Joslyn Blog

The Thermoforming Process Explained

CNC-Milling-MachineIn its simplest form, the thermoforming process involves heating and molding a plastic sheet using vacuum or air pressure. 

  • Vacuum Forming: One of the most economical thermoforming technologies is vacuum forming. During the vacuum forming process, a vacuum pulls thermoplastic material against a mold to create a contoured surface.
  • Pressure Forming: When aesthetics are important, pressure forming is the best option. Pressure forming uses both a vacuum to pull thermoplastic material into the cavity of a mold and air pressure to push it tightly against the surface. The extra pressure allows the plastic to pick up precise detailing.

The thermoforming process offers many advantages over other manufacturing processes for crafting plastic parts, such as injection molding. These advantages include:

  • Design flexibility
  • Time to production
  • Lower tooling costs
  • Cost-efficiency for smaller production runs
  • Prototypes can be produced quickly and accurately

Here’s how the thermoforming process works:

1. Processing

We receive the plastic sheet – ordered to your specifications – from the extruder.

2. Forming

The plastic sheet is placed into the thermoformer and is heated to the perfect processing temperature. A vacuum pulls the sheet over or pushes the sheet into a mold. The cooled part is then removed from the mold.

3. Trimming

Formed parts are taken to a CNC machine where they are trimmed. Aside from perimeter trims, holes, slots and other cutouts are done at this time as well. A die set may be used to trim thin gauge parts, such as packaging.

4. Assembly

If required, trimmed parts are assembled with the required components to make a complete part. Secondary operations can include sonic welding, gluing and painting.

5. Shipping

We package your parts according to your requirements. Cosmetics are considered to ensure a good-looking part arrives at the final destination.

6. Delivery

Your preferred freight carrier is used when shipping finished goods. We can arrange for delivery to your facility or anywhere you specify.

High-Quality Thermoforming Plastic Products That Meet Your Specifications

Now that you know the steps involved in the thermoforming process, you can accomplish your goals and overcome your challenges on the job.

Whether you need to produce a traditional item or something cutting-edge, we have developed reliable, standardized procedures to ensure top-quality plastic products – and our established methods are proven. We create the appropriate tooling and fixtures to bring your products to life on time and on budget.

Rely on our thermoforming plastics expertise to bring your products to life on time and on budget. If you’re ready to turn your vision into reality, contact us today. 



Topics: Thermoforming, Vacuum Forming, trimming, Pressure Forming, plastic thermoforming

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