Heavy Gauge Thermoforming – Universal Plastics

Heavy gauge thermoforming is a process that converts a flat sheet of plastic into a functional form.

Since it is a low pressure process, our tools are simpler and less expensive than other molding processes.

Heavy gauge forming uses sheet ½” thick, which is formed with one of these processes:

  • Vacuum forming is a simple process which you may already be familiar with, where a hot sheet is stretched over a male mold, and vacuum is applied between the sheet and the mold, pulling the sheet tight to the mold. Once it cools, the sheet takes on the shape of the tool. With our 3-dimensional trimming equipment, we can then trim out the finished part with a high degree of accuracy and repeatability. There are an infinite number of applications of this process.
  • Pressure forming is a more complex process where the hot sheet is drawn into a female mold, and then a tank closes off the mold and pressure is introduced on the non-mold side while vacuum is applied on the mold side. The sheet is drawn very tightly to the mold, and the resultant part then has all of the fine detail of a molded part, but with less tooling. This is the process of choice where you need a very highly cosmetic look, identical to molding, with tight radii and fine surface detail but the part size is large and volumes are just too low to justify injection molding. Many industrial machines and medical and scientific equipment employ pressure formed enclosures to give them a distinctive and attractive appearance.
  • Fabrication is the simplest process of all, where the sheet itself is simply bent and or bonded into a new shape, very similar to sheet metal but with the many benefits plastics bring to product design. There is virtually no tooling cost with this process and the variety of shapes that can be created are only limited by the designer’s imagination. Common uses include machine guards, tanks, retail displays, and back end enclosures that match up to pressure formed bezels.


Heavy Gauge Thermoforming Applications:

Heavy Gauge Thermoforming – Universal PlasticsOur expertise in the application of heavy gauge thermoforming ranges across various industries and product types.

Below is a selection of common products:


  • Pallets
  • Dunnage trays
  • Totes & Bins
  • Housings
  • Enclosures
  • Bezels
  • Guards
  • Radomes
  • Components
  • Plus many, many more

For assistance with your design, just let us know. Our world-class engineering team will be happy to work with you to design a thermoformed part for your specific application.

Heavy Gauge Thermoforming Capabilities at Universal Plastics:

  • Forming Department: We have 5 Pressure Forming machines, which include a 4 station and 3 station rotary, and 5 shuttle Vacuum Formers . Our maximum mold size is 72” x 108” with a 38” deep draw.
  • Secondary Operations: We are fully equipped for secondary operations including 6 CNC robotic routers with a maximum bed size of 60” x 120”.
  • Tooling: Fully equipped in-house tooling department with 3 CNC machining centers and support equipment. We add to that a full complement of traditional wood and metal working equipment, including a welding shop and our experienced team of toolmakers.
  • Other: In-house finish painting and RF/EMI Shielding. QC inspections with CMM Color conformance with a Datacolor 600.

Contact us to discuss how we can meet your thermoforming needs.