The Ins and Outs of Thermoforming Tolerances

Monday, December 28, 2020

When planning your plastics projects, it’s vital to understand thermoforming tolerances.

At Industrial Custom Products, our thermoforming experts can help guide you through a parts production experience that will support your budget, vision, and strict timelines.

In the most basic sense, tolerances help determine how exact the measurements must be in order to prevent product failure and to best accommodate different materials during the vacuum forming and thermoforming process. Tighter tolerances mean high precision while looser tolerances can afford to be slightly more variable. At Industrial Custom Products, our thermoforming tolerances can be viewed online to ensure that our standard thermoforming tolerances are in line with the expectations of our customers.  These tolerances provide a general guideline so it is always beneficial to discuss each project on an individual basis.

Different tolerances and techniques are applied in relation to the materials in question. For example, some materials, such as high-density polythene (or HDPE), tend to have larger tolerances to account for shrinkage. ABS, however, is more dimensionally stable and less susceptible to warping which allows tighter tolerance ranges. Ensuring that your selected material is suited to the shape and design you have in mind is essential for the thermoforming process.

Depending upon the complexity, size, and overall design of a thermoformed part, it may be completed by hand or by machine. For tight tolerance thermoformed parts, our technicians utilize 5-axis CNC machines that can trim parts to exact specifications. However, some components can be cut-out routed by hand. This decision relies on several factors from materials and design to budget needs and overall cost.

By verifying that your thermoformed parts are exactly catered to your specific project, we can ensure that they will perform all of their critical functions without compromise. Our thermoforming tolerance experts will review and confirm that each part satisfies its purpose and potential throughout the entire production process. This means no uncertainty regarding the quality or functionality of any of your components.

Industrial Custom Products prioritizes clarity, communication, and consistency of service. If you have any questions regarding the thermoformed parts production process or about specific thermoforming tolerances, our team is here to help. For more details on thermoforming and design management, project leaders and engineers can contact us today at (612) 781-2255 or request a quote online for additional information.