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Plastic Thermoforming: Understanding The Process

In general, plastic thermoforming is a process by which plastic is heated and then formed into a specific shape. Of course, that’s just a basic definition and the process by which we create your custom thermoformed packaging and products is a bit more detailed and complicated.

At Indepak, we are a thin-gauge thermoforming company, working with materials that range in thickness from .008” to .080”. We also can thermoform foam that ranges in thickness from 1/16” up to ¼”.

Some of the materials we use include PET, PETG, HIPS, PVC, OPS, ABS, HDPE, PP and even some starch-based bio materials. The selection of materials for your plastic thermoforming project is an important part of the initial design process. We need to select a type of thermoplastic that fits within your budget, but also displays and protects your product to its best advantage.

Many industries also have very specialized product needs, such as creating business-to-business tote trays with anti-static properties for automation applications or perhaps creating low-particulate packaging for a medical company intended for downstream sterilization applications. Our design team takes all of this information into consideration prior to beginning the design process.

Once our team has created a design for your plastic thermoforming project and you have approved our design we will create a prototype or prototype parts for your evaluation before we move onto production. We create a special mold during this process, and the creation of this mold often is simply called tooling. Sometimes, we create a mold that includes several individual parts of your plastic thermoforming project and sometimes we create several molds.

This mold is what we form the thermoplastic to during the thermoforming process. We heat a sheet of thermoplastic to a desired temperature in order to make it pliable and then, using pressure we form the thermoplastic into the desired shaped. Then the plastic is cooled and excess plastic is trimmed away. We use several different types of industrial thermoforming equipment for production and our wide variety of equipment allows us to have multiple lines running at one time. Our many pieces of equipment also allows us to provide a more customized solution for each of our customers.

Through plastic thermoforming, we can create virtually any type of package or container and even thermoplastic parts. We have created hundreds of unique thermoform trays for clients, as well as containers with lids, clamshell packaging, blister packs and much more. No matter what type of thin-gauge plastic thermoforming you need, the team at Indepak is here to help.

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