What is Thermoforming?


Thermoforming is the process by which a thermoplastic sheet is heated to its softening point. The sheet is subsequently stretched across a single-sided mold and manipulated into a specific shape. Then, it cools down in the form of said shape.

The most common ways to get a sheet to conform to the desired shape are pressure forming, vacuum forming, and mechanical forming. Thermoforming has virtually limitless applications and can be used by many different industries. Here is all you need to know about thermoforming, its benefits, and its applications.

Stages of Thermoforming

As with any process, there are several stages to the process of thermoforming. The typical thermoforming process is as such:

  1. Design
  2. Prototyping
  3. Final tooling
  4. Production
  5. Shipping

Equipment Used for Thermoforming

The thermoforming process requires quite a few pieces of equipment. The forming process requires either pressure or vacuum formers. Additionally, it requires a three- or four-station Rotary Transformer. Pro Design Group

The second part of the process requires CNC robotic routers. These routers are used to quickly separate material with high efficiency. Robotic tooling can be particularly effective here because of the danger that is associated with using such materials and tools, and the velocity that they are operating at. Without robotic routing, there’s a much higher potential for significant harm to the operator.

The tooling process requires machine aluminum molds, cast aluminum molds, composite or temporary molds, or male/female molds.

Advantages of Thermoforming

There are many advantages to thermoforming that make it a preferable process over other types of molding. Some of these advantages include:

  • The ability to create several finished parts from the same material
  • It allows for the detection of possible design and fit issues before it is too late
  • Amount of time and money saved over time
  • It is beneficial when using large parts

Benefits of Thermoforming

The thermoforming process offers many benefits to both the manufacturer and consumer. Some of these benefits include:

  • Efficient
  • Cost-effective
  • Short lead time
  • Easy to add details
  • Freedom of design

Thermoform Applications

The thermoforming process can be used in a wide variety of applications as well. Some of the most common ones include but are not limited to:

  • Retail clamshell packaging
  • Packaging blisters
  • Pick and place trays
  • Material and handling trays and covers
  • Shipping trays
  • Medical packaging
  • Pop displays
  • Packaging inserts

Overall, thermoforming can be a complicated process, which is why we’re here to help. For further questions, give us a call and start a conversation. Any questions you may have with thermoforming and the process required to begin working will be met with high-quality service and consultation. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

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