If you’ve been searching for thermoforming companies, Indepak has been an industry leader for more than 50 years. We’ve been designing custom packaging and parts since 1967 and can create just about anything you might need. Here’s a look at thermoforming and the type of custom packaging solutions we provide for our clients.
Thermoforming: How The Process Works
We have many clients who ask about thermoforming vs. pressure forming or thermoforming vs. vacuum forming. Let’s talk for a minute about the differences between these two thermoforming methods.
Thermoforming, in general, involves heating up plastic to a malleable temperature and then fitting or contouring that plastic into a mold. Huge machines, known as thermoformers, are used for this process. We have multiple lines of high-speed thermoforming equipment at Indepak, allowing us to meet the needs of a diverse clientele.
Vacuum thermoforming is a type of thermoforming where vacuum force is used to fit the plastic onto the mold. With pressure forming, we use vacuum force, but we also apply additional pressure. Pressure forming is a good option for more complicated packaging designs, while vacuum forming might be ideal for less expensive packaging where the design is fairly simple without many details.
Pressure forming is more expensive than vacuum forming, but you tend to end up with a higher quality finished product. Again, vacuum forming might be fine for smaller production runs or for simple packaging designs. If you have a larger production run or simply need more detailed packaging, pressure forming is the way to go.
When it comes to thermoforming, you have thermoforming companies that provide thin gauge thermoforming and thick or heavy-gauge thermoforming. Thin gauge thermoforming generally is used to create custom packaging, such as clamshell packaging, blister packs, thermoformed trays, thin plastic tubs (and lids), displays and so forth.
Heavy-gauge thermoforming is used to create items such as heavy-duty enclosures for medical equipment or electronic equipment. It can be used to create car parts, such as bumpers. Even fitness equipment will have enclosures created with heavy-gauge thermoform plastic materials.
Indepak provides thin gauge thermoforming services. Our equipment is capable of processing materials from .008” to .080” and foam materials from approximately 1/16” to ¼”. This is the ideal thickness for most types of custom plastic packaging, including specialty foods packaging, medical & pharmaceutical packaging, retail packaging and much more.
Stock Vs. Custom Thermoforming
When we talk about custom thermoforming, this means that we are creating a unique customized packaging design just for you. Some companies will purchase stock packaging for their products, and this type of non-custom packaging is not designed for a specific product but rather to meet the needs of many clients.
For instance, a restaurant might purchase stock clamshell containers for takeaway foods. The level of customization isn’t as important because the container is simply holding leftovers or carry-out meals. Generally, when you talk about stock packaging, we are talking about tubes, trays (with or without lids) and clamshells and not packaging such as trap blisters, which do need to be designed with a specific product in mind.
When thermoforming companies design a custom package, they typically keep the mold on hand for future use. At Indepak, we will keep your molds so that re-ordering packaging is as easy as possible. This also reduces costs because we aren’t starting from scratch and creating a new package design and mold. In some cases, even for a new project, we might have a pre-existing mold that meets your packaging needs. This might be especially true with a clamshell or tray design.
Types Of Packaging We Can Create
At Indepak, we can create traditional types of packaging, such as blister packaging. This includes trap blisters, face seal blisters, full-face seal blisters, full card blisters, mock clamshells, clamshells and tri-fold packaging that can stand on its own or be hung from a peg.
We can create any type of thermoform tray you might need. From a simple tray with a single cavity to trays with multiple cavities. For instance, we can create a custom tray to hold vials of medicine and syringes or create a tray for a frozen meal using materials that can go from the freezer to the oven or microwave.
We also can create custom pots or tubs to hold food items, such as butter, sour cream and yogurt. We can create packaging suitable for use as modified atmosphere packaging, and we will work with your lidding film supplier to ensure material compatibility.
Of course, not all packaging fits into these common categories, sometimes you need something entirely unique and custom. Our design team will study your product carefully and create an innovative design that displays and protects your items to their best advantage.
A Commitment To Sustainability
These days, more and more thermoforming companies are focusing on sustainability, and at Indepak, we’ve been reusing, recycling and reducing for many years, far before it was popular or required. Our facility is located in Portland, Oregon, a city known for its environmental innovation.
Most of the materials we use at Indepak are recyclable, and we strive to be a low-waste operation in every part of our business, and not just our production process. We are committed to minimizing our impact on the environment. When it comes to sustainable packaging, we offer our customer eco-friendly options such as:
• Designing smaller packages with less material
• Using easy-to-recycle materials such as PET, PETG and HDPE
• Creating combination designs, such as trap blisters, that require less plastic
• Using materials with recycled content, such as rPET and others
• Offering alternative materials such as starch-based bioplastics
At Indepak, we also offer several additional services that many other thermoforming companies might not provide. This includes package fulfillment services, inventory management and on-time shipping. No matter what type of packaging you might need, Indepak can provide you with a high-quality option that fits your needs and budget. Give us a call or email us today and let’s get started on your custom thermoforming project.