Ever since plastics really started being used heavily in manufacturing in the 1950s, there has been a constant drive with regard to what else can be formed with a malleable resource. Many of the latest designs and products being fabricated in mass assembly systems involve thermoforming, an ideal approach for custom form production that produces thicknesses on par with other materials but is lighter and less costly.
One of the big advantages of thermoforming capacity involves how big the parts can be that are produced. It’s quite possible to handle production dimensions in the range of 8 and 9 feet in length and width as well as thicknesses up to 0.45 inches. Because the tooling is integrated, personnel involved train easily and comprehensively, which allows them to spend more time finessing the production quality than losing hours on retooling. Large orders are not a challenge either. Most producers who have fully engaged with thermoforming production are working with sizable activity space in their facilities.
Flexibility in Design and Qualities
The additional benefit of thermoforming production comes in the range of possibilities it can produce. Depending on the client’s specifications, a heavy gauge thermoforming company can address a variety of order variations. It’s quite possible to produce parts that excel in rigidity versus flexibility, weight, impact strength, sun and weather resistance, color, texture, temperature tolerances, and more. While there are certain combinations that are used more often, which become the “standard” packages offered, clients should definitely consider the performance potential of different choices before locking down an order with one specification set.
Different Applications by Industry
Thermoforming has continued to be a game changer for multiple industries, especially in regard to finding ways to produce the same strength or better parts and producing them with lower cost, higher runs, or greater performance life. Given how many options are available, it’s not a surprise how many different components, parts, and assemblies over time have been replaced from their original organic form to now the latest designs in formed plastics.
- Automotive Applications – Probably one of the biggest users of thermoformed plastics, car manufacturers have relied heavily on durable plastics for many of the internal fixtures and forms for door bodies, dashboards, central consoles, knobs, handles, and even bumpers. A large amount of body parts and components on recreational vehicles, vessels, and similar involve formed plastics.
- Medical Equipment – With the need for durable materials that are easy to clean and non-absorbent to reduce the risk of cross-contamination in hospital settings, medical equipment has moved heavily into plastics, especially for durable covers, protective packaging, durable equipment consoles, panel units, hospital furniture and more.
- Construction, Agriculture, and Industrial Settings – Both of these industries need durable equipment that can handle heavy use and long-term applications. Thermoformed plastics have been ideal for assemblies used in furniture and fixture controls, handles, knobs, gears, levers, internal assemblies, containers, storage and more. For the farming industry in particular, plastics have been ideal for animal stock containers, feed and seed equipment, equipment assemblies, and cattle containment.
- Furniture – Old school and office chairs have since been upgraded from the metal and wood chairs used decades ago. Today’s school and office furniture utilizes formed plastic contoured for easier sitting, stronger framing, durability, and added position capabilities. Given the lower cost, the same furniture has also been built with more capabilities as well, including headrests, controls, and handles. A good amount of multi-industry equipment can include containment, platforms, tables, trays, shelving, cylinder and tubing, specialized conveyor equipment, and automation supplies.
Again, plastics have come a long way from where they were in the initial boomer production rush of the 1950s and 60s. And, unlike the brittle, tinny forms that didn’t last very long back then, today’s injection molding company products are incredibly strong and lasting, even in exposed conditions. For clients looking for additional ways to meeting production needs beyond organic materials or labor-intense process, modern thermoforming should definitely be considered. It can be a paradigm change for a manufacturer, especially when applying a new assembly line process for a new product or line of parts.