When considering converting metal products to plastic products, be sure to take color into consideration. This should be one of very first things on the list when determining if plastic is the right solution for you!

  • Avoid the extra cost of painting metal by choosing from a variety of plastic color options.
  • Many Color Options. Most plastics can be colored across the palette to deliver your particular color needs and part appearance.
  • Plastic ABS, Polystyrene, Acrylic, TPO, Polyethylene, Luran, and Centrex can be colored and have various gloss and textures as well, which broadens your performance choices.
  • Co-extrusion provides additional color combinations that can offer gloss or matte finishes by using different, but compatible, polymers in layers with each layer having its own appearance.
  • ABS plastic capped with a weatherable polymer has been a longstanding choice for outdoor applications, while TPO plastic (a new polymer), offers performance, low thermal expansion and contraction rates, and resistance to long-term weathering.
  • Camo and Brushed Aluminum Films. If you like a camo or special look, like brushed aluminum, these can also be attained by laminating cap films during the sheet extrusion process to further expand the possibilities. While Microban is not a color, this antimicrobial additive can also be incorporated in the cap or caps of the sheet.All of these plastic sheet choices are extruded at Spencer Industries for our thermoforming customers, providing faster deliveries and truly custom choices.
  • Polycarbonate, PVC, glass-filled TPO, Kydex, and Senosan sheets are purchased for applications as needed.

These options provide the material for thermoforming parts that might be substituted for metal, saving weight and eliminating painting in your applications.

If you have more questions about color options for thermoformed plastic, please contact one of our knowledgeable associates today.

In the world of thermoforming, converting both cosmetic and structural parts from metal or fiberglass to plastic can be a great cost savings. Metal parts, such as a large tool box, fenders for a vehicle, cowls, and SUV Vehicle Roofs would be great candidates to consider for this change. These changes could also improve the part’s performance, esthetic look, and durability. In addition, it can providing cost savings.

Consider Color

Avoid painting metal or fiberglass by using a colored plastic.

Consider Durability And Product Life

Metal parts can become rusty or pitted. Metal can also show hail damage. Thermoplastic olefin (TPO) can provide UV stability.

Consider Extra Hardware

Plastic can be molded using methods and techniques that could reduce the need for metal hinges, and hardware. This could, in turn, reduce the need for assembly labor.

Consider Appearance

Acrylic capped sheet can rival the appearance of gel coated fiberglass. New materials like TPO can provide UV stability. Films can also be applied to plastics to make it appear like they are metal. Films, such as camouflage patterns, can be applied to give a more unique cosmetic appeal.

Consider Strength

There are methods available, such as twin sheet thermoforming, and mechanically inserting supports as the plastic is molded. It is possible to design radii and ribs (that are not practical in metal), foam filling, and material choices for different specific performance issues.

Consider Shipping Weight

Metal parts tend to weigh much more than plastics parts.

In Conclusion

Don’t let plastic fool you! When considering the change from metal or fiberglass to plastic keep an open mind. Feel free to think outside the box and work with an engineer who will listen and make it happen!

We are very excited to be celebrating 30 years of custom thermoforming! Our company is a very strong locally owned and operated business. I wanted to share with you a little bit of our history, as many people do not realize how we started into the thermoforming business.

We are a very unique company nestled in a small town in Southern Indiana.  We started thermoforming plastic as Thermwood Corporation, where we thermoformed wood-grain plastic products for the furniture industry; hence the name “Thermwood.”

In 1981, Thermwood made a corporate decision to become totally automated. So they set out their dream to build CNC Routers. We then set out on our mission to provide custom thermofoming. We built a facility next door and purchased the thermoforming and sheet extrusion assets of Thermwood. With our company headquarters being located in beautiful Spencer County, Indiana we decided to name our company “Spencer Industries Incorporated.”

Our company began with 58 employees in 1981. Now in 2011, we have more than 200 employees in our Indiana and South Carolina facilities. We are proud to say that many of those same experienced employees are still working with us today!

During the past 30 years, we have expanded our thermoforming and warehouse facilities many times. There were also purchases of new facilities in El Plaso, Texas and in Hampton, South Carolina. The El Paso facility is no longer open, but we do currently produce large amounts of thermoformed plastic products in our Hampton, South Carolina facility today!

In the last 30 years, we have also earned several awards for our unique thermoforming abilities. These abilities are continually improving as we learn new ways to improve or products and business.

We live by our motto: Excellence Through Continuous Improvement

I have been writing about different ways to reduce the cost of producing products. Design and engineering are key to producing a high aesthetic product, but often one goal is to keep the total project cost down. Here is another idea to ponder….

Replace a traditional metal hinge with a plastic living hinge.

A plastic living hinge? A living hinge is similar to the hinge on a Tic-Tac breathmint container, but picture it on a much larger scale.

Imagine the savings this option offers!

  • No hinges to order! Lower lnventory costs!
  • No extra labor/machine time to fasten them to the product; they are already there molded into the product.
  • No risk for rust and no need to grease the hinge.

Naturally, plastic weighs less than most metals. There are many things that can be done to save on manufacturing costs of a product if you can reduce the weight or components. Here is an idea to ponder…

Replace metal with a thermoformed plastic component

Replacing any size piece of metal with thermoformed plastic component can reduce the weight of the product. This will also lower the packing requirements and shipping costs.

Worried about strength? Twin sheeting is a proven solution to add structural integrity to a plastic thermoformed component.

The Velocity tanning bed is a great example of a product where a thermoformed plastic component was used in place of metal to reduce production and shipping costs.

The economy has many companies thinking about different ways to reduce manufacturing cost. There are many ways to do this, but many innovative American companies are looking into using different materials or parts to reduce costs.

Naturally plastic weighs less than metal. There are many things that can be done to reduce cost if you can reduce the weight, eliminate painting with molded plastic in color, or reduce the number of components needed to produce a product.

Twin Sheet Thermoformed parts/product are made by very few thermoformers. Spencer Industries is one of the few that specializes in this skill. When using the twin sheet thermoforming method there are many unique advantages that allow the engineer to think outside the box. Using the twin sheet method can also be a huge cost savings!

Twin sheet thermoforming is accomplished by heating two extruded plastic sheets simultaneously and then forming and sealing or fusing these two sheets together during the thermoforming process. In many cases, the twin-sheeting process produces parts that can resemble a blow-molded or rotational molded product, but with several advantages.

Advantages Of Twin Sheet Thermoforming

  • A two-color product option
  • Ability to have 2 different material thicknesses
  • A higher esthetic product because of complete tool contact of both exterior sheets
  • A hollow product with a separate component trapped inside the two sheets as the part is being twin sheet thermoformed.
  • Allows a parting line that varies in locations around the perimeter of the two halves
  • Increased Structural Integrity and helps Rigidify otherwise weak areas
  • Multiple Materials that we commonly Twin Sheet Thermoform – HIPS, ABS, TPO, HDPE, PP, TPU, & PETG
  • Size capabilities range from as small as 8″ x 8″ to as large as 7′ x 11′ x 36″ Depth

Features Of Twin Sheet Thermoforming

  • Hollow Formed Parts
  • Two Color Part Option
  • Foam Filled
  • Living Hinge Capabilities
  • Custom Color Layering
  • Variable Wall Thickness
  • Multi Textures
  • Air and Wiring Ducting

Spencer Industries, Inc. has announced that the company will expand operations at their Hampton County facility to increase production capacity and capture a larger market share in the thermoformed plastics industry. According to Plant Manager, Todd Warren, the expansion represents a capital investment of $1.2 million and will create a total of 12 jobs at the Hampton County location. (view the complete article here)

We strive to continuously improve our processes, product, and working environment at Spencer Industries.

We are implementing a 6S system as a way of improving:

    • organization and management of the workspace;
    • efficiency by eliminating waste;
    • the process flow;
    • our overall working environment, and;
    • our safety program.

Our safety team is leading this effort throughout our facility.<.p>

Did you know all plastics fall into only two categories when it comes to their reaction to heating? These 2 categories are called thermoplastic and thermosetting.

Thermoplastic materials become soft when they are heated and solid when cooled to room temperature. This is similar to heating and cooling wax. Thermoplastics are materials such as acrylics, cellulosics, polyamide, polystyrene, polyethylene, fluoroplastics, polyvinyls, polycarbonate, and polysulfone.

Thermosetting materials cannot be reheated and softened again. Once these are formed they cannot be reformed. This is simliar to baking a cake or boiling an egg. Thermosetting are materials such as aminos, casein, epoxies, phenolics, polyesters, silicones, and polyurethanes.