Molded-In-Color GenDex Dental 3D imagingMolded-in colors are a cost-effective alternative to parts painting. Using colored plastic sheets instead of paint reduces development time, increases design freedom, improves part quality, and promotes environmental sustainability. It also increases part-to-part consistency, reduces inspection time, and mitigates supply chain risks caused by the declining number of Class A parts painters.

By adding color during pressure forming instead of afterward, designers can do more than avoid surface defects that detract from a part’s appearance and affect perceptions of quality. Importantly, molded-in colors also promote greater production efficiency so that you can get the parts you need more quickly. As this article explains, there are seven major reasons to choose molded-in colors for pressure forming.

Keep reading to learn more or contact Profile Plastics to discuss your thermoforming project.

Children's Hospital Medical Device Molded-in color Twin Sheet Thermoforming ​Cost

Parts painting is a secondary process that can add significant expenses to a plastics project. Painting incurs labor and materials costs, and the process doesn’t begin when a container of paint is opened. Typically, parts that need painting require masking. That can be time-consuming, but physically handling the parts and moving or shipping them to where the painting will occur is also an expense. In addition, there are cleanup costs to consider. Using molded-in colors eliminates all of these expenses.

Development Time

Molded-in colors can significantly reduce the development time that’s required to prepare a part for production. Before a single sheet of material is pressure formed, custom color matching is completed. The production part approval process (PPAP) is also faster since you don’t have to wait until thermoforming is complete and parts are painted to verify a supplier’s ability to mass-produce parts in the specific color that you need.

Design Freedom

Color Sheets for the Thermoforming ProcessPlastic sheets can come in a wide variety of colors, including custom colors that match a larger product design. Textured surfaces are also readily achievable, and etching a texture into a mold supports the creation of a consistent texture throughout the part. With pressure forming, molded-in graphics that incorporate branding into the part can replace decals. Molded-in colors support the use of both textured surfaces and molded-in graphics for a complete solution.

Quality

Molded-in colors won’t peel or chip, and the entire pressure-formed part maintains its true color during in-field use. By contrast, parts that are painted are susceptible to scratching or scuffing that removes the top layer of paint and reveals the color of the base material. Molded-in colors that incorporate molded-in features such as logos instead of decals also maintain their appearance. Unlike decals, molded-in logos won’t peel away since there isn’t an adhesive that can fail. With fewer potential defects to consider, part inspections are faster.

Consistency

Molded-in Color Freedom Hot MeltPressure-formed parts with molded-in colors also improve part-to-part consistency. Painting parts by hand requires highly skilled painters, but even Class A professionals may not paint successive parts so that they look exactly the same. Inevitably, there are differences among workers, across shifts, and over days of the week. These inconsistencies increase the number and length of inspections that are required, and that adds costs and extends project timelines.

Risk Mitigation

Using molded-in colors can also mitigate supply chain risks associated with labor shortages and vendor selection. At a time when skilled labor is hard to find, parts painters may not be able to hire enough workers to complete your project on time and according to the level of quality that you need. The declining number of Class A painters further reduces your choices. Selecting and onboarding a new vendor carries risks, but molded-in colors let you use the same vendor that you trust for thermoforming.

Sustainability

Molded-In-Color MAXx Spine Board Stretcher

Finally, molded-in colors can support greater environmental sustainability. If the plastic’s base resin can be recycled, the pressure former can collect any scrap or leftover materials and send them back to the material supplier for reprocessing. By contrast, parts painting may require paints with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or the use of chemicals for touchups or cleanups.

As this article explains, molded-in colors provide numerous advantages over parts painting. For pressure-formed parts with the molded-in colors that you need, contact Profile Plastics.