Helping You Determine What is Best for Your Custom Plastic Component

Thermoforming and injection molding are both two very popular ways to make 3D plastic parts. The process, cost and lead time are all very different when it comes to the two types of plastic molding. Thermoforming a single 3D form is created out of aluminum. With Injection molding, a double-sided 3D mold is created out of steel, aluminum or a beryllium-copper alloy. For both processes, a large amount of materials, finishes, and colors are available for molding.

Variations in Production

For thermoforming a flat sheet of plastic is heated to a malleable temperature, molded to the tool’s shape using either suction from a vacuum or both suction and pressure. When the product is finished being molded in thermoforming, the final pieces are trimmed and can be used uncoated or painted, silk-screened or have specialty coating applied.

For injection molding, the plastic pellets are heated to a liquid state and then injected into the mold. When injection molding is finished, the final pieces are removed from the mold and then may need to be painted for aesthetic reasons or silk-screened or have a specialty coatings.


Thermoforming costs less for the tooling cost. Creating a single-sided thermoforming tool is less expensive than creating a double-sided mold to be used in injection molding.  Injection molding costs more for the tooling piece, however, costs much less per produced piece.

Lead Time

Thermoforming, overall, takes less time. With a total production time of 14 weeks, tooling takes up 8 weeks and production takes 6 weeks. Injection molding takes a total of 24 weeks. It requires 16 weeks of tooling and 8 weeks of production.

Thermoforming makes it limited to allow variable thickness within a single part. Injection molding fully allows variable thickness within a single part. Plastic made through thermoforming can be used without painting afterwards. Injection molding may require a coat of paint afterwards to look finished. 

What’s Best for You?

Thermoforming is best for creating large parts and consolidating multiple parts into a single part. It is aesthetically pleasing unpainted. Injection molding is better for creating small parts with minimal consolidation. It is also great for variation, creating parts with variable thickness in a single part.

Develop Your Custom Plastic Part with Advanced Plastiform, Inc

By utilizing our services during your early development stages, we can better aid you in the middle and later stages, ultimately saving you time and money on your next project.When you are ready to get started with your custom pressure-formed product, contact Advanced Plastiform. Inc. API offers high quality, custom manufactured components to companies in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

Contact Advanced Plastiform, Inc.

Please contact us today by calling 919-404-2080 or filling out our form below to discuss your custom plastic manufacturing needs.
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