Advanced Thermoforming Solutions

Thermoforming Materials Selection: From the Design Guide Chapter 4


Thermoforming Handbook Chapter 4

This is the fourth post in our series from our Thermoforming Handbook, a guide that, until now, was only available to our customers and partners. We’re releasing the whole thing in a series of posts right here on our blog.

We’ve previously released:

If you’re someone who uses custom plastic manufacturing professionally and you’re interested in getting your own copy, just send us a message and we’ll be happy to send you one. As always, these are general guidelines. Any project or design needs to be reviewed by a qualified thermoforming professional before it goes into production, and the sooner you get one of those qualified professionals involved in the process, the smoother things tend to go.  If you’re looking for a qualified professional, we know a few who would be happy to help.


Much like snowflakes, every thermoforming material is unique. Unlike snowflakes, thermoforming materials won’t melt the minute you touch them; and the differences don’t end there.

Common Materials & Applications

MaterialDescriptionSample Applications
ABSOne of the most widely used thermoplastic materials due to its impact strength, rigidity and abrasion resistance. ABS material has good chemical resistance, works well in
high temperature and is moisture-resistant.

  • Equipment enclosures

  • Medical device enclosures

  • Vending displays

  • Automotive trim

  • Protective headgear

  • Appliance enclosures

  • Storage bins

AcrylicCombines clarity, weatherability and impact strength.

  • Skylights

  • Windows

  • Transparent or tinted enclosures

PETGA transparent copolyester with high-impact strength and chemical-resistant properties.

  • Medical trays and totes

  • Signs

  • Displays

  • Machine guards and housings

PolycarbonateVersatile, tough and well
suited for a variety of demanding and high heat applications.

  • High heat

  • High-impact applications

  • Great for outdoor use

  • Transparent or tinted applications

PolyethyleneA highly versatile material
with high impact, rigidity, excellent flexibility and outstanding chemical resistance.

  • Truck bed liners

  • Lids, drums and storage containers

  • Crates and pallets

  • Green energy and demanding outdoor applications

  • Portable toilets

PVC/ABSUsed for applications where fire-rated sheet is required. The combination of PVC and ABS provides very high-impact strength with excellent ductility and formability.

  • Fire-rated equipment enclosures

  • Mass transit interiors

  • Medical equipment, lab automation and high-tech enclosures

  • Fitness equipment

  • Kiosk/POS enclosures

PVC/AcrylicUsed for applications where
fire-rated sheet is required. The combination of PVC and acrylic provides very high-impact strength and formability with a greater resistance to a broad range of corrosive chemicals and cleaning solutions.

  • Aircraft interiors

  • Electronic enclosures

  • Medical equipment covers

  • Mass transit

  • Testing equipment enclosures

TPOUsed for interior and exterior applications requiring low temperature toughness and dimensional stability. This material has excellent chemical resistance and can be manufactured with UV stabilizers.

  • Automotive interior/ exterior components

  • Construction equipment enclosures

  • Green energy and demanding outdoor applications

  • RV and heavy truck interior/exterior components

  • Sheet metal conversions and fiberglass

Molding in Color

To paint or not to paint? That is the question. Well, at least it’s a question you can answer yourself when you’re thermoforming.

  • Thermoforming materials are available in 1000s of colors.
  • Thermoformed parts look great right out of the mold and don’t require paint.
  • Thermoformed parts can be painted to achieve a specific look.

Too Many Options? We Can Help.

We’ve been doing this for nearly 70 years, and we’d be happy to lend our experience to your project.  If you’re not sure what material is right for your project, we’d be happy to help or even give a second opinion. And even if we don’t have the answer, we have the relationships in place to get the answers you need.

Why not send us a message, and we can find the right material match for your next project.

Tell us about your project.

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