Tooless Engineered Composites®

Over ten years ago, Terry Kieffer wanted to combine the speed of thermoforming with the strength and durability of composites. The final product is the award-winning, patented process that is exclusive to Plastics Unlimited. We call that technology our TEC® (Tooless Engineered Composites) process.

TEC® starts with a thermoformed plastic skin that is structurally reinforced by a composite material from the backside of the part. The benefits are a non-painted Class A finish that can have a solid color with clear protection, metallic with clear top layer, chrome or designs such as carbon mesh, camouflage, or any innovative design that one can imagine. There are also many different textures that can be used for scratch and mar resistance which is not achievable with gelcoated parts.

The lower tooling cost makes it an excellent choice for low to mid volume production parts requiring structure and high quality appearance. It’s a fraction of SMC or RTM tooling cost. TEC® also has fast turnaround because of the shorter cycle times. Each thermoformed shell is a new mold which means that there is no waiting on parts to cure. We can produce a part every 2-3 minutes compared to other composite processes that can take 1-2 hours.

Our Class A type finish will stand up to the everyday use and abuse that your parts need. The decrease in total resin used results in lower weight and high glass ratios of finished goods. The shell can incorporate UV inhibitors to increase fade resistance and is also very resistant to chips and cracks due to the plastic absorbing the impact compared to very brittle gelcoat.

The TEC® process allows the addition of unique structure using various core materials. Cores may consist of foam, balsa wood, steel, aluminum etc. Cast foam cores allow three dimensional structures which may incorporate mounting hardware, hinges, etc.

This process has minimal VOC emissions which makes us industry leaders in respecting the environment and keeping our earth green.

Reviewing the Benefits of TEC® products (compared to other composite products)

  • Chip/Crack Resistant
  • Able to buff out minor damage
  • Fade resistant –UV inhibitors added
  • Wider Variety of Material Patterns, Colors, and Textures that create a Class A finish
  • A fraction of the cost for SMC or RTM tooling (about 25-40% of SMC or RTM tooling)
  • Shorter Cycle Times-Able to Produce High Quantities
  • No waiting for part to cure to free up mold tool
  • Great Strength/Weight Ratio because of high glass ratios
  • Ability to add core materials and brackets
  • Minimal VOC emissions
  • Depth of Image