Injection Molding vs. Thermoforming: What's the Difference?

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Injection molding and thermoforming seem to be the two primary approaches for producing plastic molds.

Despite their similarities, both approaches have their own set of characteristics and advantages, rendering them suited for diverse applications.

Injection molding is the process of infusing molten viscous liquid plastic materials into a mold under increased pressure and at an elevated temperature.

The freshly created plastic components are extracted from the mold after it has sufficiently cooled.

Whereas thermoforming entails subjecting plastic filler materials to intense heat and shaping them to take the form of the mold.

Both methods are widely used in the production of plastic components.

Injection molding is utilized for comparatively tiny complex pieces and big production processes, whilst thermoforming is used for massive patterns and small-scale manufacturing runs. Here are some quick comparisons of the two methods.

Major Differences Between Injection Molding and Thermoforming

The distinctions between both the injection molding process and plastic thermoforming are so numerous. To begin with, each technique is capable of handling a variety of production rates.

Reduced Cost of Tooling

A three-dimensional shape mold is made from aluminum and is used as a mold during the plastic forming step of thermoforming.

However, a thicker mold composed of aluminum, iron, or copper alloy is used in the injection molding process.

These durable molds ensure swift uninterrupted production operations.

The proportion of the mold determines the cost-efficiency of thermoforming machines in contrast with injector molding machines.

The thermoforming process saves time and money considerably since prototype models could well be manufactured from CNC fabrication and tooling

Thermoforming has significantly lower fabrication expenses for larger production lines.

Injection Molding Machines

Raw Materials

Different products that are formed by the thermoforming process are composed of a combination of a variety of stronger plastic raw materials.

 Mostly, any plastic material with a variety of finishes, colors, and thicknesses can be utilized for this process.

Polymeric granules or pellets, which come in a range of thicknesses and colors, are used to make injection molded commodities.

Method of Production

In the thermoforming process, pieces of plastic material are subjected to heat till it attains the malleable/ pliable temperature and afterward formed to the pattern or configuration of the mold using the combination of pressure and suction from a pump.

On the other hand, Injection molding involves heating plastic granules in a molten solution before injecting them into a mold.

Surface Finishing

Most thermoformed plastic products' surface finishes always appear refined and can be utilized while sprayed, silk-screened, or with special coatings added to them.

The plastic products made from the injection molding process are usually extracted out from the mold and typically coated for decorative appeal.

They could be silk-screened or coated with a distinctive finish, which will be achieved with additional costs due to their poor surface finish.


The expense of thermoforming technology is substantially lesser than the expenses incurred during injection molding production.

Although, the fabrication of each piece in injection molding can be somewhat inexpensive when compared to the thermoforming process.

 The injection molding process is ordinarily employed for big, massive production operations, while thermoforming is utilized for both minor and major manufacturing runs.

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