Our factory make thermoforming plastic products, especially plastic aftermarket automotive parts.
Thermoforming and injection molding both make 3D plastic parts. Which process is right for your product? Here below I show you some comparisons between these two processes.
Firstly, the tools are different. Thermoforming tool is created out of aluminum in a single-sided form. Injection tool is created out of steel, aluminum or a beryllium-copper alloy in a double-sided form. Single-sided tool is much cheaper than double-sided mold. However, the cost of each individual part is generally cheaper with injection molding.
The break-even point varies with every project, but its’ usually somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 parts. For smaller parts it’s generally lower, for larger parts it’s generally higher.
Secondly, the materials are different. Flat sheet of thermoplastic is used for thermoforming, available in a wide variety of materials, finishes, colors and thicknesses. Yet injection uses thermoplastic pellets, available in a wide variety of materials and colors.
For thermoforming, a flat sheet of plastic is heated to a pliable temperature, then molded to the tool’s shape using either suction from a vacuum, or both suction and pressure. The finished pieces are trimmed by CNC into the required structures.
For injection molding, the plastic pellets are heated to a liquid state, then injected into the mold. The final pieces are directly removed from the mold without a further process. So the production cost is cheaper than thermoforming.
Lastly, for lead time, thermoforming is much shorter than injection molding. So if your project is much urgent then thermoforming may will be a good choice for you.
Generally speaking, thermoforming for short run or low volume manufacturing can be a valuable tool in making high quality plastic components.
Still have no idea which process is better for the aftermarket automotive parts of your project? Just feel free to contact us.