Recognized as a change leader in the thermoforming industry, API invests heavily in state-of-the-art high-speed digital forming machines and strives to develop cutting-edge processes utilizing this advanced equipment that provide our customers with continuous improvements in part quality and ongoing reduction in lead times. Each of our machines is custom-built to exacting specifications to meet the needs of our customers and are designed to offer the very best vacuum formed, pressure formed and twin-sheet formed parts possible. We use both high-speed rotary thermoforming equipment and shuttle operated equipment for maximum flexibility in scheduling to minimize order lead times.
Heavy Gauge Thermoforming Systems
Our heavy gauge thermoforming systems are capable of handling materials up to 8-foot x 9-foot with thicknesses up to .450”. Each of our plastic forming machines uses the same control systems allowing our personnel to operate each machine with minimal cross-training. As a result, our operators are able to focus their expertise on with a variety of materials and processes rather than being controlled by a piece of equipment.
With more than 60,000 square feet of dedicated thermoforming space, we supplement our manufacturing operation with a 50,000 square foot shipping warehouse and more than 110,000 square feet of tooling storage, assembly area and flex space. Totaling over 220,000 square feet of total operating space, we are able to adjust our workflows from large to small parts, big orders to small, while operating a highly accurate inventory system for customers who require Just-In-Time inventory management to keep their manufacturing operations running.
Our core manufacturing process is commonly referred to as vacuum forming. Technically, our industry defines it as heavy gauge thermoforming. Essentially, it is the heating of the extruded thermoplastic sheet to a precise temperature, and then applying vacuum and/or pressure to form the heated sheet over a mold. Many thermoformers use a variety of mold materials – wood, epoxy, and aluminum. In our regular production, API uses aluminum almost exclusively as the finished product on this mold type is far superior to other materials.
The Heavy Gauge Thermoforming Process
Thermoforming allows for the use of thermoplastic sheet manufactured using a wide variety of materials. Sheet color, impact resistance, distortion temperature, UV resistance, rigidity, and even anti-static are properties that can be specified during the sheet extrusion process to enhance the detail of your final product. Working closely with several large sheet extruders, API customizes the thermoplastic sheet to your needs using proven techniques and materials. ABS, Polyethylene, Acrylic, Styrene, and many more plastic materials are commonly used by our customers. Beyond internal properties, we can further customize products using special texturing processes during the sheet extrusion phase or during the final molding phase to produce final textures ranging from smooth to deeply textured.
The Advantages of Thermoforming
In its three basic techniques – vacuum forming, pressure forming and twin-sheet forming – thermoforming offers you many advantages in the development of your product. One of the most appealing aspects is the tooling cost. Thermoforming uses much lower molding pressures than other plastic production processes, and as such, tooling costs are lower and tooling design is quicker. Almost all quality thermoforming tooling is cast from aluminum and is cost-effective for both small and large parts.
Many of our customers utilize thermoforming exclusively due to the cost of tooling. By using less expensive tooling, these customers achieve a better return on their investment and often offset the cost of tooling in a very short period of time. In industries where continuous product changes and improvements are required to stay competitive, the thermoformed tooling is considered a major product development advantage.
One of the thermoforming frequently asked questions from our customers is about the capabilities for customization. Thermoforming also offers very low requirements for customized materials. In other processes, to obtain a custom color, finish or UV resistant material, “truckload” quantities of material may be required as a minimum order. In most cases, an extruded thermoplastic sheet can be customized in very small quantities, far less than a “truckload.” Combining the cost-effectiveness of thermoforming with the flexibility of materials and processes, many manufacturers turn to us for the speed of our product development process.
We use the inherent benefits of thermoforming throughout the product development process from early stage CAD/CAM 3D drawings to prototyping to final tool creation and ultimately into the finished product. The result is a concept to reality product development process that offers a custom-manufactured plastic part to your specifications in a cost-effective and timely manner.
Industries We Serve
Thermoforming is used to create parts and components for many different industries.
Advanced Plastiform works with a wide variety of companies in the automotive industry across the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern U.S., from vehicle manufacturers to independent parts suppliers. Thermoforming for the automotive industry requires creating custom parts using custom-designed molds or tools.
Some of the commonly thermoformed automotive parts we produce include:
- Center consoles
- Interior door panels
- Truck bed liners
- Shaped tubs for trunks
- Bumper fascias
Advanced Plastiform designs, manufactures, and delivers specific high-end plastics for the particular requirements of the healthcare industry. Our medical plastics can be customized in a wide variety of ways to best meet our clients’ needs.
Some products that we produce through medical thermoforming include:
- Equipment covers
- Packaging for pharmaceuticals and sterile equipment
- Medical trays and stands
- Large equipment panels
Advanced Plastiforms, Inc. partners with leading construction equipment manufacturers to design and produce components that can hold up to the heavy use required in construction. We use innovative techniques to ensure an accurate design that is duplicated across thousands of parts.
Some construction parts we produce include:
- Knobs and dials
- Levers and gear shifts
- Door handles
- Internal components
API is a leading supplier of custom plastics used in farm equipment and farm vehicles. Equipment utilized in agriculture must be durable, long-lasting, and be able to withstand adverse conditions. From producing tools to tractors, we provide the quality our clients need at a low cost and with fast production times.
Some parts we produce for farm equipment include:
- Knobs and dials
- Levers and gear shifts
- Door handles
- Internal components
We work with furniture manufacturers in providing plastic components that are commonly used in office and home furnishings. Our plastic parts have the durability and strength that is needed to hold up in the toughest environments.
Some parts we produce for furniture manufacturers include:
- Drawer handles and knobs
- Table and chair legs
- Chair headrests
API creates plastic components used in material handling to store, protect, and transport materials through warehouses, distribution centers, and large commercial facilities. From simple trays to large shelves, every component we make is produced with precision, accuracy, and the quality required in this industry.
Some of the parts we produce for material handling include:
- Storage containers
- Transport chutes
- Storage cylinders and drums
- Large equipment panels
- Components used for conveyor belts
API works with ATV and recreational vehicle manufacturers to create attractive, stylish accessories and components that are tough. This industry requires parts that can stand up to rough terrain and harsh conditions and we deliver.
Some of the commonly thermoformed ATV and UTV accessories and components include:
- Snowplow attachments
- Storage boxes
- Seats and seatbacks
- Gun boots
Grocery stores and restaurants use commercial refrigeration units such as open-top coolers, front-loading coolers, freezers, and walk-in coolers. Commercial refrigeration companies require components that are durable and have the ability to withstand cold temperatures. Our engineers work with our clients in developing customized components that meet all of their specific needs.
API creates thermoformed plastics that house, rearrange, upgrade, and repair complicated telecommunication networks. Thermoforming lends itself to manufacturing strong, durable components that are necessary in building, maintaining, and repairing a cellular or computer network.
Some of the parts we provide to the telecommunications industry include:
- Equipment panels
- Tubing and ducts for wires
- Exterior cases for computers
API has worked with a variety of companies across the Southeast in designing shipping trays and pallets that are essential in protecting all types of products. Our engineers work with clients to choose the appropriate material for the specific product needed. Whether you require, for example, heavy-duty, textured plastic for large automotive equipment or non-conductive materials to protect new electronics from static electricity, we work with you in providing exactly what you need.
Along with API developing custom plastic parts for automotive customers, we also partner with several large trucking suppliers in producing a wide variety of parts. From duct assemblies to specialized parts containment cases, we are able to adapt quickly as the requirements of model offerings change.
API is proud of playing a role in providing cleaner air and water in offices and commercial locations. Using thermoforming and CNC trimming, we are able to shape the large grid systems and filter modules that are required in removing particles, chemicals, and irritants from air and water. Commercial water and air filtration systems require precise detailing that our CNC robotic trimming equipment fulfills. We specialize in creating the large, complex filter grid systems needed in custom air and water filters for large commercial spaces and office buildings.
Develop your Thermoformed Product with API
With the assistance of our experienced engineering staff, you can easily design your product to be conducive to the vacuum forming process. 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 thermoforming product, contact Advanced Plastiform of North Carolina today. API offers high-quality, custom-manufactured components to companies in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennesee, and Virginia.
Ready to learn more about how our quality thermoforming custom plastic innovations can be your solution? We look forward to hearing from you.
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