what is thermoforming?


Thermoforming is a manufacturing process where a plastic sheet is heated to a pliable forming temperature, formed to a specific shape in a mold, and trimmed to create a usable product. The sheet, or “film” when referring to thinner gauges and certain material types, is heated in an oven to a high-enough temperature that it can be stretched into or onto a mold and cooled to a finished shape.

thermoforming process for reference

Thermoforming differs from injection molding, blow molding, rotational molding, and other forms of processing plastics. Thin-gauge thermoforming is primarily the manufacture of disposable cups, containers, lids, trays such as plastic egg tray machine, blisters, clamshells, and other products for the food(fast food box forming machine), medical, and general retail industries.


Recycle of thermoforming industry:

Most thermoforming companies recycle their scrap and waste plastic, either by compressing in a baling machine or by feeding into a granulator (grinder) and producing ground flake, for sale to reprocessing companies or re-use in their own facility. Frequently, scrap and waste plastic from the thermoforming process is converted back into extruded sheet for forming again.

Kinds of thermoforming:

There are two general thermoforming process categories. Sheet thickness less than 1.5 mm (0.060 inches) is usually delivered to the thermoforming machine from rolls or from a sheet extruder and hydraulic cutting machine. Thin-gauge roll-fed or inline extruded thermoforming applications are dominated by rigid or semi-rigid disposable packaging. Sheet thicknesses greater than 3 mm (0.120 inches) is usually delivered to the plastic forming machine by hand or an auto-feed method already cut to final dimensions. Heavy, or thick-gauge, cut sheet thermoforming applications are primarily used as permanent structural components. There is a small but growing medium gauge market that forms sheet 1.5 mm to 3 mm in thickness.

Thermoforming Market:

The more than USD10 billion North American market has traditionally been ¾ thin gauge and ¼ heavy gauge. In 2003 there were about 150 thin gauge thermoformers in North America. Sixty percent formed proprietary products. Thirty percent were custom formers and 10 percent were OEMs with in-house forming capability. There were nearly a dozen thin-gauge formers having annual sales of at least USD100 million. The largest had annual sales in excess of USD1,000 million. There were about 250 heavy gauge formers in North America. Nearly all were custom formers. Only two or three heavy gauge formers had annual sales of more than USD100million. The largest had annual sales of about USD140 million

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