Heavy-Gauge Thermoforming: Durability at Reduced Cost


Heavy-gauge thermoforming produces a sturdy, rigid product that offers an economic solution to manufacturers who need a part or shipping tray that is light but durable.

The process starts with a sheet of heavy-gauge polycarbonate or similar plastic that’s a minimum of 3 mm thick. The thermoforming system heats the sheet until it is pliable, and then a vacuum pulls the sheet tightly against a three-dimensional form. A blast of air releases the thermoformed sheet, after which the sheet is trimmed as necessary to complete the product.

Whereas in-line thin-gauge thermoforming produces very flexible product normally used for disposable packaging, heavy-gauge thermoforming can be used to produce OEM parts for recreational vehicles as well as for non-disposable shipping and in-plant processing shipping trays.

ThermoFlex specializes in heavy-gauge thermoforming and integrating the economies of vacuum forming with the strength and precision normally associated with more expensive injection-molding processes. Industrial in-plant processing trays often require precise placement of parts for interaction with robotic equipment, putting extra demands on the tray to withstand excessive wear while ensuring repeatability.

The meet these demands, ThermoFlex, with its sister company PolyFlex Products, can produce a heavy-gauge thermoformed tray as an economic yet sturdy base, but with precise design to accept injection molded inserts to secure parts and interact with the robots. Our advanced capabilities in heavy-gauge thermoforming allow ThermoFlex to accurately integrate the two processes into one product that meets the customer’s needs.