Advanced Thermoforming Solutions

Thermoforming vs. RIM

Reaction Injection Molding (RIM) has always been an alternative for prototyping, but recently it’s been presented as a good avenue for small to medium production runs. The truth is that thermoforming is generally a much better option for runs of 100 – 2,000 products per year than RIM. The table below explains some of the reasons why.

Thermoforming

 ThermoformingReaction Injection Molding (RIM)
Process OverviewA sheet of plastic is heated to a pliable temperature, then shaped to a mold using air pressure, a vacuum or both. Two liquid raw materials, polylol and isocyanate, are mixed at a mix-head, then injected into a heated cavity mold. When the material meets the heated tool surface, the chemicals begin to expand to fill the cavity, then solidify into the final part.
Finished Part Appearance
  • Can be molded in color & texture
  • Offers a high quality unpainted finish
  • Produces an unattractive surface with visible swirling
Finishing Options
  • High quality finish
  • Easy to paint or silkscreen if desired
  • Surface must be painted in all visible areas
  • Is more difficult to finish
Tooling Costs$$$$$
Max Part Size10' x 18' x 40"4' x 6'
Finished Part WeightLighterHeavier
Minimum Draft0° or Negative
Minimum Nominal Wall Thickness0.060"0.125"
Design Features
  • Can accommodate molded in attachment points like snap fit features by using undercuts or other molded features
  • Reduces number of bosses required for part assembly, reducing per-part costs and assembly time
  • Cannot form-in snap fit features
  • Increases part costs, tooling costs, project lead times and assembly time and costs
Environmental Considerations
  • Fully recyclable products & manufacturing byproducts
  • Non-recyclable products

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