Reaching the Product FInish Line in Style


You've labored over your product: its design, its function, its manufacturing. But keep this in mind: it doesn't--and shouldn't--stop there. In fact, we're willing to say that product finishing is just as important (and maybe even more so, at least initially) as design, function, and manufacturing.


Simple. Your product's finishing touches are what prospective customers are going to see first. If your product doesn't garner attention (and quickly), it won't matter how innovative or how useful your product is because the prospect will have already walked on by.

Don't let that happen. Take the time to understand how to reach the product "finish line" in style.

 Reach the Finish Line in Style

Painting Process-2 When it comes to product finishing, you need to focus on three things: color, min/max chips, and logo artwork and design.

Color Me Brilliant:
We've talked about color psychology in past issues, but it bears repeating. The color you choose speaks to consumers on a subliminal level. White says "clean," bold purple suggests "fun," and soft blues and sea greens have calming effects. Think about what you want your product to say and what impression you want it to leave on people's minds. Don't randomly select a color. Make sure you have a reason (and a good one) for selecting it.

Of course, choosing the right color is only the first step. What comes next? Working with a thermoformer that makes certain your color translates well onto the product. At ThermoFab, we perform all painting in-house because this gives us maximum control over color, gloss, and texture. For the exterior color, we can color-match using your color sample chip or specification. To ensure the right color is applied every time, we use Dupont Spectramaster. Which brings us to our next important point.

Ensuring Color Consistency with Min/Max Chips
Think of it like this: min/max paint chips keep everyone "honest" because they provide the all-important color/texture/gloss level criteria. How does it work? We can only speak to our own process here at ThermoFab:
  • Each chip is divided in half.
  • One half is the minimum. The other half is the maximum.
  • Our clients keep these chips and we keep these chips (so that everyone is on the same color "page").
  • We use these chips to ensure that each lot falls within the acceptable min/max range. Nothing leaves our thermoforming plant unless this happens, which means you can rest assured knowing that your product's look is consistent from batch to batch.
Got Branding?
Everything about your product should reflect and reinforce your existing brand. Branding is not something that you should be thinking about after the product is designed and manufactured. It needs to be part of the custom thermoforming process. Questions to ask:
  • How and where will the logo appear?
  • What challenges to the manufacturing and product finishing will this create?
  • How do we work around these challenges?
Here are some other helpful artwork tips:
  • Line artis required for traditional screen printing. However, at ThermoFab, we have a machine that can print photographic images onto components, but the part must be no more than two inches thick.
  • We don't recommend gradientsbecause each color is screened individually onto a part. However, if your heart is set on the gradient "look," we can use dot patterns in the screens to mimic the look of a gradient. The result is a pixilated image that looks best when you view it from afar.
  • Vector Artwork: If you have vector-based artwork from any of the file types listed below, the DPI doesn't matter. But if's raster-based (i.e. graphics made up of pixels, like those captured from the web or from your digital camera), a higher DPI will produce a better look.
  • Preferred Files: Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat, and Distiller (.pdf, .eps, .ai, .ps, .psd), as well as AutoCad (.dwg, .dxf), Corel Draw (.cdr), and Corel Photo (.cpt).
Like what you read here? This is the type of info you'll get when you download our free thermoforming design guide.


  Finished Product. "Wow" Result.

Read how ThermoFab helped transform this industrial box housing into a sleek platform, complete with product finishing that really makes the product "pop." (Note: link opens a PDF.)

Then browse through our complete list of thermoforming case studies here.