May 06/22

Automotive Thermoforming: A Quick Guide


Ford has estimated that electric vehicles cost 30% less in labor. Many automotive brands have transitioned (or are transitioning) to electric vehicles. It can help save manufacturers and consumers money while providing more economically friendly cars.

Recycling plastic is another tool manufacturers can use with the same end goal. But is there a way that companies can improve the manufacturing process?

Thermoforming is a modernized method of molding plastic and other materials for vehicle parts. In this guide, we will go over the benefits of automotive thermoforming and how it stacks up against other processes. Keep reading for more information!

What Is Automotive Thermoforming?

Thermoforming companies specialize in heating plastic sheets for custom-designed molds. Therefore, custom thermoforming in the automotive industry can be used for:

  • Dashboards
  • Consoles
  • Door panels
  • Bed liners
  • Bumpers
  • And more

Why is plastic beneficial? It can improve speed, and quality, and reduce costs on customized car parts. Plastic is a highly durable material. It makes an excellent choice for better performance and longevity.

Thermoforming Machine vs. Other Manufacturing

Arguably, the main benefit of using thermoforming techniques is customization. Thermoforming also boasts lower production times over other manufacturing techniques. It is highly scalable, meaning you can design large parts in less time with fewer tooling costs.

Most production tools for injection molding and rotomolding can be expensive and limit project types. For example, injection molding is not well-designed for large-scale car parts. It is better for intricate details, although this is more limited in the automotive industry, where versatility is prized.

Another benefit is thermoforming helps with recycling plastic. Brands like Chrysler recycle 40% of interior plastic parts.

Ford and Nissan have also started recycling plastic. For instance, some brands that use recycled exterior plastic include:

  • Honda
  • Nissan
  • General Motors

How Does The Machine Work?

Thermoforming plastic works through heat. The plastic sheet is melted to a specific point where it is soft and malleable. There are three ways this is accomplished:

  • Vacuum-forming
  • Pressure-forming
  • Mechanical-forming

Vacuum-forming is one of the most popular options and simplest. It involves a single mold that a vacuum helps suction it onto while heating the materials.

Pressure-forming requires two molds before placing the material and heating it. Mechanical-forming uses negative and positive molds and preheated materials.

Thermoforming can also use more than plastic materials. In addition, some of the other common thermoforming materials used are:

  • Acrylic
  • Polycarbonate
  • Polypropylene
  • PVC
  • Vinyl

Ultimately, the thermoforming process generates higher production rates through automated machines. Also, transitioning to artificial intelligence and machine learning is one of the ways 3D printing has helped boost the production output in the automotive industry.

Start Benefitting

Your company can benefit from thermoforming services through Mayco International. As one of the leading car manufacturing companies, Mayco is no stranger to its benefits and production output of this.

In sum, t offers better customization, advanced technology, and production time. Therefore, can also help save you and consumers money!

So, check out our full list of manufacturing services today to get started!