Advanced Thermoforming Solutions


What to Do in Long Beach (AKA Our Backyard)

Trade Shows

Long Beach, California skyline at sunset

We love getting to meet with engineers, designers and manufacturers at Design-2-Part shows around the country. But we look forward to the Southern California D2P show every year because it’s in Long Beach, which is practically our backyard. (If, you know, the Pacific Ocean could be a backyard.)

If you’ll be in town on September 12th and 13th, here are our recommendations for what not to miss.

  1. Check out the waterfront. Long Beach is where city meets resort, and the waterfront is the perfect place to experience the best of both worlds. Stroll along Shoreline Park and admire the boats in the harbor, visit the lighthouse, and poke around the fun and unique shops of Shoreline Village.
  1. Get out, in or under the water. Don’t miss the world-renowned Aquarium of the Pacific. With over 11,000 animals in more than 50 exhibits, the aquarium recreates many of the Pacific’s unique ecosystems. If you want to see marine life in the wild, consider a whale watch. And if you’re extending your stay and have some extra time on your hands, take the Catalina Express out to the Catalina Island, a breathtaking destination 22 miles off the coast.
  1. Visit the Queen Mary. Built in the 1930s and retired in 1967, the historic Queen Mary is an ocean liner-turned-hotel permanently docked in Long Beach. Whether you book a stay or just drop by for a drink, meal, tour or special event, the Queen Mary is a must-see.
  1. Grab a bite to eat. There are many dining options near the Long Beach Convention Center, so you’re bound to find something right up your alley. For breakfast or a light bite, we love Crème de la Crepe. For lunch, the sandwiches at the family-owned Modica’s Deli are excellent. In the mood for a delicious meal with a gorgeous view? Check out Parkers’ Lighthouse.
  1. Come say hi. We’ll be at Booth #143 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday the 12th and from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Thursday the 13th. Come find us, say hi and let us know what you’re working on right now. We’d love to tell you a bit about thermoforming and what our custom-manufactured plastics can do for you.

Register here if you haven’t already. We hope to see you there


Doing Business the Right Way


By Brian Ray

Brian Ray of Ray ProductsWe’re fast approaching our 70th year in business here at Ray Products. As I take stock of where we started, where we are today and the future, I’m astounded by how much the world has changed. Globally, our technological capabilities have grown exponentially – enabling businesses like ours to better serve our customers, employees and investors.

But Ray Products was in business long before the technological boom of the nineties and aughts, and will continue to be, thanks to a philosophy that began with my grandfather: the importance of doing business the right way.

One of the most revolutionary changes to come out of the internet and social media age is access. We are exposed to the thoughts and practices of world-famous CEOs and thought leaders in real time. On the one hand, this is invaluable: We have unfiltered access to the minds of some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world. The downside is that this sometimes leads to a skewed perspective: the idea that a business or company is equivalent to its founder or leader, rather than the sum of its parts. This is particularly worrying when the CEO is a larger-than-life celebrity figure whose immediate focus is short-term profits.

In reality, a successful business is built on a foundation of many people: employees, investors, suppliers, customers. And while a cutthroat and ambitious CEO can certainly propel a company into enormous wealth in the short term, that by no means guarantees longevity. Whether or not a company prides itself on doing business the right way is a much better indicator of long-term success.

So what exactly do I mean by doing business “the right way”? A few different things:

  • Quality Product: Building your business around a product or service that people need – and doing it well.
  • Fair Employer: Treating your employees with respect, creating a safe and productive work environment, and compensating fairly – while simultaneously holding them to reasonable standards.
  • Reliable Partner: Establishing solid relationships with partners and suppliers based on trust and mutual respect.

Of course, at the end of the day, a business is a business – and the company’s bottom line is the highest priority. But once any of these pillars crumbles entirely in deference to profits, the collapse of the business as a whole is almost inevitable.

As BusinessInsider (BI) noted earlier this year, many U.S.-based companies have, over the last few decades, begun to equate long-term success with maximizing short-term profit for shareholders. In its “Better Capitalism” series, BI makes a compelling argument for more ethical business practices, not simply because it’s the right thing to do (which it is), but also because it’s better for the economy.

Indeed, from prioritizing the well-being of employees to putting an emphasis on valuing employees, customers and communities, some of the most successful companies in the world – Google, In-N-Out, St. Jude’s, AT&T, P&G, Nike – are doing business the right way.

Ray Products was founded in 1949, nearly half a century before the internet age. At the time, Ray Products’ primary output was plastic baby bassinets. Today, we manufacture a wide range of thermoformed plastic parts for many industries, including medical equipment, transportation, green energy, automotive, building & construction and recreational equipment.

But over the years, our commitment to our customers, employees and partners has never wavered – nor will it. By continuing to invest in technology, our customers, partners and employees, we easily have another 70 years ahead of us.

A Brief Overview of Thermoforming – Sign up Below for our Free Handbook


This post is a preview of the in-depth information included in our Thermoforming Handbook, a guide previously only available to our customers and partners.

If you would like a copy of our design handbook (or any other technical materials), please click here to access our library page.


The Process of Thermoforming

Both pressure forming and vacuum forming are processes that are easiest to understand when they’re explained visually.


Step 1

First, a sheet of thermoplastic is heated until it becomes pliable and moldable.

Thermoforming - A Sheet of Plastic is Heated


Step 2: Vacuum Forming

In the vacuum forming process, the plastic is stretched over a single male mold, and air is vacuumed out from underneath the mold.
Vacuum forming illustration.


Step 2: Pressure Forming

In pressure forming, the heated plastic is placed between male and female molds, which are then pressed against the plastic sheet using compressed air at a pressure that ranges from 20 to 100 psi.
Pressure Forming Illustration


Step 3

Finally, the now molded plastic part is removed from the mold and allowed to cool. It’s then moved to a trimming station where the excess plastic is removed with a six-axis fully robotic trimming machine.

Thermoforming final step.



Key Advantages of Thermoforming

Cost at Quantity

If your part requirements range from the low hundreds to the high thousands, thermoforming is almost always the chosen process.

Large Part Capability

Our thermoforming equipment, the largest on the West Coast, can create single pieces up to a full 10 feet x 18 feet, with up to 40 inches of depth.

Huge Thermoplastic Material Selection

Any color, including metallics, fire-rated, impact resistant, UV resistant, antibacterial properties, ROHS/REACH compliant, recyclable and so much more.

Complex Geometry Without High Costs

Make complex shapes without high tooling costs.

Part-to-Part Repeatability

Consistency and precision from part number 1 to part number 5,555; with no warpage, improved flatness and zero residual stress.

Molded-In-Features for Easy Assembly

Make assembly cheaper and faster with undercuts, molded-in attachment points, tabs, slots and more.

Beautiful & Flexible Finishing Options

Mold in color and texture, paint, silk screen, EMI/RFI shielding and more. The choice is yours.

Lower Cost Design Changes

Make changes quickly without spending thousands on new or reworked tooling.

Pick a Texture, Any Texture

From high-gloss to matte to custom, you’ve got options for textures.



Comparing Vacuum Forming & Pressure Forming

 Vacuum FormingPressure Forming
DescriptionA sheet of plastic material is heated to pliability, then pressed against a 3D mold by vacuuming out the air between the sheet and the mold.A sheet of plastic material is heated to pliability, then pressed against a 3D female cavity mold by vacuuming out the air between the sheet and the mold, and applying compressed air from 20 to 100 psi above the plastic sheet.
Common Applications
  • Outdoor UV-resistant projects

  • High-gloss surfaces

  • High-impact applications

  • Recycled materials applications
  • Complex shapes

  • Parts with vents or louvers

  • Projects with tighter tolerances

  • Molded-in attachment points
Often Used to Create
  • Point-of-purchase displays

  • Automotive aftermarket, interior/exterior

  • Recreational vehicles

  • Pool and spa components

  • Dunnage material handling trays and pallets

  • Fitness equipment

  • Reusable medical trays or bins
  • Medical device enclosures

  • Office equipment

  • Vented equipment enclosures

  • Scientific instruments

  • Detailed components

  • Control panels

  • Multi-part assemblies

  • Kiosk/POS enclosures

  • Mass transit components

  • Equipment enclosures, bezels, housings and
DimensionsMale tool, vacuum formed parts to be dimensioned to the inside surfaces of the part.Female tool, pressure formed parts to be dimensioned to the outside surfaces of the part.

Top Five Things to Do in Santa Clara

Trade Shows

Outside of Levi's Football Stadium

It’s no secret that Design-2-Part Santa Clara is one of our favorite trade shows—mostly because of the fantastic people and cutting-edge technology we encounter year after year. But the fact that it’s in Santa Clara is also a big draw, and over the years, we find ourselves returning to the same great spots while we’re there. If you’re headed to D2P Santa Clara later this month, here are a couple of things we highly recommend doing while you’re in town.


  1. Visit Levi’s Stadium. As we mentioned last year, our CEO Brian is a die-hard, unapologetic 49ers fan—and before you say anything, he wants to state for the record that he has a good feeling about the 2018-2019 season. Even if you don’t share Brian’s zeal for the 49ers, the 49ers Museum is worth a visit for any football fan. It’s only open Friday through Sunday, so stop by on your way out of town after the show.


  1. Grab a bite. Santa Clara has some excellent dining options. If you want to go all in at Levi’s Stadium, check out Bourbon Steak or Bourbon Pub. Other popular spots include Birk’s Restaurant, a classic bistro-style steakhouse, and The Fish Market.


  1. Get some culture. From the beautiful Mission Santa Clare de Asis church at Santa Clara University to California’s Great America theme park, there’s something for everyone in Santa Clara.


  1. Experience 3D Printing. For the first year ever, D2P Santa Clara will have a 3D Printing Pavilion dedicated exclusively to 3D printing technology. Don’t miss it!


  1. Come Say Hi. We’ll be at Booth #250 from 9:30 am – 4:00 pm, both Wednesday and Thursday. Come meet us and find out what makes our custom-manufactured plastics the best in the business—and how we can help make your business the best it can be.

Register here if you haven’t already. We hope to see you there!

Medical device manufacturing events we’re attending this month

Trade Shows

Ray Products at medical device manufacturing event

At Ray Products, we have been creating 3D thermoformed plastic parts for our clients, including those in the medical device manufacturing industry, for more than 65 years. But with the latest developments in pressure-forming technology and the proven benefits to the medical device manufacturing sector, we’re making the industry a special focus in 2018.

Most recently, our President, Brian Ray, and our Vice President of Sales & Development, Jason Middleton, led a Medical Design and Outsourcing webinar about the benefits of pressure forming medical device enclosures.

Throughout the webinar you’ll learn about the significant cost savings associated with pressure forming as well as the aesthetic and performance improvements of pressure-formed medical devices. The 45-minute webinar covers the entire pressure-forming process-from design and tooling to material selection to trimming and finishing-going over anything an engineer or industrial designer may need to know about pressure forming medical device enclosures.

If you weren’t able to attend, you can find it here: Medical Design and Outsourcing webinar.

To kick off February, we’re heading back to MD&M West, a three-day industry event where the best minds in medtech and manufacturing meet to share insights, discuss industry challenges and discover the latest innovations that are reshaping the industry.

MD&M West takes place February 6-8th in Anaheim, Calif. We’ll be there to answer questions and demonstrate some of the many capabilities and advantages of pressure forming medical devices.

If you’re attending MD&M West, we’d love to see you there. Stop by booth #2231 to chat about any challenges you may be experiencing, and we’ll see how we can help!

MD&M West
February 6-8
Anaheim Convention Center
800 W Katella Ave, Anaheim, CA 92802

Be our Guest & MD&M West

2017 Plastics Manufacturing Survey Results: U.S. Manufacturing at All-Time High, Growth Predicted, Shifts in Process Popularity

Plastics Manufacturing | Thermoforming

The results of our 4th annual plastics manufacturing industry survey are here. After sending our survey to thousands of plastics manufacturing customers, tabulating the results and analyzing them, we’re ready to peer into the past, present and future of the plastics manufacturing industry.


The Executive Summary

Don’t have time to read the full report? Here are some of our most significant findings:

  • A 21% Majority of Respondents Predict Growth in Plastics Manufacturing Over the Next Year.
  • The Percentage of U.S.-Based Plastics Manufacturing (68%) Is Higher Than It’s Ever Been Since We Started Our Survey.
  • Pressure Forming Is More Popular Than Ever, Up 11% From Last Year.
  • In 2017, 100% Recyclability Was Less Important Than It Was in 2014.
  • 92% of Engineers Demand a Prototype Before Going to Production.
  • Quality Is, & Probably Forevermore Will Be, the #1 Attribute Customers Look for in a Plastics Manufacturer.


Who We Surveyed & Why

Our goal is to attract responses from a wide, representative group of people who use plastics manufacturing on a regular basis throughout the course of their jobs. To that end, our survey was distributed to manufacturing-related tradeshow attendees, relevant publication readers and a network of industry contacts.

The result is a group that uses plastics manufacturing regularly, representing most facets of the industry and a wide range of positions within that industry.

If you’re part of that group and didn’t have a chance to take the survey, just let us know and we’ll make sure you’re invited to next year’s survey.


Our First Trip to DeviceTalks & Our Return To MD&M West

Pressure Forming

A Thermoformer's Booth at a Trade Show

This week, we made our first appearance as exhibitors at DeviceTalks West in Costa Mesa.

DeviceTalks are a series of three events held annually in Boston, Minnesota and Orange County, CA. They’re hosted by, which is described as the “journal of record for the medical device industry.” Compared to other medical device conferences, MassDevice is a bit shorter (just two days), and perhaps more focused on presentations from big-name keynote speakers.

The 2017 Orange County program was split between two tracks, one called “Building Better Companies,” targeted at senior executives; and another named “Building Better Products,” targeted at engineering managers and their teams.

We’ve been working with medical device manufacturers throughout the history of our company, but recent advances in pressure-forming technology and our own experience in that industry have made the medical device manufacturing sector a special focus for Ray Products. With that in mind, and the show’s location in our own backyard, showing up this year seemed like a no-brainer.

If you missed us at DeviceTalks, you can see us at MD&M West in Anaheim February 6–8. We’ll be there to answer questions about pressure forming medical devices, demonstrate some of the process’s capabilities and advantages, and help attendees solve any challenges they may be experiencing.

Hope to see you there!

MD&M West
February 6–8
Anaheim Convention Center / Anaheim
800 W Katella Ave Anaheim CA 92802

Register Here

Webinar: 9 Lies You’ve Been Told About Thermoforming, and 4 Truths That Will Transform Your Next Project – November 9

Design | Plastics Manufacturing | Pressure Forming | Thermoforming

A Red Thermoformed Device Enclosure

Chances are, you’ve been lied to about the capabilities of thermoforming. Those lies probably weren’t intentional. They may have come from sources with an outdated or incomplete understanding of pressure forming and vacuum forming as a process.

Wherever those lies came from, it’s time to learn the truth. And there’s no better place than the webinar we’ll be hosting in partnership with Design World on November 9 at 4 p.m. EST / 1 p.m. PST.

We’ll address the most commonly told lies about thermoforming, and share truths that you can use to cut costs, improve aesthetics and performance, and slash your manufacturing timetables with thermoforming.

9 Lies You’ve Been Told About Thermoforming
& 4 Truths That Will Transform Your Next Project

Online Webinar
Speakers: Brian Ray and Jason Middleton, with moderator Leslie Langnau
Host: Design World
Thursday, November 9, 2017
4 p.m. EST / 1 p.m. PST

Register Now

Finishing: From the Design Guide Chapter 7


Designing for Thermoforming Guide: Chapter 7

This is the seventh 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.

The last part of the thermoforming process is finishing.  This term can encompass anything that happens after the final part is trimmed, including painting, silk-screening, the attachment of fasteners and in some cases even assembly and logistics.


Sure, you can thermoform in color, but there are a few reasons you still might want to consider painting.

Painting Options

  • Standard paints
  • Custom colored paints
  • Master batching with other suppliers
  • Metallic paints
  • Multi-color parts
  • Small lot customization

Silk Screening

Silk-screened text, images and logos can be used to brand, label and improve the aesthetics of thermoformed parts.

Specialty Finishes

EMI/RF Shielding – Special copper paint, used to block interference from electronic devices.

Hot Stamping – A process where metal foil text or graphics are permanently affixed to the thermoformed plastic.

Plating – Plated plastic is plastic that has been covered in a metal coating for the purposes of EMI/RF shielding, ESD prevention, wear resistance or a thermal or chemical barrier.

Embossing/Debossing – A process where heat is used to make a 3D impression/depression on the plastic, for a detailed feature like a logo  or graphic.

Attached Fasteners

Bosses, inserts and other fasteners are attached with adhesive during the finishing process. They offer significant design flexibility, but can also increase costs.

Pressure forming allows for molded attachment points like tabs, counter- bores or counter sinks.

Tech Tip: 

Fastening is one of the most important issues to address in the design ofplasticparts.Inthermoforming,itisnotpossibletomoldina boss or insert without it being visible on both surfaces of the part. Many types of fasteners and attachment options are available, and we are ready to work with you to meet the fastening requirements of your parts.

Molded-In Features

Molded-in features like snap-fits, tabs and receiving slots are affordable fastening options, and don’t generally add significantly to the total project cost.

Molded In Thermoforming Features

Molded In Counter-Bore Fasteners Thermoforming

Bonded Bosses With Inserts

Bonded bosses with inserts can help to form a secure attachment between two parts, but they do add some costs to building the part.

Bonded Bosses With Inserts

Bonded Bosses With Sheet Metal Attachments

Tech Tip

Unlike injection molding or other processes, our bosses can be added, subtracted or moved without any impact to tooling.

We’re Ready to Help

Have questions about finishing on your next thermoforming project? We’d be happy to help.  Get in touch today.

Trimming: From the Design Guide Chapter 6


Thermoforming Design Guide Handbook Chapter 6

This is the sixth 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.

Every part that comes out of a thermoforming machine must be trimmed. In 1949 when Ray Products was founded, this process was carried out with hand tools. Today, we use high-precision 6-axis trimming robots to carry out the process quickly, and cost-effectively.


© 2019 Ray Products Company Inc. All Rights Reserved.