The thermoforming process has matured from a simple process that was used to make aircraft canopies during the Second World War. The reasoning was that all you needed to do was take a sheet of plastic, heat it and apply it over some sort of a crude mold, and presto, a part was born. However that part needed a lot of manual work to refine it. This gave thermoforming a reputation as a crude manufacturing method.
Well, thermoforming today has only a vague resemblance to the 1940’s and 50’s. Today’s customers expect to receive elegant parts that can meet industry standards while pleasing their customers. For example, medical device manufacturers know that the plastic parts they purchase must appeal to patients by having a welcoming and elegant appearance to eliminate any fear the patient might have about the medical device doctors are going to use on them.
Today’s thermoforming companies must remain competitive by offering the companies with whom they work capabilities that were not dreamed about when those aircraft canopies were being produced.
If you are considering the thermoforming process for low volume (less than 2000) production runs because the cost of molds is significantly lower than the injection molding process, you must make sure that the thermoformer, vacuum former, or pressure former you are considering can offer you:
- A competent and experienced engineering staff: This staff must have Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) capability coupled with Solid Modeling capability while providing a communications link with your engineering staff. At Mayfield Plastics, we take one additional, important step. our staff personally routinely meets early on in the design process with the customer’s engineers to review the design requirements in person when this is possible. Our skilled in-house tooling department draws from many tooling approaches including Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining to produce the sophisticated tooling and fixturing needed to get it right.
- The right thermoforming equipment and processes to meet the intricate detail required today. Our microprocessor driven forming machines allow independent heat zone control and precise cycle repeatability. Our three and five-axis routers ensure that finished parts will meet precise specifications every time.
- Superlative customer support: When you need support you want it now. Using enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, we are able to electronically monitor every phase of projects from raw materials procurement through bill-of-materials development, to work order generation and fulfillment. Our Customer Relationship Management (CRM software puts at our immediate disposal every interaction we have with every customer. Dedicated Customer Service Representatives work individually with each customer to ensure accurate and personalized customer service.
- Proof that the manufacturing processes the thermoformer uses are written, followed, and registered. Mayfield Plastics’ processes are approved and registered by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO )
Today most modern thermoforming companies provide these services to their customers. Your research must indicate that these services are in place if you are genuinely interested in elegant, quality parts at a reasonable price.