There are two basic types of thermoformers: cut sheet, and web fed.
Cut sheet thermoformers use precut sheet and operate via either
"shuttle," "rotary," or "continuous" (straight line intermittent)
motions. They are generally used to produce large, durable products such
as refrigerator door and cabinet liners, computer housings, canoes, boat
hulls, coolers, bathtub and shower surrounds, toys, and point of
purchase displays. They work with relatively large, thick sheet that is
difficult or impossible to wind due to its stiffness. Such equipment is
readily capable of handling sheet thicknesses of up to 1.52 cm and draw
depths up to 106.7 cm.
Web fed thermoformers may operate in a straight-line
intermittent or true continuous motion. "Off-line" web fed thermoformers
are fed by roll stock, and "in-line" web fed thermoformers are fed
directly by an extruder. This type of equipment is typically used to
produce smaller, large volume products such as food and non-food
packages (cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt containers; produce,
poultry and cookie trays; egg cartons and blister packs) and disposable
dinnerware (cups, plates, and bowls). These products generally require
relatively shallow draws (up to 15.2 cm), and they utilize either solid
(<100 mils) or foam (<250 mils) sheet.