Advanced Thermoforming Solutions

The In’s and Out’s of Pressure Forming – How Ray Products Offers a Complete Partnership

Ray Products The In’s and Out’s of Pressure Forming Blog Image

For over 70 years, Ray Products has built a reputation as a premier provider of pressure formed plastic parts. With a commitment to constantly upgrade our facilities with the highest quality equipment and latest technology, today we can manufacture custom plastic parts using our advanced, heavy-gauge pressure forming process, delivering the highest quality in the business while reducing tooling costs and turnaround times. With our experience, Ray Products will help guide what pressure forming is, the advantages of pressure forming, and what makes Ray Products a complete partner for your next project.

What is Pressure Forming?

In thermoforming, there are two types of processes, vacuum forming and pressure forming, used to form parts. Pressure forming is a plastic manufacturing process in which a sheet of plastic material is heated to become moldable. Once this is achieved, the plastic material is pressed against a 3D mold by vacuuming out the air between the sheet and the mold, while air pressure is applied above the plastic sheet. This results in highly detailed parts with zero residual stress. The ability to easily include molded-in textures, pressure formed parts can minimize assembly time and costs since they do not need to be painted.

With these benefits in mind, pressure forming is most often used as an alternative to injection molding for large parts with small to medium runs. Some examples of where pressure forming could be utilized include:

  • Detailed Custom Components
  • Medical Equipment Enclosures
  • Multi-Part Assemblies
  • Automation Equipment
  • Cosmetic Instrument Panels
  • Vented Equipment Enclosures

The results of pressure forming and injection molding can be so similar that the most common question we hear is people asking if the part is injection molded. If you have seen Ray Products at trade shows, you have probably seen our trademarked slogan, “This is NOT Injection Molding,” on a sign or heard it in a conversation.

This motto pays tribute to the value we bring to the table, as our team can produce a part that not only mimics the aesthetics of an injection molded part but one that comes at a fraction of the tooling cost and lead time.

What Makes Ray Products Different as a Thermoforming Service Provider?

While the thermoforming process itself is fairly standard across the industry, there are some key differences that make one thermoforming company the right choice over the other. At Ray Products, we use our expertise every day to help customers identify new opportunities to use pressure forming to result in the most beneficial process for their needs.

Again, the process itself is standard, but the capabilities within this process are also key factors when choosing a thermoforming company. Ray Products takes pride in our ability to never back down from the complex challenges, always looking to balance the total cost of manufacturing. When molding custom parts, we choose to mold-in all cosmetic features, something that not every provider does, and often we use formed perimeter undercuts, which add strength and rigidity.

What helps to differentiate Ray Products is the technology, personnel and quality procedures of our company. Ray Products is special in that we have generational ownership that spans over 70 years. When being compared to other custom thermoforming companies, our most unique identifier is our full 10-foot by 18-foot thermoforming machine and fully robotic six-axis trimming. With these capabilities, Ray Products has the largest thermoforming equipment on the West Coast as well as the most technically advanced robotic trimming.

What You Can Expect When Working with Ray Products

Getting started with Ray Products is easy. After receiving some information about what needs to be manufactured, our team will be ready to get the process started. By identifying your finished part expectations and requirements upfront, we ensure that they align with our process capabilities.

During this initial discovery phase, we are also happy to answer any questions. A common question we receive is, “What material can be pressured form?” We are always happy to share that any thermoplastic material can be pressure formed, allowing for the same possibilities as injection molding. Another common question that customers have is what part sizes we can mold. While we do have the ability to make large parts, we can also form smaller parts, sometimes as small as 8” x 8”. After this phase, we can also point you in the right direction if thermoforming is not the best fit for your project.

Once our initial phase is complete, our team will walk through quotes, tooling lead times, fixtures, inspection criteria, first articles and production scenarios. As a custom molder working with a diverse group of customers and industries, our team can work with your idea at any level. From initial ideas to specific product launch plans, our ability to accommodate a wide range of projects helps us to work within any framework you may have.

Ray Products – We are a Complete Partner

One of the biggest differences that customers find when they work with us is that Ray Products is a complete partner. We believe that being able to provide a solution to the entire job is valuable. That’s why we go beyond just being a thermoforming company adding fully robotic trimmingpainting, finishing, assembly and logistics services as supplemental services to our core capabilities to help make your product manufacturing faster and more cost-effective.

In addition to those added capabilities, we 100% build to print, which means custom is our calling card. As part of this, we provide engineering assistance, DFM, tool review, process evaluation and suitability. If a customer has an advanced need beyond our capabilities, including requiring additional engineering support or advanced design help, Ray Products can introduce them to one of our specialized partners.

We’ve been thermoforming experts for a while, but one thing that holds true is our motivation to improve, which has always been our driving force. In the early 1950s and ’60s, vacuum forming and fabrication was all we did. Quickly, this led to a demand for improved part detail, and subsequently early pressure forming capabilities at Ray Products.

Through the years, our success has been built with a formula that includes our commitment to investing in new forming equipment that allows for part detail to be consistent and part production to be economical. Also, we understand that tooling plays a big role in pressure forming part success, which creates the need to surround ourselves with the best toolmakers possible. Last but certainly not least is material, which is vital to any plastic manufacturing process. This is why we work so hard to align with high-quality raw material suppliers. When all of this comes together, customers receive the highest quality parts at competitive prices, and when we have delivered that, we’ve done our job the right way.

Click here to learn more about Ray Products. Ready to get started with your next thermoforming project? Request a quote here.

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