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[Join our Free Technical Webinar] Introduction to TPO and its Advantages

Please join a complimentary webinar on OCT 27th @ 11am hosted by SIMONA PMC and Productive Plastics on the technical and cost advantages of TPO over metal and fiberglass for your applications. Explore the wide range of TPO grades available for performance or aesthetics, comparisons, case studies, details on designing for plastic thermoforming, and more!

What to Expect in this Webinar:

  • Introduction to TPO
  • Overview of the different grades of TPO, where each is used and why
  • Guidance for converting to TPO from fiberglass, gelcoat or metal
  • Advantages of using TPO in high heat applications
  • Application case studies
  • Cost comparisons
  • Material performance data 
  • Plastic thermoforming design and technical considerations
  • Moderated Q&A session
  • Complimentary Plastic Thermoforming Design Guide & Metal to Plastic Thermoforming Comparison and Conversion Guide digital downloads

Productive Plastics Exhibiting at Design-2-Part Uncasville CT June 23 & 24

Productive Plastics is excited to be exhibiting again at Design-2-Part this year. If you or any of your team will be attending the Design-2-Part show in Uncasville CT on June 23 & 24, please stop by our booths (314 & 316). Talk plastic thermoforming with our experts and get hands on with a selection of our thermoformed parts and multi-part assembly samples from solutions provided to medical device, kiosk, material handling, and other industries. Our team will be at your disposal to discuss how Productive Plastics and plastic thermoforming can add to the success of your next project.

Visit us at Booths 314 & 316

  • Advantages of heavy gauge plastic thermoforming
  • Thermoplastic material options and performance
  • Design and tooling capabilities
  • Conversions from metal, fiberglass, or injection molding processes
  • Industry applications and standards compliance
  • Assembly and surface finishing value added operations

We hope to see you at the show!

Registration for the event is free

Use your mouse to rotate and interact with feature callouts on the plastic thermoformed kiosk fascia below

Webinar Recording Available: Replacing Metal with Thermoformed Plastics

If you were unable to attend our technical webinar last week on replacing metal with thermoformed plastics, a recording of the live event is now available below and on our YouTube channel.

Technical Webinar Content

  • Cost comparisons
  • Design capabilities
  • Material performance
  • Pro tips on how to maximize your design for thermoforming
  • Sheet metal to plastic thermoforminng conversion case study
  • Moderated Q&A session


Stay tuned for future technical plastic thermoforming webinars from Productive Plastics

The Thermoforming Design Guide and Metal to Plastic Comparison and Conversion Guide, both featured in our recent webinar, can be downloaded via our technical library

Join our Free Technical Webinar – Replacing Metal with Thermoformed Plastics

Join us on May 12th at 2pm and our Chief Operations Officer, Evan Gilham, will teach you the ins and outs of the plastic thermoforming process and how it compares to steel and sheet metal fabricated designs.

Gain the technical knowledge to accurately evaluate if your sheet metal design is a prime candidate for plastic thermoforming.

Discover if converting to a plastic thermoforming design would reduce costs, increase material performance, or present enhanced design capabilities for your application.

Evan will cover some key topics and comparisons between the two processes:

  • Cost comparisons
  • Design capabilities
  • Material performance
  • Pro tips on how to maximize your design for thermoforming
  • Sheet metal to plastic thermoforminng conversion case study
  • Moderated Q&A session
  • Technical thermoforming guides available for download post

Introducing the New productiveplastics.com

The newly improved website features new graphics and images, a wider desktop browser experience, better mobile viewing, and improved usability. Changes include interactive thermoformed plastic part images, updated and expanded plastic thermoforming content, industry specific thermoforming pages, and technical information.

The new website continues to feature the Productive Ideas blog with its ongoing commentary on thermoforming technology issues. Four technical guides are also available to download:

  • Heavy Gauge Plastic Thermoforming Process and Design Guide
  • Fiberglass to Plastic Thermoforming Comparison and Conversion Guide
  • Metal to Plastic Thermoforming Comparison and Conversion Guide
  • Injection Molding to Plastic Thermoforming Comparison and Conversion Guide

Manufacturing the Team to Provide you with the Best Plastic Thermoforming Solutions

I am pleased to announce the addition of Cody Brewer as our Business Development Manager to the team at Productive Plastics.

Cody has over 7 years of experience in the process engineering and sales industry, with the greater part of his career invested in manufacturing process improvements and supporting production and engineering operations. His diverse experience in disciplines paramount to our industry enable Cody to provide insight and guidance to customers during the entire development process; from product design to finished components in your hands.

Cody will be working closely with myself and the rest of the Productive Plastics team to bring you the highest level of service, quality manufacturing, product development, and rapid solutions for the production of custom plastic thermoformed components and assemblies.

I invite you to connect with Cody to discuss how Productive Plastics can contribute to your project’s success.

Regards,
John Zerillo
VP Sales | Productive Plastics

Cody Brewer
Business Development Manager
Productive Plastics
103 West Park Dr
Mt Laurel NJ, 08054
Cell: 1-(609)-280-0040
Office: 1-(856)-778-4300 Ext. 202
E-Mail:CBrewer@Productivecompanies.com

Weighing in on Product Material Selection – Plastic, Metal, or Fiberglass

Regardless of the industry your product serves, whether it includes seating components or wall paneling for  bus, rail, or aircraft, requires enclosures or parts for medical devices, or is designed with exterior casings for industrial equipment and electrical components, lightweight material has become essential to creating the ideal product that meets the needs of the end user.

Lightweight offers numerous advantages

Reduced fuel and energy costs – mass of a vehicle has a direct relationship to fuel and energy consumption

Lowered emissions – reduced fuel and energy consumption equates to lower emissions

Reduced maintenance costs – reduction in mass correlates to longer life of components due to less load bearing stress over time (moving and mechanical components, brakes, tires, propulsion systems)

Reduced logistical costs – lighter weight parts are less expensive and easier to install, ship, relocate, or handle

Weight Comparison – Thermoplastic, Fiberglass, and Metal

Lower material specific gravity (mass) means the finished component will be lighter and contribute to a lower overall product weight. There are countless variations and formulations of thermoplastic, fiberglass, and metal materials, each with its own unique specific gravity (details can be found on material manufacturers’ websites and material data sheets). However, if you look at the average weight of some of the most common brands and types of materials available, you can derive some basic comparisons.

Plastic thermoformed parts are 6 times lighter than steel and half the weight of aluminum.

Plastic thermoformed parts are 30 – 40% lighter than fiberglass counterparts.

thermoplastic, metal, and fiberglass average specific gravity and weight comparisson

If reducing your product’s weight is an important factor in your industry, then thermoplastic and the thermoforming process should be a consideration for your current or future projects.

Please download our complimentary material – process comparison guides and conversion guides — for more information. They are full of data that is valuable to decision makers, design engineers and every member of an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) project team

Productive Plastics is more than just a plastic thermoforming manufacturer. We strive to be your advisor throughout the entire product development process by bringing over 60 years of process, design, material, and finishing expertise to assist in manufacturing your component parts and products in the best and lightest way. Contact Us for further assistance or to request a quote.

Heavy vs thin gauge plastic thermoforming – what’s the difference?

The dimensional difference between heavy gauge thermoforming (sometimes referred to as thick gauge or sheet fed thermoforming ) and thin gauge (also referred to as roll fed) thermoforming may only start as a few tenths of an inch in part thickness, but the manufacturing techniques, machinery required, and scope of applications that the two are best suited for are quite distinct from one another.

Additionally, because the machinery required is unique for each process category, most plastic thermoforming manufacturers specialize in only one or the other. For instance, Productive Plastics is a custom heavy gauge plastic thermoforming manufacturer. So, you can save some time when searching for a processor if you know which category of thermoforming is the right solution for your application.

Here are the essential differences between heavy and thin gauge plastic thermoforming:

Plastic Thermoforming Heavy Gauge Thin Gauge
Manufactured Part Thickness (approximate) .060 -.375″ 1.5 – 9.5 mm < .125” < 3mm
Machinery Type Sheet Fed Roll Fed
Thermoplastic Materials Used (Most Common) ABS
Polycarbonate
HDPE
Polypropylene (many material variants available)
PETG
PET
Clear PVC
Styrene
Polypropylene  
Annual Volume Low – Mid Volume < 10,000 High Volume > 10,000
Typical Applications -Medical device enclosures
-Transportation interior parts (window masks, wall and ceiling panels, seating, luggage racks)
-Kiosk enclosures
-Industrial equipment covers
-Electronic equipment enclosures
-Clamshell packaging
-Food service packaging
-Disposable cups, plates, and trays
-Food containers
-Small medical device packaging

Does your application favor heavy gauge thermoforming? If so, contact us or download our Heavy Gauge Plastic Thermoforming Design Guide for more detailed  information on the features and benefits of plastic thermoforming and to explore how Productive Plastics can provide manufacturing solutions for your product.

Please contact Productive Plastics for more information on the thermoforming process
Please download the heavy gauge thermoforming design guide from Productive Plastics

Plastic Thermoforming, Pressure Forming, and Vacuum Forming – What’s the Difference?

The terms “plastic thermoforming”, “pressure  forming”, and “vacuum forming” are all used to describe plastic forming processes. While similar, there are subtle and important differences in these terms and processes that may not be well known outside of the plastic manufacturing industry.

Here is a brief breakdown to get you talking thermoforming like a pro in less than a minute:

Plastic Thermoforming is the generic broad label given to the plastic manufacturing process that heats thermoplastic sheet material (thermo) and then applies pressure or vacuum to form into a 3-dimensional shape (forming).

Pressure and Vacuum Forming are the 2 most common plastic thermoforming manufacturing techniques, under the umbrella of plastic thermoforming. They differ primarily in the method of applying pressure/vacuum to transform the heated plastic sheet into the desired 3-dimensional shape.

Pressure Forming Process

Pressure Forming Process

Vacuum Forming Process

Vacuum Forming Process
 

Plastic Thermoforming


 

Pressure Forming

Vacuum Forming

 Pressure Forming IllustrationVacuum forming Illustration
Process DescriptionSheet thermoplastic material is heated until pliable. Positive pressure is then applied above the heated sheet, pressing the material into the surface of a mold to create the desired 3-dimensional part shape.

 

Full Disclosure – The air under the sheet is also evacuated to assist in stretching the material over the mold, but the positive pressure applied is up to 5x greater.

Sheet thermoplastic material is heated until pliable and placed over a mold. The air is then evacuated between the heated sheet and mold creating a vacuum that pulls the material onto the surface of the mold to create the desired 3-dimensional part shape.

 

 

Watch a 1-minute video of a part being vacuum formed.

Key Benefits
  • Aesthetic surface finishes (texture, branding, in mold design)
  • Often eliminates need for post-production painting
  • High level of detail (rivals injection molding)
  • Tighter radius formation
  • Greater undercut depth and definition
  • In mold vents, louver, and attachment point geometry
  • Larger part capability
  • Faster cycle times
  • Lower tooling costs
ToolingNegative  toolingPositive  tooling (typically)
 

 

Primary Part Surface (Dimensional & Aesthetic)

 

 

 

Outside (part surface contacting the tool)

 

 

Inside (part surface contacting the tool)

Application Examples
  • Device Enclosures (medical, dental, kiosk, electrical, etc.)
  • Transportation (air, mass transit, rail) interior components (seating, window masks, wall and ceiling paneling, etc)
  • Material handling equipment interior components
  • Recreation and utility vehicle components
  • Food service components
  • Handling trays and dunnage
  • Pick up truck bedliners
  • Waste water management components
  • Portable toilet components
  • Large equipment enclosures
  • Agricultural related equipment and components

In addition to pressure forming and vacuum forming, there are other methods, such as twin sheet thermoforming (to be covered in a future post), that give plastic thermoforming a vast portfolio of manufacturing capabilities that offer product solutions to a wide range of industries and applications. Plastic thermoforming often outperforms other processes and materials such as fiberglass (FRP) , metal, or injection molding.

Want to learn more about which plastic thermoforming process is the right solution for your project?

Please contact us.

Please contact Productive Plastics for more information on the thermoforming process

5 Questions to discover if your manufacturer can produce high quality parts, time and time again?

The heavy gauge plastic thermoforming process can produce a very versatile range of highly detailed, durable, and tight tolerance parts with almost limitless design possibilities. The process is fast, cost effective, and ideally suited for a large list of markets and applications. However, like all manufacturing processes, plastic thermoforming requires technical expertise, detailed operating procedures, engineered tooling design and construction, and a comprehensive quality management system to ensure the consistent production of the most cost-effective solutions at the desired level of quality.

As such, not every plastic thermoforming processor is equally capable. Contract manufacturers with poor tooling, processing and quality controls can end up delaying your project or OEM product and increase costs.  Productive Plastics recommends asking the following questions to gauge if a custom plastic manufacturer will be able to consistently produce parts at your required level of quality and dimension tolerances.

1. Does the manufacturer have an accredited quality control program?

ISO9001-2015-Certification-Productive Plastics

Ensuring that your manufacturer has adopted an accredited quality control program, such as ISO 9001, will indicate that the company has an active quality control process in place that has been evaluated and certified by an industry recognized third party. The accreditation documentation, often available on the manufacturer’s website, will give you detailed information on what aspects of the company have been certified and supporting quality documentation can often be requested from the processor.

2. Is the manufacturer’s facility organized and clean?

This may seem like a trivial point, but it can be a key indicator to a company’s commitment to quality. A company with a well-organized manufacturing floor is much more likely to take quality, efficiency, process improvement, and safety seriously. If you are not offered a tour of the facility, ask for ne and witness firsthand the quality control measures in action. Cleanliness and organization are vital since thermoforming is an “open mold process” meaning airborne dirt could end up as an inclusion in the finished part and become a cosmetic flaw.

3. Does the contract manufacturer utilize efficient manufacturing methodologies and conduct process improvement events, such as Lean Manufacturing and Kaizen events?

Lean Manufacturing practices are focused on the removal of inefficient practices in manufacturing, management, and administration operations and part of the methodology is the regular evaluation of current processes with emphasis on continual improvement. Companies that are committed to following Lean Manufacturing techniques often have a very efficient manufacturing operation, state of the art equipment, and produce quality parts with a low rejection rate.

4. Does the thermoforming processor have dedicated engineering experts on staff (in-house) to provide tooling design and construction project management?

Properly designed and constructed tooling is the foundation of plastic thermoforming and is essential to producing a high quality consistent product. Poorly engineered tooling can result in part dimension variations, surface abnormalities, and other defects. See 6 Common Thermoforming Quality Issues Actually Caused by Improper Tooling.

5. Does the processor conduct a “Define and Discover” Innovation Engineering approach to seek avenues for collaborative project development and management?

This collaboration innovation technique sets the stage for a smooth product development which is more likely to meet performance and delivery expectations.

Ultimately, each project is unique. A commodity type part will likely not require the same level of quality in detail and precision as a multi-part medical device assembly. However, finding a reliable custom manufacturer that can produce your parts consistently, efficiently, and to your specification is a paramount factor to the success of any product.

At Productive Plastics, we go to great lengths to ensure quality

Have more questions about the role of quality manufacturing for your parts and components? Interested in exploring plastic thermoforming solutions for your OEM product?

Please contact us.

Please contact Productive Plastics for more information on the thermoforming process

Terminology Note

Productive Plastics and the plastics industry typically use the terms "vacuum forming" and "vacuum thermoforming" interchangeably. Misspellings include "vacuumforming" and "vacuumthermoforming".

Looking for more technical information?

Download the Thermoforming Design Guide, Process Comparisons, Conversion Guides, and other useful thermoforming information from our technical resource library.

Contact Us

Ready to explore how Productive Plastics can add to the success of your project?