Getting Started

The Thermoforming Tech Academy is provided as a tool for those who want to learn about and work with thermoforming designs, materials, molds, and manufacturing techniques. Whether you choose to use the Tech Academy as a reference, as an instructional tool, or as an aid in your manufacturing decision making process, we believe you will find it to be an invaluable addition to your engineering toolbox.

The Tech Academy begins with Design Considerations because understanding how to design for thermoforming is the most critical element in creating successful thermoformed products. We next move to materials (how they are made, their types and characteristics, and the various tests used to describe their properties and performance). Once design and materials are covered, tooling is discussed at length, with special attention paid not only to tooling materials, but to the overall tooling approach (male or female), and the associated forming methods and part characteristics that are related to each. The Thermoforming Tech Academy concludes with a thorough discussion of production techniques, with particular emphasis on the all-important trim processes that are a vital, though sometimes neglected, aspect of modern thermoforming.

In preparing many of the topic sections we have relied heavily on technical information provided by Monsanto Corporation, and on articles contained in the "Guide To Extruded Plastic Sheet Products" by The Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc., with contributions from The Thermoforming Institute. The SPI, in the forward to their guide, states, "This guide is intended to provide the reader with some measure of perspective in understanding the versatility inherent in the family of plastics and in the many different uses to which they may be put." The Thermoforming Institute states that their mission is "to promote good manufacturing practices and standards, share new developments among its members, and enhance communication within the custom thermoforming industry." It is in the spirit of both these stated goals that Empire West Inc. offers this online Thermoforming Tech Academy.

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