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Choosing the Right Plastic Thermoforming Company – Top 5 Qualifications – Part 1 – Industry Qualifications

In the world of custom plastic thermoforming, the needs of each customer, project, and process are unique. Deadlines, material requirements, cost, and quality are just a few of the variables that development teams face when choosing a plastic thermoforming manufacturer.

Just as each project is unique, each plastic thermoforming company is unique and it is essential to find one that specializes and excels in the areas that are key to your particular project’s success. Choosing the right company for the job is a vital link in your project development chain that can either streamline and strengthen it, or breakdown the process entirely.

With over 30 years in the industry, we at Productive Plastics understand the challenges that you face when shopping for a thermoforming company that will be an asset to your project rather than a liability. So, we have put together a number of qualifications and questions for you to reference then next time you are looking for a company to fill your thermoforming needs. This 5 part series will feature 5 qualifications that we feel are vitally important factors in choosing the right plastic thermoforming manufacturer.

We hope that you find this material informative and helpful in the search for your thermoforming solutions.

Qualification #1: Industry Experience

Qualifiying questions:
  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. Do you have experience in my industry?
  3. Do you have case studies or examples of products that are similar to mine?
  4. Have you been published or recognized in the industry?
When searching for the right plastic thermoforming company, it is important to zero in on a company that has experience in plastic thermoforming. An obvious point we know, however it is important in respect to the fact that you should be looking for a company that has been thermoforming plastic for at least a decade. This uncovers a few key traits about the company.
  1. They are, most likely, a stable company that will be in business for the duration of your project and hopefully long after. Think of the monumental waste of time, effort, and resources expended if the company you select closes its doors half way through the production of your product.
  2. You can reasonably assume that if the company has been thermoforming plastic for over 10 years, they have developed a high level of expertise. A company’s “about us” page on their website, in addition to external references (if you can obtain them), is usually a good starting point for gathering this information.
In addition to establishing a prospective company’s reliability and longevity, the next step is to determine if the company has experience thermoforming parts for products in or related to your specific industry.  There are pitfalls and challenges to manufacturing plastic parts for different industry applications, such as required tolerances, and environmental factors that effect and dictate the thermoforming company’s manufacturing process that must be used, tooling considerations, material selection, and many other production critical factors.  An industry experienced thermoformer will be aware of, prepared for, and capable of handling these project nuances, which will ultimately minimize costly and time consuming mistakes.
Once you have qualified a potential thermoforming company as an experienced industry manufacturer, it is helpful to obtain some supporting evidence. Most reputable companies can provide case studies or part examples that showcase their ability to produce high quality parts relevant to your application. Also, look for companies that have been recognized by the industry, whether it be through publications, awards, or other industry resources.
In our next issue, we will explore the second qualification, the value of engineering, design, and material expertise.

Productive Plastics Qualifications:

  • Productive Plastics has been in business since 1955 (learn more)
  • Productive Plastics has extensive experience thermoforming parts for these industries: Medical diagnostic, industrial, transportation, plastic enclosures, self-service kiosks (learn more)
  • Productive Plastics was recently awarded the parts competition Judges Choice and People’s Choice awards at this year’s SPE thermoforming conference and has been featured in Plastics News (industry publication)

Contact us and let Productive Plastics apply some innovation and thermoforming expertise to your next project.

Adding more value to value added – Introducing Productive Industrial Finishing

At Productive Plastics, our goal is to provide our customers not only with the highest levels of quality, value, and manufacturing expertise, but to create a synergistic company environment capable of providing and controlling all facets of our value added services for you, our customer.

As a result of this effort, we are proud to welcome our newest addition to the Productive Plastics family, Productive Industrial Finishing.

Productive Industrial Finishing (PIF), previously XYZ Finishing, is a highly experienced industrial powder coating and spray painting operation that joined our team earlier this year. Having recently completed a major facility enhancement project and lean manufacturing process implementation, PIF is now an integral part of our value added and turnkey solutions at Productive Plastics.

Productive Industrial Finishing company facts:

Our unique strengths are providing over 25 years of:

High quality powder and spray finishes

Extremely fast turnaround times

Competitive pricing


Industrial Powder Coating

Industrial Spray Painting

All processes utilize lean manufacturing techniques and turnaround times average less than 72 hours

Material Advantages

Environmentally friendly (PIF utilizes high solids and water-based products in our product finishing applications)

Extremely durable to the elements

Resistant to most chemicals and solvents

Impact and corrosion resistant

Equipment / Capabilities

2 SureCoat (Morton) powder coating systems

1 Liquid HVLP spray painting booths

18 x 20 x 18 calibrated batch production oven

Polyester, epoxy, urethane, polyurethane, nylon, hybrids

Applications on parts up to 14 linear feet


Productive Industrial Finishing has application certifications from the following material manufactures:



Tiger Drylac

TCI Powder Coating


PIF can also meet the requirements for most military specifications

Integrating Productive Industrial Finishing into the Productive Plastics family has allowed PPI to control the cost, delivery, and quality of all thermoformed enclosures requiring secondary painting and finishing.

Our customers have already begun to enjoy the benefits of combining PIF’s finishing expertise with PPI’s lean manufacturing techniques and experience. The results have been reduced lead times, increased quality control, and additional value to our customers with products requiring secondary painting and finishing.

Please contact us for additional information on Productive Industrial Finishing or any of our other value-added services.

If you prefer, you can contact Productive Industrial Finishing directly using the following contact information:

Productive Industrial Finishing

103 American Way · Voorhees NJ 08043-1112

Phone: 856-427-9646 · Fax: 856-427-6937


Feedback and your ideas are always appreciated.

Plastic Materials – What Material is Right for my Application?

An important consideration when manufacturing a thermoformed plastic part is the selection of appropriate material. There is a multitude of different types of plastic materials, each with their own specific characteristics, properties, strengths, and weaknesses. Proper selection of the appropriate plastic material for a specific application is an essential component in creating a successful plastic part.

Below you will find some basic information on the different types of plastic available for use in thethermoforming process and some considerations that will help you determine the right plastic for the job.

Material Characteristics:

Here are some general physical characteristics that are used to describe the unique properties of each plastic material grade. The material you select will depend on the characteristics you and your project require.

  • Impact Strength – how much abuse can a material take before it breaks
  • Thermal Conductivity – the amount of heat that can be conducted through the material
  • Coefficient of Thermal Expansion – amount of expansion and contraction at a given temperature
  • Chemical Resistance – affect of chemical interaction
  • Stiffness (Flexural Modulus) – Rigidity of material
  • Heat Deflection – the temperature at which the material will distort
  • Hardness – material resistance to abrasion, chipping, and cracking
  • Flammability – extent to which a material will support combustion
  • Mold Shrinkage – amount of shrink after the plastic is removed from the mold
  • Forming Range – temperature range at which the plastic can be thermoformed
  • Tensile strength – Resistance to being pulled apart
  • Dielectric Strength – Electrical insulation

Material Selection Considerations:

When determining the right plastic for the job, consider some of the following questions:

What characteristics are most critical to my application?

  Learn more – click here

Find additional material considerations and other information on selecting the right plastic part for your application, please visit the Plastic Material  page on our website.

Note – The information provided on this page is only basic and generalized. It is only intended to give you a brief overview of some of the plastic material options available and assist in identifying the appropriate material for your project. The content should be used as reference only.

Please contact us for assistance in moving your project forward.

Feedback and your ideas are always appreciated.

Thermoformed Enclosures meets Distortion Printing

One of the many distinct advantages of using thermoformed plastic as an enclosure medium is the vast design flexibility that it gives you on your three dimensional enclosure component. The drawback was that importing branding, images, and complex finishes over these elaborate enclosures was limited or challenging  due to the inherent stretching in the process of thermoformed components.

However, with the utilization of distortion printing, these obstacles have been removed, presenting nearly limitless options for finishing and image applications on thermoformed parts.

What is distortion printing?

Distortion printing is the process of printing a distorted version of an image onto a sheet of plastic  and systematically vacuum forming the sheet on a mold so that specific areas of the printed image appear in corresponding areas of the resulting three-dimensional large part.

Essentially, the finished image is modified to anticipate the distortion created by the stretching of plastic during the thermoforming process. This modified image is then printed on the material which is later thermoformed, resulting in the finished image perfectly proportioned on the three dimensional part.

Why use distortion printing?

  • Improved branding and consumer awareness
  • Kiosk fascia project utilizing distortion printing
  • Design innovation
  • Increased speed-to-market product development
  • Automated and accurate distortion process eliminates cost and risks related to previous trial-and-error processes
  • Large part distortion printing is cutting-edge for the thermoforming industry
  • Elimination of material and assembly costs for secondary parts used for decoration purposes
  • Pre-decorating capabilities of distortion printing vastly increases design envelope for design engineers

Productive Plastics combines its thermoforming and manufacturing process expertise with advanced computer software from Raytek and distortion technology applications from Distortion Arts to bring you the industry’s top distortion printed thermoformed parts.

Contact us with questions on distortion printing and for assistance with your next project.

10 Qualities of Strong Program Management

Welcome to Productive Ideas from Productive Plastics, our opportunity to share business thoughts and ideas.

Today’s “Ideas” are about the qualities of strong program management, an essential part of good business practice.

Here are the ten qualities we have found to be essential in effective program management:

  1. Inspired Vision – Instill in team members a belief that they have a real stake in managing customer needs and meeting their expectations.
  2. Good Communication – Always critical to program success, communication about goals, responsibility, performance and expectations must bridge all levels of your organization.
  3. Integrity – Successful program management require commitment to and demonstration of ethical practices. Each team member must “walk the talk”.
  4. Enthusiasm – Team members exhibit a can do attitude, rather than reasons why something cannot get done.
  5. Empathy – Understand and acknowledge the unique needs of the OEM marketplace and customers need to succeed.
  6. Competence – A winning track record is a sure indication of your ability to provide successful program management to future customers.
  7. Clear Delegation – Each team member should have a clear, defined mission and lines of authority in order to get the job done.
  8. Cool Under Pressure – Our world is not perfect…programs have problems.  It is important to take these problems in stride and articulate a new and improved direction to re-chart the course in stride.
  9. Team Building – Team leaders need to understand the process, dynamics and styles of their members and capitalize on their strengths.
  10. Problem Solving Skills – Bring a fresh, creative response to the here and now opportunities to the program.

Enlisting these program management qualities will help meet and exceed the expectations of customers from product design and tooling development through ongoing production requirements. Did we miss any top ideas?

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.

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