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The Thermoforming Process Introduction

Thermoforming is a method of processing cast or extruded plastic sheet into finished parts up to 0.500 inch 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.

Advantages of Thermoforming

The thermoforming process offers multiple benefits over other common approaches to component manufacturing, including:

  • FAST production tooling available in as few as 2-3 weeks
  • Economical with significant savings of up to 90% of tooling costs in comparison to injection molding
  • Prototype tooling using cost effective molds
  • Tool and part modifications may be achieved quick and economical
  • Superior Aesthetics and Functionality
  • Able to maintain dimensional tolerances for part sizes as expansive as 6 feet x 10 feet
  • Compatible with a wide range of engineered thermoplastics
  • Flexible Ordering with short lead times
  • Ideal for small to medium sized part runs of 50 – 5000 pieces
  • Allows shipments to be conveniently scheduled to reduce inventory
  • Paint and gel coat replacement
  • Complicated metal and fiberglass conversions that offer both cost and weight reductions