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Top 6 Advantages of Thermoforming for Medical Device Manufacturing

February 14, 2023

Thermoforming is a popular manufacturing process in the medical industry, providing highly accurate, controlled processes for structural plastic skins and sturdy enclosures. This allows medical device manufacturers to build precision equipment that is both functional and aesthetically innovative. From medical carts to diagnostic equipment, thermoforming can produce precise, large covers and bezels for a range of medical and surgical products.

Thermoforming for the Medical Industry

Custom heavy gauge thermoforming companies like PMT produce medical equipment parts through pressure and vacuum forming processes. Some of the key benefits include:

1.   Cost-Effective

Thermoforming is a relatively low-cost manufacturing process compared to other methods. This makes it ideal for producing low-volume, high-complexity parts for the medical industry. It also provides a cost-effective way to manufacturing very large plastic components—some up to 6 feet in diameter! Plastic thermoforming can offer smaller quantity runs and faster production time, which is essential for maintaining cost competitiveness for larger components.

2.   Precise

The thermoforming process allows for precise molding of intricate shapes and tight tolerances. This is essential for producing high-quality medical devices that meet strict industry standards. With the heavy gauge thermoforming process, it’s possible to achieve precise specifications and sharp detail for each part produced.

3.   Versatile

The thermoforming process produces parts with a wide range of sizes, shapes and thicknesses. This makes it ideal for producing a variety of medical devices, including highly engineered cosmetic parts. These parts can be formed with no residual stress, zero draft, fine levels of detail, and features like vents, undercuts, textures, molded-in words and logos, and sharp corners and edges. At PMT, our turnkey solutions allow us to add fishing touches to thermoformed parts through EMI/RFI shielding, custom painting, texturing, pad printing and multi-color silk-screening.

4.   Range of Materials

PMT has injection molding down to a science, and is experienced in guiding customers through the selection process to find the best plastic resin to achieve full part functionality. Thermoformed parts can use a range of available thermoplastic materials, including polystyrene, polyethylene, polypropylene and PVC. This gives manufacturers the flexibility to find the best material for their specific application. We also have strong supplier relationships to ensure we can source materials that meet your project timelines.

5.   Lower Cost Tooling

Tooling for thermoformed products tends to cost less than injection molding tooling, leading to a lower upfront investment. For mission-critical medical projects, a partner with strong engineering expertise is required to ensure the entire tooling design and fabrication process sets the product up for success. At PMT, tooling is manufactured in-house by our highly qualified tool makers. We offer an extensive line of 3-axis and 5-axis CNC milling centers, along with SolidWorks and Mastercam software to fabricate form tooling and secondary fixtures.

6.   Rapid Prototyping

Quick prototyping is a key advantage of thermoforming in the medical industry. The thermoforming process allows for fast, easy prototyping, which is essential in the development of new medical devices. Prototyping for thermoformed parts allows manufacturers to test the functionality and performance of their medical devices before committing to a full-scale production run. This helps minimize the risk of costly mistakes and ensure the final product meets all necessary specifications and requirements.

In conclusion, thermoforming offers many advantages for the medical industry, including cost-effectiveness, precision, versatility, material options, lower tooling costs, and quick-turnaround prototyping. These benefits make thermoforming a popular and essential manufacturing process for the medical device manufacturing industry.

At PMT, our process control, documentation control and attention to custom specifications have earned us preferred vendor status with our medical customers. Whether your project is large or small, our highly-qualified team will work closely with you to ensure your product requirements are met.

Contact us to discuss your custom thermoforming needs.

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