Glossary

New to thermoforming and its related processes? We get it – there’s a lot to take in.

GLOSSARY

To help you along, here are definitions for several common industry terms. Keep in mind, from the moment you come to us with your design idea, you can rely on ThermoFab’s blend of methods for thermoformed enclosures and injection molded enclosures. ThermoFab has a decades-long track record of customer success. So leave the legwork to us so you can stay focused on what matters most: a superior end result, in the shortest amount of time.

DRUM-BUFFER-ROPE

A production planning technique that helps manufacturers create production schedules that are protected from the adverse effects of “Murphy” events. Learn more about DBR and lean manufacturing at ThermoFab.

EMI SHIELDING

Application of a protective copper substance to protect enclosed electronic products from electromagnetic interference (EMI). At ThermoFab, we do all shielding in-house to ensure the highest quality.

HEAVY GAUGE THERMOFORMING

Thermoforming of plastic heavy gauge enclosures with wall thicknesses ranging from .060-.310 inches. Heavy-gauge thermoforming involves a plastic part that, in essence, “becomes” the product. For example, think of your computer or a medical device at the hospital. The plastic enclosure not only covers and protects the delicate electrical components on the inside, but also makes the product look better.

INJECTION MOLDING

Process that involves heating plastic pellets or granules until a melt is obtained. The melt is then delivered to a split-die mold where it is allowed to cool into the desired shape. The mold is then opened and the part is ejected, at which time the cycle is repeated.

PLASTIC ENCLOSURES

A custom plastic machine enclosure that surrounds and covers the exterior of electronic or electromechanical devices. Such plastic custom enclosures are typically used in the medical, automation & robotics or test & measurement industries.

PLASTIC PRESSURE FORMING

Thermoforming technique that involves forcing a heat-softened plastic sheet against a mold, usually female, by introducing compressed air to the backside of the heated sheet. See chart below.

PLASTIC THERMOFORMING

Method of manufacturing plastic parts by preheating a flat sheet of plastic and bringing it into contact with a mold whose shape it takes.

PLASTIC VACUUM FORMING

Automatic draping of a heat-softened plastic sheet over a female or male mold. See chart below.

SECONDARY OPERATIONS

Addition of inserts, mesh, and other features to custom plastic enclosures. Ask how ThermoFab’s process puts more detail in the original part reducing the requirement for secondary operations.

MORE ON VACUUM FORMING AND PRESSURE FORMING

PROCESS DESCRIPTION TYPES OF PARTS/PRODUCTS BEST MATERIAL
Vacuum Forming Process of draping heated sheet plastic, typically over a male mold, then applying vacuum to pull the sheet against the mold Tote trays and other shapes that don’t require sharp detail GP ABS
FR ABS
Pressure Forming Process of molding a heated sheet of plastic, into what is typically a female mold, using air pressure and vacuum to pull the sheet against the mold Covers for Medical and other industrial equipment that require sharp detail and intricate features not formable using a vacuum forming process GP ABS
FR ABS
FR PVC/Acrylic

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. Our expert CAD and tooling department routinely work with clients who come to us with injection-molding files. We use these files to deliver the detail and quality you seek in an injection molded part at the volumes you require. Upload your files here.
Yes! We will help you find the appropriate designer to turn your specs into the best design for manufacturing. Every one of our designers has hands-on tooling experience to fully understand your specific objectives, whether you are starting with partial CAD files, partial concepts or a large project that requires industrial or tooling design.
ThermoFab excels at tight deadlines. We go from design to finished part in 4-6 weeks. We consistently keep ahead of the competition in terms of fast turnaround times, flexible volumes, superior quality and unparalleled levels of detail.
ThermoFab is proud to offer maximum quality control and eliminate the risk of timeline mishaps, misinterpretation of your concept and other potentially expensive problems.

Throughout your part’s manufacturing, ThermoFab performs inspections every step of the way using stringent quality controls. Operating inspections in the WIP cycle are conducted at each station that your part travels through. We then offer a final inspection to ensure your product looks and performs exactly as you intended.

Yes. ThermoFab uses a Dupont Spectramaster to ensure accurate color matching. Additionally, we offer a custom process to do specialized graphics and custom formulated colors to match your branding. View our product gallery for a look at the comprehensive range of colors we can achieve.
It’s easy. If you have 3D Solid Models files, upload them here. Have some questions you’d like answered first? Just send us your questions now and we’ll get back to you quickly. We can easily transfer native Solidworks, step or iges. ThermoFab’s staff is comprised of industry veterans who bring a sensitivity to every design concept. We understand that functionality is top priority; however, a sleek and high-quality look is often just as important for many of our clients. Learn more about the ThermoFab Approach.
Yes. We have clients who produce just a handful of large products, while others produce thousands of smaller products. ThermoFab has developed a niche in the market in terms of the volume flexibility we provide. From dozens of parts to thousands of parts, clients routinely tell us that, after calling other thermoforming companies, ThermoFab truly offers the lowest volume options with the fastest turnaround.

Additionally, our focus on lean manufacturing allows us to work with you based on how you plan your volumes through the year. Using a yearly blanket order with monthly releases, ThermoFab manages your deliveries with a 45-day rolling forecast. The forecast allows you to push-pull within a 45-day window, which gives you maximum flexibility to respond to market changes and growth within your product line.

Absolutely. Because ThermoFab’s proprietary process places significant detail into your part’s exterior surfaces using action in the tooling design, undercuts are achieved with crisp, clean lines with no details spared. Our tooling techniques reveal detail, undercuts, and interior attachment features, with the level of precision you’re looking for.