thermoforming materials

Choosing the right material for your project! Here is some information on featured plastic materials for the thermoforming or vacuum forming industry.

High impact polystyrene sheeting (HIPS)

HIPS is the most versatile thermoplastic material. It is a Polystyrene modified material containing 5-15% rubber content, which makes it more durable and higher impact resistant. HIPS has excellent thermal stability and can use a large amount of recycled material without reducing its performance. The amount of recycled material used in the thermoforming process can be up to 60%.

Advantages:

  • Low cost
  • Recyclable
  • High impact resistance
  • Easy to form
  • Easy to color and print
  • Non-toxic, safe to use

Main Applications:

  • Food packaging
  • Disposable tableware
  • Retail packaging

polypropylene (PP)

PP is the lightest universal plastic at low density of 0.89-0.91 g/cm³. It is a durable thermoplastic that can provide good resistance to cracking and bending. PP also has great heat resistance, its melting point is up to 167 ℃, which means products made of PP can be microwavable and be sterilized at high temperatures.

Advantages:

  • Recyclable
  • Direct food contact
  • High temperature resistance
  • Good chemical resistance
  • Non-toxic, safe to use

Main Applications:

  • Food containers
  • Plastic tableware
  • Packaging Trays

High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

HDPE is known for its high strength-to-density ratio. It offers excellent impact resistance, low moisture absorption, and has high tensile strength. In the thermoforming industry, HDPE is commonly used where high strength, durability, and toughness are required.

Advantages:

  • Recyclable
  • High tensile strength
  • High impact resistance
  • Good chemical resistance
  • Non-toxic, safe to use

Main Applications:

  • Rigid packaging and protectives
  • Food storage containers
  • Plant containers

Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

LDPE is a widely used thermoplastic polymer with low tensile strength but good ductility. It offers excellent chemical and impact resistance, electrical properties, and easy to manufacture. LDPE is being used where flexibility and softness are required.

Advantages:

  • Recyclable
  • Low cost
  • Good impact resistance
  • Good chemical  resistance
  • Non-toxic, safe to use

Main Applications:

  • Beer can rings
  • Food packaging
  • Disposable liners
  • Industrial sheeting

Polylactic Acid (PLA)

PLA is a bio-based thermoplastic derived from 100% renewable resources, such as corn starch,  sugarcane, cassava, or sugar beets. As the environmental concerns grow, the demand for biodegradable materials like PLA is increasing. Considering its degradability, PLA is mostly used in the packaging of short-term shelves. Although PLA is brittle, bad heat resistance, and poor at barriers itself, it can be improved by modification such as copolymerization or blending with other materials. 

Advantages:

  • Compostable and biodegradable

Main Applications:

  • Disposable tableware
  • Food packaging
  • Vegetable containers
  • 3D printing

In addition to the above materials, there are also some common materials like PET (A-PET/R-PET), PVC, PETG, ABS, and so on, which are widely used in thermoforming and other industries. Contact us today for a free professional consultation to learn how we can help you with material selection.

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