 Future 50 Award

General Plastics, Inc. Awarded 2017 Future 50 Award

Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and its Council of Small Business Executives (MMAC/COSBE) awarded General Plastics, Inc. the 2017 Future 50 Award during the 30th Annual Awards Luncheon held on Friday, September 22. General Plastics, Inc also won the Future 50 award in 2016.

“We are very proud to receive this award for two consecutive years.  This is a tangible affirmation of our corporate core values and serves in boosting our incentive for and enthusiasm in our ongoing goals to grow through continuous improvement, advanced technology and innovation,” said Bob Porsche, Owner and President, General Plastics, Inc.

The Future 50 Program recognizes privately-owned companies in the seven-county region that have been in business for at least three years and have shown significant revenue and employment growth. The program was begun 30 years ago to recognize the outstanding achievements of local, fast-growing entrepreneurs.


GENERAL PLASTICS, INC. Wins Sustainable Process Award

GENERAL PLASTICS, INC. Wins Sustainable Process Award

The Wisconsin Sustainability Business Awards committee recently informed General Plastics, Inc. that the company has won the 2017 Sustainability Business Process Award.

According to the Wisconsin Business Council, sustainable businesses are constantly seeking ways to run more efficiently and reduce costs associated with producing their product or service.  Whether the focus is on energy efficiency, materials efficiency, or employee productivity, process improvements can create triple bottom line benefits.

The Sustainable Process award is designed to recognize companies who are:

  • Implementing process improvement that save energy or time
  • Improving logistics and transportation options
  • Investing in research and development using sustainability criteria
  • Developing procurement criteria that reward sustainability in suppliers
  • Influencing customers to think of sustainable business practices in their purchasing decisions
  • Introducing lean or world class manufacturing principles into the company

Of the many entries in a highly competitive and deserving field, only one could win and General Plastics was selected as the Sustainable Process of the Year Award Winner. According to Tom Eggert, Wisconsin Sustainability Sustainable Business Awards Committee,

“We had a number of great nominations, and I’m amazed at the great things that are being done in businesses across the state by people who are super committed to sustainability.”

The award was presented to General Plastics during the Awards Ceremony, on June 23, at InPro Corporation in Muskego.