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Choosing the Right Plastic Thermoforming Company Top 5 Qualifications – Part 2 Engineering, Design, and Material Expertise

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 #2: Engineering, design, and material expertise

Qualifiying questions:
  1. Can your company work with me from design concept to completion?
  2. Do you have in-house engineering and design capabilities?
  3. What material is best suited for my application?
  4. Can you manufacture parts that will meet my industry standards? (ex. flammability, conductivity, etc)
Once you have determined that a potential thermoforming company has the industry experience (See Part 1 – Qualification #1)  to meet your project’s needs, it is then important to determine if the company has the engineering, design, and material expertise capabilities to take your concept or existing design to the point of production. Each piece of the design puzzle must be engineered correctly to produce a high quality, tight tolerance, and cost effective part.
The mark of a very capable engineering and design oriented thermoforming company is the ability to take a project from basic concept (the napkin drawing) through completion (part prototype). This encompasses the creation of CAD drawings, tooling design and construction, material selection, and secondary assembly requirements.
Companies that can accomplish this typically have in-house engineering and design staff, but many plastic thermoforming companies do outsourcetheir engineering and design services to third parties. While this is not necessarily a deal breaker, it can have an impact on your project. Companies that outsource rather than in-house these services can experience delays in lead times due to lack of logistical control and carry an increased cost structure which can equate to a longer time to market and higher cost per part for your project. Careful consideration should be used when selecting a company without in-house engineering and design capabilities.
Another important consideration in choosing the right plastic thermoforming company is the correct selection of raw plastic material that will be used in your part’s production. There are a multitude of different types of plastic materials, each with their own specificcharacteristics, 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. 
Design tolerances, environmental durability, flammability, conductivity, and many other specifications that may be required or mandated to fit the needs of your project and industry are all affected by the selection of the correct raw material.  Therefore, it is extremely important to determine that your thermoforming company is well versed in material selection and that they have established strong relationships with their raw material suppliers.
In our next issue, we will explore the third qualification, the importance of tooling.

Productive Plastics Qualifications:

  • Productive Plastics has a dedicated and in-house design and engineering staff with decades of industry experience, including reverse engineering, tooling design, and secondary assembly capabilities (learn more)
  • Productive Plastics has the material selection expertise to meet even the most restrictive standards of the transportation, industrial, and medical diagnostic industries. (learn more)

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

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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