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6 Common Thermoforming Quality Issues Actually Caused by Improper Tooling

Many manufacturers utilizing heavy gauge thermoformed components for their projects often view tooling as no more than a cost variable on the quotes that they receive. Consequently, favorable purchase decisions are often given to the thermoformer that can quote the lowest tooling cost. Many thermoformers will in turn strive to present the lowest tooling cost capable by commissioning inadequate tooling design, material, and mold manufacturing quality. The result is certainly a lower tooling quote. CFOs and Purchasers rejoice! However, it may ultimately cost you more than you bargained for in the end.

Here are 6 common thermoforming quality issues that are actually caused by improper and inadequate tooling:

  Quality Issue Cause Effect
1 Warpage Improper temperature controlled tool design and manufacture Unequal heating and cooling of plastic material surface area
2 Dimensional Inconsistencies Improper temperature controlled tool design and manufacture When the mold is in continuing production the temp will not be consistent over a batch of parts, resulting in inconsistent shrinkage
3 Part Thickness Inconsistencies Inadequate and/or improper vacuum venting in tool design and manufacture As the part is  formed over the mold, inconsistent or inadequate venting leads to thickness inconsistencies
4 Lack of Detail in Part Geometry and Aesthetics Inadequate and/or improper vacuum venting in tool design and manufacture As the part is  formed over the mold, inconsistent or inadequate venting in areas of geometry or aesthetic design fail to produce the desired result
5 Quality of Surface Finish (texture and gloss variation) Improper tooling material selection and/or inadequate tool surface finishing Tool surface porosity and/or surface finishing may result in unwanted surface texture, dimpling, or gloss reduction
6 Chill marks Inadequate and/or improper vacuum venting and temperature control in tool design and manufacture Wavy undulations in plastic surface occur due to trapped air and unequal material cooling

How do I avoid these quality issues?

Most of the issues stated above can be avoided and overcome with an experienced plastic thermoforming manufacturer committed to high integrity processing that utilizes proper tooling design, tooling material selection, and a high quality tooling manufacturer. This will raise your initial tooling investment, but the resulting savings and benefits associated with reduced lead times, reduced part defects, increased aesthetics, and a higher quality part are tangible. See our Tooling Engineering page for more information on tooling.

Did you know that using or converting to thermoformed plastic from fiberglass (FRP/GRP) can save you approximately 26% on tooling cost depending on your estimated annual usage (volume)?


Click here for more info on the benefits of thermoplastic vs. fiberglass.


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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