Thermoforming is a process of heating thermoplastic sheet and placing it over a mold until cooled. The thickness of the material determines whether the manufacturing process uses rolled sheets (thin gauge) or pre-cut stacked sheets (heavy gauge). Thin gauge material is dominant in the disposable packaging sector, especially in the retail markets. Heavy or thick gauge material is commonly used as permanent components in such things as refrigerators, automobiles and spas to name a few. To learn more about the plastic thermoforming process, click here.
Thermoformed packaging trays can be a single hinged part or as simple as an opened, flat-bottom tray. In some cases, a two-part thermoformed design not only functions to stow specific shapes for individualized items, but serves to keep the items in place with a thermoformed lid. In the image on the right, the raised components fit securely in the bottom tray, but the top tray is lowered into place covering and giving added protection to the raised contents. Using the packaging tray in this image, a consumer good was safely packaged and transported to retail shelves.
Thermoformed packaging trays can be as simple as an opened, flat-bottom tray or designed and formed to specific shapes for containing individual items. By definition, a tray helps to contain or transport items and this applies to the industrial sector as well as to consumer goods. Using the packaging tray in this image, an industrial component is stored and transported through an assembly line.
Thermoforming is an inexpensive way to mask a product before painting and other low-temperature masking applications. It is especially effective on large and odd shaped parts.
Thermoformed caps are lightweight and can be made of varying diameters and lengths.
PVC, PETG, and PET are the most commonly used thermoforming materials.