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Thermoforming Services

Table of Contents

US Thermoforming Services

Thermoforming is a manufacturing technique that forms hot sheet plastic over a mold using vacuum pressure to produce complex surfaces and precise detail.

Once the plastic cools and hardens, the the product is removed, and any excess plastic is trimmed away and recycled. This is especially effective for creating custom trays, packaging, panels, and housings – ideal for any plastic part with a single surface shape.

This cost-effective technology not only reduces lead times and tooling costs compared to injection molding and machining, but it also offers lower part costs than 3D printing. While there are some design limitations, thermoforming supports a broad range of materials and provides excellent value for large parts and medium to large production runs.
 

Max Bed Size: 132" x 58"

3- & 5-Axis Trim

We proudly make all our parts and tooling in-house right here in the United States – at our manufacturing facility in Portland, OR.

Versatile Thermoplastics

Thermoplastics are strong, durable and inexpensive. RapidMade offers an extensive range of plastics, including PETG, HIPS, ABS and much more (detailed list below,) in thicknesses ranging from 0.020″ to 0.250″ (0.5 mm to 6.5 mm). An extensive list of our sheet plastic options are below on this page.

With so many material options, thermoformed products are able to meet a host of mechanical and aesthetic demands, from conductivity and heat resistance to FDA food-grade certifications. Thermoformed parts can be rigid or flexible, glossy or matte, translucent or opaque. This versatility lends itself to applications in a variety of industries, including food, medicine, robotics, automotive, electronics and industrial manufacturing.

Thermoformed Parts
High level automotive finishes are possible!

The RapidMade Edge: Engineering, Finishing and CNC Machining

Full Service Engineering

At RapidMade, we differentiate ourselves by employing a team qualified engineers who are assigned to your project. Unlike many manufacturing service firms, we don’t just fabricate parts – we ensure they meet your exact specifications. This commitment to quality starts with a rigorous up-front design review process, followed through with thorough back-end inspections. The result? Engineered products that meet your needs and deliver lasting value.

Our engineering process includes the following services:

Engineering Release Report (ERR) – No parts are made without thorough engineering review and customer approval (see sample ERR document.)

Part Design and Revision Work – Up to one hour of revisions included with jobs; we can also do full part design or modifications as needed

Mold Tooling and Fixture Design – We design and build our own tooling to ensure parts are made in spec

First Article Inspection Report (FAIR) See inspection report template.

Certificates of Conformance (CoC)  See sample certificate.

 

RapidMade|Thermoforming Services
Full time engineering staff for engineered parts

Automotive Quality Painting and Coating

At RapidMade we have a full service paint shop capable of painting parts up to several feet in length. We employ a full time painter with 25 years of experience who can achieve basically any finish on your job. If you do not have the volume for a custom run of plastic our paint shop can help you achieve whatever finish you need in smaller batches.

Genesis: Automotive Paint Finish

  • Custom Pantone or Paint chip color match
  • 10 year rated UV protection
  • Scratch resistant
  • Control luster levels: flat, matte, satin, semi-gloss and gloss
  • Additional clear coat top coat available
 

ESD: Electrostatic Dissipation Coating

  • Field tested for over 6 years with no adhesion problems 
  • Rigorous QC. We certify all parts will be 10^7 – 10^8 Ohms S.R.
  • Great for electronics, optics, and flammable applications
 
Powder coating of metal parts
Full Service Automotive Paint Shop

3- and 5 Axis CNC Machine Shop

Most shops trim their parts by hand. Although this saves money on trim tooling and setup the accuracy and consistency on production parts is very low. At RapidMade, although we still offer hand trimming as an option when customers are making large or low accuracy parts, we know that some customers need the additional accuracy provided by CNC machining.

Our machine shop offers the following advantages:

Versatility – We run 6 different machine tools with varying working areas, travel speeds, tolerances, tool changing and axis configurations.

Flexibility – We are staffed to run multiple shifts per day, 7 days a week. Ask us about expedite options!

Size – Our largest 5 axis machine tool has a 10’x5’x5′ travel – we can accurately trim the largest parts.

Experience – Our machinists have dozens of years of experience. We will provide honest evaluations of your drawings and inspect your parts per an ISO sampling plan.

The way we trim your part will be called out on the quote!

RapidMade|Thermoforming Services
CNC vacuum fixtures to trim the most accurate and complex parts

Types of Thermoform Mold Tooling

3D Printed Nylon 12 (MJF)

  • The overall best tooling option for parts 19”x17” or smaller
  • Lowest cost and fastest lead time option for small parts
  • Not suitable for ultra high temperature materials
  • Very high detail and clean, matte finish
  • Permanent tooling
  • High accuracy

Machined Urethane Foam

  • The best option for larger tools up to 8+ feet
  • Lowest cost and fastest lead time option for large parts
  • 30# tooling board for prototyping (50 – 100 forms) – matte finish
  • 50# tooling board for production (permanent) – matte finish
  • 70# tooling board for production (permanent) – polish finish
  • Very high accuracy

Cast Aluminum

  • Create long-lasting tooling or multiples of a tool at a lower price than printing
  • Cheaper than milled aluminum for large parts but very long lead time (we ship a pattern to a foundry)
  • Requires a 3D printed or machined master mold
  • Permanent tooling
  • Highest part consistency from temperature controlled tooling

Machined Aluminum

  • Best for clear parts when polished finish is required and forming temperatures are high – polycarbonate and acrylic
  • Capable of the finest detail and thinnest mold features – casting requires thicker walls and composite/plastic is not strong enough
  • Permanent tooling
  • Very high accuracy
  • Not necessary or recommended for most projects 

*Note: Tool surface finish is only important for clear materials or glossy finishes on the mold side. For most opaque materials and positive/male molds tooling surface finish is not important. For clear plastics a matte finish will leave a frosted/diffused texture on the mold side, which may or may not be desirable.

Thermoforming with 3D Printed Tooling: Blazing Fast and Low Cost

Our specialty is thermoforming with 3D printed tooling – a unique process we at RapidMade pioneered. 

Traditionally, molds are milled from composite and aluminum or cast from aluminum. This can be slow and expensive, especially for small- to medium-sized parts – taking many weeks to produce. By using 3D printed nylon molds RapidMade can create durable tooling in under 48 hours for as little as 50% of the cost of machined tooling.

Jet Fusion Nylon 12 is excellent for this application: It offers high temperature resistance, doesn’t bond with other materials and has a consistent matte finish. 3D printed molds also provide profound design freedom for undercuts, high detail surface textures and complex vacuum fixtures – things that would be difficult or impossible to machine.

These low costs and faster production times make it easier than ever to prototype thermoformed parts. The time and cost savings of 3D printed molds make thermoforming an economical option for an even wider range of situations throughout your product life cycle.

Click here to find out more about our in house tooling!

Thermoforming with 3D Printed Tooling: Better Together
Printed molds have size limitations (roughly 19"x17") so for larger parts milled composite tooling is still necessary.

Thermoforming Design Guidelines

We can thermoform parts larger than 4’ x 8’ and offer incremental window sizes as small as 5” x 5” to save material costs on smaller parts. We can form multi-unit molds to save on time and cost for high volume production.

When designing parts to be thermoformed, there are a few important considerations to ensure consistency. Draw ratio, or the ratio of the part’s depth to its width, cannot exceed 4:3. We recommend a maximum draw depth of 1:1 if possible or quality may suffer. We can build a pre-stretch box to help with this but it adds cost.

Due to shrinkage thermoformed parts also require 2-3 degrees of draft for internal surfaces and 3-5 degrees of draft for external surfaces in order to be removed from their molds. We will adjust your models for shrinkage!

To learn more about mold and part designs, check out our dedicated page – Thermoforming Design for Manufacturing (DFM) Guide.

Thermoforming Design
An example of the complexity acheivable with thermoform tooling - this is a real RapidMade customer project!
 

Thermoforming Tolerances

ACTIVITYTOLERANCEGUIDELINE
FORMED MEASUREMENTS
< 6″
6″ – 12″
12″ – 18″
> 18″ 

+/-0.015″
+/-0.025″
+/-0.030″
+/-0.030″ +/-0.002″ per inch

Tolerance and size increase proportionally
DRILLED HOLE DIAMETERS+/-0.005”Holes Equal or Lesser than 1”
DRILLED HOLE DIAMETERS+/-0.010”Holes from 1” to 5”
SLOTS+/-0.010”Slot Equal to or Lesser than 1” Any Direction
SLOTS+/-0.020”Slots Greater than 1”
5 AXIS TRIM+/-0.015”Trim Features under 5”
5 AXIS TRIM+/-0.020”Trim Features Greater than 5”
 
 

Comprehensive List of Thermoforming Plastics

Thermoforming is compatible with a variety of plastics that can achieve a wide range of thermal, mechanical and chemical properties. Below, is an extensive list of the thermoplastics we regularly use with our thermoforming process and some of their ideal applications. Although these resins are a complete list of our standard offerings, the world of plastics is vast – we might be able to work with customer supplied materials or source something special not listed upon request. It always helps to start a conversation with our sales team if you are curious about a niche plastic not listed below. At RapidMade we embrace your toughest challenges.

Standard - Single Sheet Minimum Order

These materials are stocked at RapidMade or easily obtained at a local distributor. Color and finish are limited. Materials are not always readily available in every thickness but typically they can be purchased by as little as a single 4’x8′ sheet. Lead time is typically 1-3 weeks. Custom orders of these materials are available and offer more finish, color or additive options (like UV or FR rating) and to reduced cost (lower cost per lb and better yielding cut sizes.) These runs can take 5-10 weeks and require 6000 lb material minimums.

RapidMade|Thermoforming Services
HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene)

Lowest cost and easy to form. Smooth, flat and clean surface finish which paints well. One of the most aesthetic forming grade plastics. Popular for packaging, material handling and signage. Less mechanical than ABS and poor chemical resistance. Available in food grade. Stock white and black colors – and take paint beautifully. The very clean, soft matte finish is famously used in iPhone packaging.

Labor Cost: ★☆☆

Material Cost: ★☆☆

HIPS Data Sheet

RapidMade|Thermoforming Services
PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate) (Polyester)

Moderate cost and easy to form. High gloss surface finish. Food grade and available in medical grade. Popular for packaging, food processing and pharmaceutical applications. Stiff and flexible material. Clear plastic which easily shows the mold finish – polished molds can be expensive if high clarity is needed. Frosted finish on tool side for standard molds.

Labor Cost: ★☆☆

Material Cost: ★★☆

PETG Data Sheet

RapidMade|Thermoforming Services
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

Lowest cost and easy to form. Impact-resistant engineering  plastic and the industry standard when cost and performance are a priority. Used for automotive body parts, high wear housings and covers and moderate-load structural components. The stock hair cell finish is ideal for hiding scratches and taking a beating.

Labor Cost: ★☆☆

Material Cost: ★☆☆

ABS Data Sheet

RapidMade|Thermoforming Services
Kydex T (ABS/PVC) or Kydex 100 (Acrylic/PVC)

Expensive flame-retardant engineered plastic with extremely high impact resistance. Used for moderate-load structures, covers and enclosures that require fire resistance. Top tier mechanical properties. Kydex 100 is our go-to material for radomes due to RFI properties. Variety of colors and finishes with a 600 lb MOQ. Absolutely beautiful finish.

Labor Cost: ★☆☆

Material Cost: ★★★

Kydex T Data Sheets

RapidMade|Thermoforming Services
PC (Polycarbonate)

Moderately expensive engineered plastic with high stiffness, impact strength and temperature resistance, plus options for UV and scratch resistance. Used for glass replacements on phones, TVs, lights or glasses, and high-temp applications. Harder to form, especially for fine details. Extremely difficult to work with and requires pre-drying which ads cost. Very prone to blemishes during forming – do not expect perfect aesthetic form quality!

Labor Cost: ★★★

Material Cost: ★★★

PC Data Sheet

RapidMade|Thermoforming Services
HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)

Semi-rigid, moderate cost (HDPE prices are very volatile!) plastic with high chemical resistance. Does not off-gas at high temperatures. Chemical and thermal durability makes it well-suited for chemical-resistant containers. Highest shrink rate of any plastic, which lowers composite tool life and increases variability between parts. HDPE is sometimes the only acceptable plastic for certain chemical applications.

Labor Cost: ★★★

Material Cost: ★★

HDPE Data Sheet

RapidMade|Thermoforming Services
PP (Polypropylene)

Low cost alternative to HDPE with decent thermal and mechanical properties. Very soft plastic with a lot of flex. Slightly less shrinkage than HDPE but still has a high shrink rate. Higher level of chemical resistance than most plastics.  Can be hard to control without temperature controlled tooling.  FDA approved for direct food contact.

Labor Cost: ★★★

Material Cost: ★

PP Data Sheet

RapidMade|Thermoforming Services
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

Rigid engineering plastic with great mechanical properties; high chemical and electrical resistance. Smooth surface finish. Food and medical grade. Very similar to ABS but with a higher material cost. Used for potable water, chemical processing, pharmaceutical and agricultural applications. Easy to work with, if a bit stinky. Engineers pick PVC when ABS does not have the chemical properties and HDPE is too soft.

Labor Cost: ★☆

Material Cost: ★★★

PVC Data Sheet

RapidMade|Thermoforming Services
Acrylic (PMMA)

An inexpensive, rigid and brittle plastic molding with high UV resistance. More difficult to form than other plastic in the US. Extremely difficult to work with – not intended for tight bends or details. Requires very soft transitions and extreme draft or material can blow out while forming. UV resistance makes it well-suited to outdoor applications. We are very selective about your design when working with this material.

Labor Cost: ★★★

Material Cost: ★★★

Acrylic Data Sheet

500 lb Minimum Order Specialty Plastic: Bolteron

Bolteron is an incredibly exciting material that we offer. Bolteron is a trade name for serveral blended grades of thermoplastic which are equivalent to Kydex. For example Bolteron 4335 is equivalent to Kydex T. Not only does this mean they have aircraft grade mechanical properties- they are UV and corrosion resistant, FST (flame, smoke toxicity) rated, UL 94-V0 rated, and FDA USP class I-VI rated for medical devices. Bolteron, like Kydex, is more expensive per pound than lower grade plastics like ABS but can be worth it for medium production runs.

The best part? At 500 lbs Bolteron is the lowest minimum order custom run plastic we offer. That means low minimums on:

  • Custom sheet sizes – Avoid costly waste common when forced to use a 4’x8′ stock sheet size
  • Custom textures – 7 available extruded textures from gloss to matte, velour to haircell
  • Custom pantone color match – We can custom match any pantone color or paint chip without needing to paint!

2500 lb Minimum Order Specialty Plastics

These materials are made to order with a 6 week lead time and require a minimum order of 2500 lbs. These are premium automotive plastics that possess exceptional finish and durability. These plastics can have any color and finish and even include additional features like foam and polyurethane top layers.

TPO

TPO (Thermoplastic Poly Olefin) is a compounded alloy of polypropylene, elastomers and mineral fillers offering a unique balance of stiffness and thermal expansion. TPO has superior weather-ability so it does not require a cap and it ranks extremely high on impact and chemical resistance.

TPO Data Sheet

PC/ABS 

Alloying Polycarbonate blended with ABS results in the best of both worlds. You get the ease of processing ABS and the durability of polycarbonate. This combination also improves heat deflection temperature, stiffness, and and low-temperature impact resistance. Needs paint or coating for automotive applications.

PC/ABS Data Sheet

EXULTRA® TPE/TPO

Cap of partially cross-linked TPE coextruded over TPO Soft-touch TPE cap – 90 Shore A

This material is outdoor weatherable, has excellent chemical resistance, very low gloss and offers options of  HMS, FR, & Glass-filled TPO.

TPE/TPO Data Sheet

ONESTEP® Vinyl/ABS

OneStep® Vinyl/ABS products offer a textured, leather-like appearance and a refined feel. While maintaining dependable performance for forming applications, it retains the durability and rigidity to withstand wear and tear. A vinyl foam composite is laminated over ABS to create a piece that mimics hand-wrapped parts and is near impervious to scratches and marring. 

Vinyl/ABS Product Information

SOFTFLEX® ASA/ABS

SoftFlex® ASA/ABS is a coextruded styrenic system that offers the weatherability & chemical resistance of ASA combined with the versatility of ABS. The high elastomer content of the ASA cap provides an ultra low-gloss look and a soft-touch feel that makes it ideal for multiple interior and exterior applications.

ASA/ABS Data Sheet

The Custom Run Plastic Advantage: Color and Texture

Custom Colors

Our supplier’s state-of-the-art color laboratory specializes in producing quality colored sheet from standard gray and blue hues to dynamic, bright accent colors. Expert technicians and their in-house technology offers custom color matching in a standard lead time of less than 3 days.

You can match to a physical sample or to a color reference number such as Pantone, NCS, or RAL.

RapidMade|Thermoforming Services
Custom Extruded Textures

In addition to being able to produce every color under the sun we can provide seven custom extruded textures shown below. These textures range from gloss to matte to satin and haircell. Our team get work with you to provide real texture images up close to help guide you on your decision or even ship samples to you.

In addition to these textures through our supplier at Simona PMC we can also provide many pressed textures at added cost.

RapidMade|Thermoforming Services
SD
RapidMade|Thermoforming Services
CM
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FT
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HC
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LV
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RapidMade|Thermoforming Services
VL

Thermoforming Applications

custom thermoformed trays

Efficient Custom Trays

Custom trays can benefit a range of professional environments, from automated assembly lines to hospital operating rooms. By tailoring solutions to your specific needs, RapidMade can create tools that fit seamlessly into your existing production. Learn more here.

paint crop

Custom Finished Products

RapidMade has a full service paint shop which can provide high quality automotive finishes like Sherwin Williams Polane and Genesis paints which are 10 year UV rated and scratch resistant. We can also apply ESD, RFI and other specialty coatings.

thermoformed

Durable Panels & Housings

Thermoforming is often the best choice for large panels and housings owing to its large bed sizes and inexpensive tooling. These durable and versatile mold products are well-suited to a wide range of industrial and consumer applications. With our 5 axis machine tools no trim is too complex.

Custom Replacement Parts - Thermoforming

Affordable Replacement Parts

Replacement parts can be expensive, and if they have been discontinued by the OEM, they may be impossible to find. With our reverse engineering and thermoforming services, we can quickly manufacture durable replacement parts to your specifications.

Get Your Thermoforming Quote Today!

Whether you are developing a new product or are ready to start production, RapidMade’s manufacturing services help you get it done better, faster and at less cost. Our contract engineering services and custom manufacturing solutions are available for every stage of your  product life cycle.

Meet Your Thermoforming Sales Representative

RapidMade|Thermoforming Services

Micah Chaban, VP of Sales and Marketing

mchaban@rapidmade.com

Hi! Micah here – I am a founder of RapidMade, our Vice President of Sales and Marketing and a 15 year manufacturing industry veteran. I personally handle all thermoforming quotes, orders and customer relationships. I am at your disposal day or night and am our top technical expert on staff.

I consider a chief differentiator of RapidMade is its sales team. We put empowered technical experts such as myself up front on projects to make sure from the outset that your products are shepherded through the complicated process of custom tooling and manufacturing with care and accountability. Most of our competitors will put junior level staff in sales positions who have little knowledge of the process or influence to get things done for you.

You have my word that I will personally review all incoming projects – your CAD and drawings, ask the tough questions and provide honest feedback. I will provide an extremely detailed and thorough quote up front that defines the scope of your project and our commitments to you. I will personally make sure your project is delivered on time and with industry leading quality from start to finish.

We at RapidMade are proud of our work and look forward to your toughest challenges!

Thermoforming FAQs

The choice of material depends on the application, required durability, aesthetics, and compliance with specific regulatory standards.

Common materials used in thermoforming include

  • ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene),
  • Polycarbonate,
  • High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS),
  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride),
  • PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol), and more.
 
A comprehensive list of materials offered by RapidMade is provided a few sections up on this page. If you have any questions about materials Micah is more than happy to assist you.

The world of plastics can be opaque and confusing if you are not an engineer or material scientist. If you are not confident enough to select a material using our guide, our experts are available to guide you in selecting the best technology and material for your project based on your specific requirements and the intended use of the finished product.

When in doubt though we typically recommend the least expensive and easiest to work with plastics for most general purpose projects. That would typically be ABS, PETG and HIPS – these plastics would be acceptable for most applications unless you have special requirements.

Thermoforming is ideal for trays and covers – any component where you are trying to cover a large amount of space. 

Although thermoformed parts can be highly complex there are limitations to the designs because we are still molding the part out of a single sheet or surface. 

That means ribs must be simple and we cannot do complex post machining or have gussets and controlled, variable thickness walls.

For an in depth design guidelines for thermforming please see our DFM guide.

Injection molding is the gold standard for repeatability and low cost. It offers more design freedom than thermoforming because you are molding liquid plastic at very high heat and pressure, allowing you to create parts with varying and controlled thicknesses, many surfaces and high complexity.

The drawback of injection molding is that the tooling cost is extremely high, especially for very large parts. This makes injection molding not very ideal for low volume production runs or very large parts.

Thermoforming tends to serve a sweet spot for customers where injection mold tooling is simply not economical, in the tens to thousands of parts range, or when a part is so large that an injection mold tool would cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

RapidMade has a full service engineering and design team on staff, unlike most thermoforming companies. We can help refine your product design to ensure it is optimized for thermoforming, making sure you are adhering to best practices to get the most consistent and high quality parts. 

Every new project goes through a thorough engineering review process where we identify potential issues with your design and recommend changes and even do the design revisions ourselves. This process is extremely through and we produce drawings with which our team manufactures the parts to those specifications. This is an ISO 9001 compliant process that meets the most rigorous standards. We do first article inspection and can provide certificates of conformance (CoC,) material certifications and first article inspection documentation (FAIR.)

Thanks to our flexible 3D printed and machined in house tooling we have the ability to do very fast and low volume orders for prototyping. We also can directly 3D print your parts as prototypes to make sure we solve unforeseen design problems before we make expensive tooling.

Thermoforming is well-suited for producing large parts, such as automotive body parts, signs, and enclosures. The limitations on part size are generally determined by the size of the thermoforming machine and the ability to handle and trim the formed parts. We run large format formers and 5 axis CNC machines here which can manufacture parts up to 10 feet in size!

This is a very difficult question to answer! Cost is split into two buckets, setup and production. Engineering and tooling are one time setup costs and unit cost is a recurring production cost.

Engineering costs are driven by the size and complexity of the part and the specifications of the customer. If the customer has very complex drawings and needs high levels of inspection that also adds the to cost.

Tooling costs are driven by the size and complexity of the part, the trim, the material and how many molds we are going to form at once.

Larger parts require larger tools which are more expensive.

Parts can be trimmed by hand which do not require additional tooling but if 3 or 5 axis CNC trimming is required it adds an additional fixture tool and CNC setup costs.

High temperature materials or polished finish clear materials like polycarbonate may require milled aluminum tooling instead of composites which can be very expensive.

If we form many molds at once it will save on labor/unit cost but your up front tooling cost will be higher. This makes sense for large production runs.

Unit costs are determined by the size of the part, trim time, material, sheet thickness, the number of units ordered and number of molds.

As already explained, more bucks saves on labor which saves on unit cost. If forming a sheet take 5 minutes, forming over 4 molds instead of 1 gives us 4x the parts in that time.

Different materials take different amounts of time to form and cool and also have wildly varying costs to buy the raw material. Thicker sheets are also more expensive than thinner ones and take longer to process.

A simple trim may be very quick but a trim with a lot of holes or slot cuts (like a vent design) could take a very long time to trim and would add cost. We also have to deburr the trim which is a lot of hand labor.

Each run of parts has some initial setup so ordering a few parts vs a lot of parts increases the cost per part.

Finally customers who require high levels of inspection on their orders pay more for that as inspection is labor intensive.

This is a breakdown of how we price work but its best to just submit an RFQ! We can quote jobs from CAD or drawings, or even simply by knowing the size of part (XYZ dimensions,) the quantity and the plastic and gauge thickness you want.

Turnaround times can vary widely depending on the size and complexity of the part, the quantity of parts needed and our current workload/queue. However, thermoforming is generally quicker than other manufacturing processes like injection molding, which can take months to build tooling, especially for prototypes and small runs.

RapidMade is in the name! Compared to other thermoforming manufacturers we are the fastest around. Since we build all our tooling in house we are not reliant on sub-suppliers who may be slow, unreliable, create out of spec molds, or ship those molds across the country.

We strive to complete most printed or milled tooling and samples within 3-4 weeks from order and most production orders within 1-4 weeks (depending on order size) from first article sample approval. Custom material orders may add to your lead time. Very large parts and molds (typically over 4′ long) also may have extended lead times.

Once a mold is built we store it for as long as you need it so reorders can be completed without that initial tooling lead time.

Absolutely! We keep run several shifts and weekends and keep a very nimble and flexible staff with a lot of machine tools and forming equipment. Our goal is to entertain expedites whenever possible – sometimes we are just too booked up though and we will tell you that. Expedites typically cut the lead time for tooling and parts in half and cost an additional 30%.

Although we can quote most files we do require a solid model (STEP, IGES, SLDPRT, etc) for production. Solid models are needed to design tooling and program the trim tool paths.

If you can only provide an STL, OBJ or other polygonal model we may be able to convert it at no charge – or if it is a lot of work we can maybe convert or redesign for a small engineering fee.

We highly recommend customers provide 2D prints for their projects to define critical tolerances and other requirements. If you cannot provide one we will make one during our engineering process for you to approve.

Although we do not have a minimum order quantity – we will make as few as 1 – 3 units – there is substantial setup and tooling cost on thermforming orders. We also buy plastic by the sheet and you are purchasing a minimum of a full sheet whether you use it all or not.

Customers typically spend thousands of dollars into tooling and hundreds of dollars into forming and CNC trim setup. The setup costs are amortized into the parts so if you are only ordering a few parts they will likely cost over $100 per unit. This coupled with your tooling costs often makes very short run orders uneconomical.

The sweet spot for low per unit forming costs is typically in the dozens to hundreds of parts.

Yes! In fact we highly encourage it. We do have to build tooling though but we have a rigorous first article / sample run inspection and approval process.

We prefer to make a few samples off the mold so you can approve them and validate our tooling. It is important to catch any issues during first article approval so that we can correct them before we make your production run.

If you want to forgo the first article process to save time that is your right but you are purchasing product “at risk” and any issues discovered after receipt require a follow up order to correct.

Runs of 10 units or less are considered sample runs and are treated like first articles – no follow up runs needed unless you order more parts.

If you want a prototype before we make tooling we have to 3D print or machine it.

At RapidMade we take quality extremely seriously. We are in the process of gaining ISO 9001 certification and hope to be certified by the end of this year.

We have trained forming and milling technicians who inspect product in process and a capable engineering team who sets the standards.

Any QC process is only as good as the up front definition which is why we mandate drawing creation from either our team or the customer. Your parts are inspected to those drawings to ensure conformance.

In the rare cases that product does pass QC and a customer receives it but rejects those parts as non-conforming (NCR) we take responsibility and issue an RMA to either re-work or replace the product at no cost to the customer.

Shipping depends on the size of order. Due to the size of parts and number of units ordered via thermoforming we often have no choice but to ship your order via freight. 

We cannot often predict the shipping costs until a pallet is made because we do not know the final size your pallet will be but we can advise on general costs of certain sized pallets going to specific locations within the United States.

For smaller orders that can fit in a 24″ cube or less we can ship ground, 2-day, 3-day or overnight to anywhere in the United States. Expedited shipping options can be expensive if the package is large.

All shipping terms are Ex Works and we prefer to ship on the customer’s shipping account whenever possible.

For most new customers our standard payment terms are 50% down, 50% on shipment. We do take credit cards but there is a 3% fee. You can also pay via ACH or check. We can send you a secure payment link to pay via ACH.

Once we have a credit history with your company we can extend credit terms beyond that.

If you require credit up front on your first order we can work with you on a credit application and credit check. If your company is determined to be low risk we can extend credit terms on your first order.