What is Thermoforming?

Thermoforming is a plastic fabricating process which involves heating sheet plastic and forming it over a male or female mold. The two basic types of thermoforming processes – vacuum forming and pressure forming – and derivative processes, such as twin sheet thermoforming, make plastic thermoforming a broad and diverse plastic forming process. Thermoformed plastics are ideally suited for automotive, consumer products, packaging, retail and display, sports and leisure, electronics, and industrial applications.


The most advantageous aspects of thermoforming are its low tooling and engineering costs and fast turnaround time which makes thermoforming or vacuum forming ideal for prototype development and low-volume production.


Advantages of the Thermoforming Plastic Sheet Process


  • Extremely adaptive to customer design needs
  • Rapid prototyping development
  • Material and process is optimized for cost effectiveness
  • High-speed production allows for just-in-time shipments
  • Flexible tooling design offers a competitive advantage
  • On-the-fly product enhancements with low additional costs
  • Visually pleasing appearance
  • Weight savings for consumer and manufacturer
  • Wider design scope
  • Lower tooling costs
  • No anticorrosion spray necessary
  • Paintable and colored plastic availability
  • Fully integrated process with limitless flexibility
  • For small to large product designs


Thermoforming Vs. Injection Molding – How to Choose?


Thermoforming is a plastic process which heats a thermoplastic sheet and uses vacuum and, or pressure to form the plastic sheet into three dimension products or shapes. Thermoforming is a single sided process where only one side of the sheet can be controlled by the tool surface. Finished wall thickness is mainly determined by the design of the product part.


Thermoforming is often utilized for production quantities of 100 to 8000 annually, offering lower tooling costs, rapid product development cycles, and parts with color and texture. However, there are times where other plastic manufacturing processes such as plastic injection molding are a better choice. These types of circumstances may include the need for high volumes and very complex, detailed product designs. Vacuum forming is a plastic thermoforming process that involves forming thermoplastic sheets into three-dimensional shapes through the application of heat and pressure.


In general terms, vacuum forming refers to all sheet forming methods, including drape forming, which is one of the most popular. Basically during vacuum forming processes, plastic material is heated until it becomes pliable, and then it is placed over a mold and drawn in by a vacuum until it takes on the desired shape.


In conclusion, thermoformed products (whether vacuum forming, pressure forming or twin sheet forming) can be virtually indistinguishable from injection molded products. Most importantly, thermoforming has less set up and lead time, so it is extremely ideal for project designs and market concepts that require the manufacturing processed to be quick.


However, again, the cost advantage of a thermoformed part or design compared with injection molding in the end depends on the quantity to be produced.


If you have any interest in thermoforming plastic sheet suppliers, I recommend that you can visit Marathon Enterprise Co., Ltd. – the company specializes in vacuum forming plastic process. Get more details, welcome to check out their website and feel free to contact with Marathon.



Article Source: