Industrieverband langlebige Kunststoffprodukte und Mehrwegsysteme e. V.
Fachwissen Injection moulding versus Thermoforming
pro-K Fachgruppe
Thermoplastische Platten

Technical Information Injection moulding versus Thermoforming

Stand: September 2015

List of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Plastic thermoforming
3. Plastic injection moulding
4. A comparison : Injection moulding – Thermoforming

1. Introduction

In recent years production technologies in thermoforming have made major progress. In many cases it can no longer be seen at first glance if it is an injection moulded or a thermoformed component. Not only permanently improvements in machine technology are responsible for this. Now the entire process chain from semi-finished material via it’s processing and finishing on to completion of the customer product has meanwhile achieved the highest quality standards.
A permanently growing amount of available tooling reflects ever new application possibilities for thermoforming. Multi-layer materials, decorative films, printed semi-finished materials, electrically conductive semi-finished materials together with many specially equipped materials are mentioned here just as an example.
The whole range of thermoforming opens the most varied areas of application: from the classic processing of film material for packaging applications via the manufacture of workpiece carriers and technical formed parts from sheet material through to the manufacture of hollow parts and other special applications.
Advantages over injection moulding can often be found if one compares the total costs of both processes. But a mainly clearly shorter work-through up to product manufacture is frequently an argument for thermoforming. Additionally construction and manufacture of thermoforming tooling generally offers clear price advantages in comparison with those of injection moulding tooling. Of course with all comparisons the quantity or start size together with special technical demands must be considered.
Whilst with injection moulding almost all shapes and details can be represented, thermoforming in comparison to injection moulding is limited by the use of semi-finished materials. This supposed “disadvantage” can be turned into an advantage when the possibilities of thermoforming are known.
Both processes will play an important part in the future of plastics processing. The following comparison is intended to show a comparison in simple terms and illustrations “thermoforming versus injection moulding”.

German Version