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ResourcesCustom Thermoformed Trays - Types, Industries & Options

Custom thermoformed trays are an ideal packaging option for many products in a wide range of industries. At Indepak, we’ve been a leading manufacturer of custom plastic trays for more than 50 years. Here’s a quick look at the thermoforming process and the types of trays we can provide for your products.

What Is Thermoforming?

Indepak specializes in thermoforming thin-gauge rigid plastic materials. To create trays and other types of packaging, such as blister packaging and clamshell packaging, we place thin sheets of thermoform plastic into machines known as thermoformers.

The thermoforming machine heats the plastic to a malleable temperature and then the plastic is forced into custom molds. The plastic is then cooled, and any excess plastic is trimmed away from your tray or package and reused for another project.

We can use vacuum force to push the plastic into the molds or pressure molding, which includes both a vacuum as well as pressure to ensure that the plastic fits perfectly over the mold. Vacuum force is a good option for simple designs and tends to be a bit less expensive. However, if you have a more complicated design, pressure molding is probably the best option to consider.

Types of Thermoformed Trays

Thermoformed trays may be needed for many applications, including for specialty foods, for medical kits, business-to-business tote trays, agricultural products and many retail products. As a thermoformed tray supplier, Indepak can create thermoformed plastic trays for any industry or product, including the following.

Specialty Foods Trays

If you need thermoformed trays for food packaging, we have decades of experience creating packaging for just about any food item. We can create plastic trays for cookies, chocolates or crackers. We also can create plastic trays with lids for veggie or fruit plates or deli items as well as trays for items such as meat, poultry and fish. No matter what type of specialty food item you produce, we can design the perfect tray or perhaps a custom clamshell or tub (with or without a lid.)

We work with many materials approved for food contact, including PET, PETG, rPET, HDPE, starch-based biomaterials and more. We also are experts at creating trays suitable for modified atmosphere packaging. Our design team will work with your lidding supplier to ensure material compatibility. Additionally, we have FSSC 22000 certification, which is an ISO-based standard recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative.

Medical & Pharmaceutical Trays

If you need thermoformed trays for medical kits or to hold medications, we can provide this service. We produce low-particulate medical packaging, intended for non-sterile or downstream sterilization applications. Our detailed record keeping ensures traceability down to the box level.

Retail Trays

We design trays for a variety of retail packaging. For instance, perhaps you manufacture tool kits, we can design a tray with cavities for each tool that will protect and display each piece of the kit. We can design custom thermoformed trays for toy sets, office supplies, beauty kits or whatever else you manufacture. These trays can then be placed into an exterior plastic box, which we also can design and produce for you.

If your retail tray will hold static-sensitive products, such as electronics, we can design electronics packaging that protects these fragile items. Indepak is a long-time leader in thermoformed electronics packaging. We work with a variety of materials from dissipative to conducting, and our engineering professionals will work closely with you to define the appropriate design and materials for your application.

Agricultural Trays

We often design custom plastic trays for plants and seedlings. These can be used on-site at farms or used for selling plants at garden shops and nurseries. These trays can be produced with or without cavities, whichever suits your present needs.

Industrial Trays

If you need internal or business-to-business tote trays, we can help. We’ve worked with many high-tech companies as well as other industries to create trays for all types of automation applications. We produce industrial packaging with tight tolerances and design these trays so that they are inherently accurate and work flawlessly in your process.

Sustainable Packaging Options

These days, consumers are always looking for products with eco-friendly packaging and we have many sustainable options at Indepak. Virtually all of the materials we use at Indepak are recyclable. We also can create custom plastic trays and other types of packaging using recycled content and perhaps even starch-based biomaterials.

Additionally, we are committed to continuously striving to minimize the impact of our activities on the environment. We are located in Portland, Oregon, which has long been a center of environmental innovation. Indepak was recycling, reducing and reusing long before it was popular or required. We go beyond ISO 14001:2015 requirements, resulting in a very low-waste operation in every part of our company.

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