Thermoformed Plastic Covers and GuardingWhen it comes to putting the finishing touches on your company’s product, multiple variables usually come into play.  The finishing touches need to provide a look that fits your company’s image as well provide any functionality that may be required.  Covers, guarding, skins, etc are usually utilized for this purpose.  Many times these guards or covers are made from thermoformed plastic.  If the size of the guard is too large or additional features such as increased strength, stiffness, bonded in fasteners, etc are required, the guards made sometimes be made from fiberglass as well.  Steel and aluminum guarding can also be used but have some drawbacks as mentioned later in this blog post.

Thermoformed Plastic Covers and guards can provide protection for the product(s) they are covering as well protection for those who may come into contact with moving parts, pinch points, sharp features and/or otherwise hazardous areas of the product.  Thermoformed plastic guarding is often utilized to protect the consumer or operator from these potentially dangerous areas and with today’s technology, producing a decorative and functional plastic guard/cover has never been easier.  The utilization of CAD modeling allows industrial designers to produce CAD models of thermoformed plastic guards that will fit like a glove once they are produced.

Thermoformed Covers and Thermoformed Guards vs Metal

Covers made from metal (aluminum, steel, stainless, etc) can be tough, but they come at a cost.  Guards that need to have lots of geometry can be expensive to fabricate.  Multiple welds or an expensive stamping die will be required in order to obtain the geometry required.  Also, metals guards can be susceptible to corrosion, rust, denting, etc and can produce sharp burrs and edges either during production or during service if subjected to a blunt force.  Also, there isn’t a metal available that is available in clear.  Several plastics which are thermoformable are available in clear which can allow observers to view the inner workings of the equipment under the cover.  A metal cover will require painting if a specific color is needed.  Thermoformed plastic guards can be made with the color molded in.

Thermoformed Covers and Thermoformed Guards vs Fiberglass

If a larger and stronger cover is required but you still want the ability to produce flowing geometry and complex shapes like you can get with a thermoformed cover, a fiberglass cover may be worth considering.  Fiberglass allows for larger guards and covers to be made which may require: deeper draws (which can sometimes pose a problem for thermoforming), the inclusion of various bonded in fasteners, extra stiffness or strength in specific areas, more rigidity, or just a high strength to weight ratio.  If you think a fiberglass cover may be what you need, don’t worry Arrowhead has you covered.  Arrowhead specializes in both thermoformed covers and guarding as well molded fiberglass covers and guarding.

Whether it is exposure to oils, solvents, elevated temperatures, UV rays or cold weather impact, chances are there is a plastic that can be thermoformed to meet your needs….and if molded fiberglass guarding may be required, Arrowhead has you covered (pun intended!) there as well.

Have a potential cover or guarding application that you would like to look into having thermoformed?  Give us a ring or contact us to start the conversation.  We’re happy to help!

About the Author:

Mark Kishel
Mark KishelSales Engineering Manager
Arrowhead Plastic Engineering, Inc.
1151 N Harford St
Eaton, IN 47338
765-396-9649 fax