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Pricing Structure for Custom Thermoformed Packaging

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Feb 5, 2018 1:44:26 PM

We want to make it easy for interested parties to determine if a custom thermoformed packaging solution from Dordan works within their budget. While preparing a quote for a thermoform part usually requires a lot of information gathering on the side of the supplier, and thus a one-size-fits-all approach to pricing doesn't really apply, there are common pricing indicators shared among all thermoform quotes: These are material, run quantity, part size, and tooling.


There are many types of materials that lend themselves to plastics thermoforming. While the resin market is always fluctuating, recycled polyethylene terephthalate (RPET) is an affordable material that is used often for thermoformed packaging. It is a recycled or reprocessed material, therefore having sustainability implications, while maintaining good clarity and performance. For non-visual packaging like thermoformed dunnage or work in process trays, high impact polystyrene (HIPS) can be a suitable selection. The more exotic the material requirement, like color matching or flocked, generally the more expensive the part from which it’s formed.

Run Quantity

As custom thermoformers, we buy the majority of material custom for each order. This allows us to maintain our own rigid standards for material acceptability, while facilitating a lean warehouse. Each material has its own minimum buy requirements, which means if the thermoform part order quantity does not consume the minimum buy, then the cost of the scrap is applied towards the part price. Thus, too small of orders may not make economical sense. In most cases, standard materials--like RPET and HIPS--have lower minimum buy requirements than more exotic materials.

Part Size

The part price is also based on the size of the thermoformed part. The more material consumed in its production, the more expensive the part. If the part has a deep draw, a thicker starting gauge material is necessary to allow adequate material distribution throughout the form. Selecting the appropriate material thickness for a thermoformed part needs to balance performance requirements with cost considerations as too thin of a starting gauge will often times render the part unfunctionable.


Dordan has two machining formats: small and large; small machine tooling is cheaper than large machine tooling. Our small machining formats have a press that can form parts up to 20 x 20; our large machining formats have a press that can form parts up to 36 x 30. The decision to use a small vs. large machine depends on the part form/performance requirements, run quantity, and material thickness. The cost of tooling includes complete thermoform part design and development, prototyping, and the machining and assembly of production tooling.

Download Pricing Structure

custom thermoformed clamshell

Above: Custom thermoformed clamshell

To Attend SPC Impact as Contributing Writer/Reporter for Packaging Digest

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Jan 18, 2018 2:54:51 PM

Hello my sustainable packaging friends!

The last few years I have had the pleasure of attending sustainable packaging conference SustPack as a writer and reporter for Packaging Digest. Check out some of my video interviews here. This year, SustPack has evolved into two different sustainable packaging conferences: SPC Impact (San Francisco), produced by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and Sustainability in Packaging (Chicago), produced by Smithers Pira. Packaging Digest has partnered exclusively with the SPC for their spring conference, SPC Impact; so, I get to go to San Fran to report from the front lines of sustainable packaging!!!

SPC Impact promises to offer an impressive assortment of sustainable packaging expertise as it relates to "the big picture" of sustainability. The conference website reads,

Industry efforts to improve packaging are widespread and a common understanding has been developed, allowing more advanced conversations throughout the entire supply chain. It’s time to ensure that our actions are aligned with the bigger picture. Meaningful progress needs to be made towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and packaging improvements and innovations have the power to contribute. SPC Impact brings together the leading packaging decision-makers and influencers to focus on contextualizing opportunities for packaging, expanding the possibilities while bringing perspective of our planetary boundaries.

Having participated in sustainable packaging conferences for almost 10 years, I am excited by the contextualized, action-oriented approach SPC Impact is taking. As noted above, the rhetoric on sustainable packaging has become rather sophisticated; what matters now, therefore, is using the industry's elevated knowledge to facilitate measurable progress on environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

To learn more about SPC Impact, click here.

I hope to see you in San Fran April 24-26 for SPC Impact!

Sustainable Packaging CoalitionPackaging Digest


Topics: Sustainable packaging, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, SPC Impact

Dordan's Year in Review: Most popular content of 2017

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Dec 27, 2017 3:03:22 PM


I hope everyone had a very Happy Holiday!

As we approach 2018, it's time to look back on our most popular content of 2017, as demonstrated through views, clicks, likes, shares, and downloads. Thank you for your interest in Dordan this year; we look forward to continuing to engage you with content in of 2017.png

Top Three Blog Posts:

The third most-viewed blog post of 2017 was, "How Dordan Designs Packaging for Thermoforming in 6 Steps." This post is based on an interview with Dordan's Engineering Manager on the package developmental process at Dordan, which is a multi-departmental collaboration between Engineering, Production, and Quality Control.

The second most-viewed blog post of 2017 was, "Christmas Clearing House Delivers Joy Saturday." Published last week, this post describes Woodstock's annual gift giving operation, which brings toys and meals to over 1,000 families in Woodstock and Wonder Lake.

Most Popular Blog Post:

The most-viewed blog post in 2017 was, "Woodstock Mural Nears Completion: Photos of Dordan's Slavin with Mural Artist and Designer."

Published in August, it begins,

In May I wrote about Dordan's donation to the Woodstock Mural Project, a community-wide art project dedicated to celebrating Woodstock's cultural legends. Dordan is in Woodstock, IL, (where Bill Murray's Groundhog Day was filmed!) and as such, maintains a deep commitment to the betterment of the Woodstock community. We work here, we live here, and we are invested in the sustainment of the local economy and social fabric that makes Woodstock a great place to thermoform custom packaging solutions.

Last week I had the opportunity to meet the mural artist, Mark Adamany, for a photo, along with mural designer, Michael Stanard. Stanard is owner of Woodstock's prominent graphic design studio, OneZeroCharlie, and Adamany is Chicago land's premier artist for large format murals out of Rockford, IL. The mural is nearing completion, and it really does look incredible. Here we are in front of a completed portion of it:

Woodstock Mural photo 1.png

Click here to keep reading.

Most Popular eBlast:

The most read eblast of 2017 advertised an article I wrote for Packaging Digest titled, "How to Change Plastic's 'Waste' Reputation." The eblast reads:

Hi friend,

Check out Dordan's new Packaging Digest article, "How to Change Plastic's 'Waste' Reputation," and join the conversation on the perspective of plastics. Let's #changetheconversation together.

Click here for the new article.


Chandler Slavin, Sustainability @DordanMfg

Dordan Manufacturing Co. Inc.

Custom Thermoformers Since 1962

Most Downloaded Content:

The most downloaded content from in 2017 was our Company Fact Sheet, a 2-page overview of our products, services, and capabilities. Click here to download the Fact Sheet.

Most Shared Content on LinkedIn:

The most shared content on LinkedIn was an October blog post summarizing my experiences at International Pack Expo in Las Vegas. Titled "Interaction, Virtual Reality, and Automation Trend at PACK EXPO," the post describes my experiences at my favorite exhibits.

virtual reality.jpg

Above: I experiment with virtual reality @PACK EXPO

Click here for the post.

Most Liked Content on LinkedIn:

The most liked LinkedIn post of 2017 was, "Julian Slavin brings Dordan into 4th-generation" with a link to the associated press release. Dordan is a family owned and operated custom thermoformer, so when my nephew joined the company this past summer, we officially entered 4th-generation operation. Click here for the press release.

Most Twitter Retweets/Mentions:

@DordanMfg was mentioned in a popular Tweet by @TIPACorp that reads, Sustainable Packaging Insights Ignite Social #SustPack17 Sharing | @PackagingDigest summary @DordanMfg.

This is in reference to a Packaging Digest article I wrote following sustainable packaging conference SustPack17, which was a compilation of the most popular tweets from the event.

Thank you to all those that opened, clicked, liked, and shared Dordan's content in 2017. Wishing you all a very happy New Year!

Woodstock's Christmas Clearing House delivers joy Saturday

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Dec 14, 2017 9:10:29 AM

Hey guys!

Dordan has been in Woodstock, IL, since the early 90s, but just became aware of it's Christmas Clearing House this year. Produced by the Woodstock Rotary Club, Christmas Clearing House is an impressive operation that delivers toys and meals to over 1,000 families, children, and elders in Woodstock and Wonder Lake. Hundreds of volunteers donate their time to the organization and execution of Christmas Clearing House, which ensures that no family goes with out a Merry Christmas. 

Here's how it works: schools, volunteers and businesses collect and donate money and toys. All the toys are purchased and assembled in a warehouse, where volunteers unpack and segregate the toys by age group and gender. The segregated toys are then counted to determine how many gifts each family receives. Then volunteers are assigned to needy families, receiving corresponding demographics, and move through the warehouse collecting appropriate toys. The following day donated and purchased food is boxed up for the same families, to be delivered by more volunteers on "delivery day." This year delivery day is Saturday, December 16th. Here is a video of the whole operation:

This year I helped with the toy unpacking, segregation by age and gender, and counting. Here are some behind the scene photos:


Christmas clearing house.jpg

Above: Volunteers unpack and sort toys

christmas clearing house 2.jpg

Above: Sorted toys are stacked for counting

Christmas clearing house 3.jpg

Above: Counted toys are placed in big gaylords for volunteers to collect for families

Christmas clearing house 4.jpg

Above: TOYS!

Rotary Club's motto is "service above self;" Christmas Clearing House is service above self manifested, to the delight of hundreds of families. It was truly wonderful to be able to participate in this incredible effort, made possible only through the selfless acts of hundreds of volunteers. While this is the first year that Dordan participated in Christmas Clearing House, it will not be the last. Dordan looks forward to making more of an impact next year as it continues to become more engaged with the local community. Thank you, Rotary Club, for allowing me to spread Christmas cheer this year! Learn more about Christmas Clearing House here.


Topics: Corporate sustainability, Woodstock, Volunteering, Christmas Clearing House

Photorealistic package design renderings portfolio

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Nov 30, 2017 10:59:20 AM

Hey guys!

Due to the interest in "How Dordan Designs Packaging for Thermoforming in 6 Steps," I put together a portfolio of some of our photorealistic package design renderings.

Photorealistic Rendering Portfolio

The generation of photorealistic renderings can be part of the package design process at Dordan, should the customer wish to see a fully-engineered, visually accurate representation of a package design before moving to prototype. These renderings are engineered 100%-to-spec, literally built around the physical products they are to house/display/protect.

Photorealistic renderings demonstrate our design for thermoforming process, which is when consideration for the thermoforming process is fundamental to the package engineering process itself. It is one thing to design an attractive package; it is another thing to design an attractive package that is easy to thermoform and functions as desired. This is where Dordan excells as a custom designer and manufacturer of thermoformed packaging for 55-years: at the intersection of design and manufacturing.

And here is a photorealistic rendering video just for fun:

Topics: package design, thermoform packaging, Thermoformed packaging, clamshell package design, Clamshell packaging, Thermoforming, design for thermoforming, thermoform design

PET Sheets & Thermoforms Summit: Recycling black thermoforms and the circular economy

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Nov 28, 2017 3:29:37 PM

Hey guys!

So I had no idea this is a thing but apparently, black thermoformed trays are invisible to near-infrared sorting machines in recycling facilities and are therefore unable to be sorted for recycling. I received an email for PET Sheets & Thermoforms Summit February 19-20 in London that reads,

Over a billion black trays used for ready meals and fruits by supermarkets end up in landfills. Although recyclable, these trays are 'invisible' to near-infrared sorting machines in recycling facilities. Now a cross-industry group, including leading retailers, have committed to enable sustainable recycling of all black plastic packaging including black trays by end of 2018.

Nextek has developed a new black pigment that allows it to be spotted by infrared and it is under trial at British recycling firm Viridor’s plant. Some estimates say that its costs about 0.5p a tray to use either a different colour or a special black pigment that can be detected by recycling machines.

The summit is to have presentations on challenges and progress with recycling black thermoformed trays and what the thermoforming industry is doing about the circular economy. Click here for the summit agenda.

I thought this information was timely considering the article I just wrote for Packaging Digest on PET thermoform recycling in the EU.

Learn about Dordan's efforts to recycle thermoformed packaging here.

Topics: thermoformed trays, Thermoform recycling, circular economy

How to Expand Recycling of PET Thermoform Packaging in Europe

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Nov 15, 2017 9:01:51 AM

Check out my new article for Packaging Digest, "How to expand recycling of PET thermoform packaging in Europe" for an update on thermoform recycling in the EU. It begins,

My most popular blog post “How clamshells became recyclable and recycled”  describes the journey of post-consumer PET thermoformed packaging in North America from landfilled in 2009, to collected for recycling in 2013, to recycled in 2015. Today, a handful of reclaimers reprocess post-consumer PET thermoforms into second- or third-generation material and products.

Several months ago, a friend asked me about the end-of-life management of post-consumer PET thermoforms in the European Union (EU). Recently hired by an international consumer packaged goods (CPG) company, he was now responsible for the sustainability of the packaging he put on store shelves around the world. Were PET thermoforms recycled in the EU, he wanted to know?

Click here to keep reading.

medical device tray-2.png

Above: PET thermoformed tray

Topics: Recycling thermoformed packaging, Recycling thermforms, Thermoformed packaging, Clamshell recycling

How Dordan Designs Packaging for Thermoforming in 6 Steps

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Nov 8, 2017 1:30:10 PM

Dordan is a full-service thermoform designer and manufacturer. Because we have complete control over the design and production of thermoformed packaging, our approach to package design is collaborative, leveraging our engineering, production, and quality control expertise.

What follows is a discussion of Dordan’s thermoform packaging developmental process in six steps, with special attention to the multi-departmental, collaborative foundation that all designs are built upon.

Step One: Understand the Customer’s Packaging Priorities and Requirements

The first step in Dordan’s thermoform package design process is the Account Manager ascertains all the project requirements and particulars from the customer. What is the primary function of the package?

Step Two: New Project Report

Next, the Account Manager communicates the packaging priorities to the Engineering Manager in the form of a new project report. Everything, from performance requirements to potential failure points, is included in the new project report. The physical product is provided, and if 3D files exist, so too are they. If there are other packaging components that correspond to the selling unit for which the thermoformed part is being designed for, like an insert/graphics card, shipping container/tote, etc., then these are also provided along with the new project report.

Step Three: Review Report

The Engineering Manager then reviews the new project report with the Account Manager, elucidating on the particulars and clarifying questions. Things like, “how is the package loaded?” or, “how is the package transported?” are discussed at this time so the Engineering Manager can understand the whole life cycle of the thermoformed part he is designing.

To Dordan’s Engineering Manager, the new project report is the fundamental building block of the package design. Without the correct fundamentals—which are communicated at this point—you can’t make the best design possible, based on the project requirements. Thus, Dordan’s Engineering Manager uses the new project report as the template to base all his package design decisions around.

Step Four: Design Review with Production

In the forth step of Dordan’s package developmental process, Dordan’s Engineering Manager meets with Dordan’s Production Manager. This is a design review to ensure that the package design will achieve the customer’s functional requirements while being easy to manufacture; and therefore, of high-quality production. At this point in the packaging developmental process areas of concern are addressed, and suggestions discussed. Dordan’s Engineering Manager explains, “We review the project and isolate areas of concern. We take a step back and consider other ways of designing the part to achieve the same function with the goal of reducing potential thermoforming issues.” Therefore, the design and production of thermoformed parts go hand-in-hand at Dordan: functional and manufacturable are the cornerstones of all of Dordan’s designs. Nothing is designed in a vacuum, but instead, designed with complete regard for the production process itself. Dordan’s packages are designed for thermoforming.

Step Five: Engineer the Design

At this point, Dordan’s Engineering Manager will either request more information from the Account Manager if variable unknowns still exist; or, begin engineering the thermoformed package to produce prototypes. The intent of the prototypes is to demonstrate part form and function. The Account Manager is then debriefed by the Engineering Manager on the functionality and design of the prototypes, and the prototypes are presented to the customer. If the prototypes meet the customer’s expectations, the package design is approved and the production tooling machined and assembled on-site at Dordan. If the prototype does not meet the customer’s expectations, the design is revised accordingly until it does.

Dordan also has the ability to produce photorealistic renderings of package designs before moving to prototype. These renderings are engineered 100% to spec, literally built around the physical products themselves. The renderings take into account all the requirements of thermoforming like draft, radiuses, material thickness, etc., and are therefore more than just pretty pictures; instead, they are thermoformable, functional images that demonstrate true shelf impact. Examples are included here:

plastic clamshell photorealistic rendering.png

Above: Photorealistic rendering, without graphics card

wire frame.png

Above: Wire Frame of Rendering

photorealistic rendering with partial graphics.png

Above: Photorealistic rendering with partial graphics

photorealistic rendering with graphics card.png

Above: Photorealistic rendering with generic graphics

photorealistic rendering with graphics 2.png

Step Six: Engineering, Production and Quality Control Design Review

Before a new package is produced, Dordan’s Engineering Manager meets with Dordan’s Production Manager and Dordan’s Quality Control Manager to discuss the important aspects of the package’s form and function that need to be verified and validated on the line to confirm specifications and performance requirements are met. Because Dordan is a custom thermoformer, each new project has its own set of requirements and specifications. Thus Dordan’s Engineering Manager, Production Manager, and Quality Control Manager hold a formal meeting whereby these custom sets of requirements are reviewed. Dordan’s Engineering Manager explains, “In the design process there may be customer requests that are critical and non-standard. These need to be communicated to quality control and checked during production to ensure said critical dimensions or functional attributes are being produced as intended.” Thus, the point of the meetings between engineering, production and quality control is to develop a game plan to allow for the production of the highest-quality parts that function in the best way possible, based on the specific project requirements.

At Dordan, packaging is designed and produced collaboratively. Beginning with sales and ending with quality control, Dordan knows how to produce consistently high-quality thermoformed parts and packaging through its multi-departmental, collaborative approach. Leveraging this expertise, Dordan designs packaging for thermoforming. This approach to thermoform design and production allows Dordan to provide custom thermoformed packaging solutions to an array of industries with varying needs and performance requirements.

Dordan has been designing and manufacturing custom thermoformed packaging for 55-years. We have the experience needed to produce high-quality thermoformed products and packaging that meet the expectations of our customers. Contact Dordan for your next packaging project for packaging that performs, on and off the line.

Download this content here:

How Dordan Designs Packaging in 6 Steps

Learn more about our thermoform package design.

Woodstock's Dordan Manufacturing Celebrates its 55th Anniversary

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Nov 2, 2017 8:22:13 AM

Hey guys!

Dordan was featured in local newspaper, the Northwest Herald, for our 55th anniversary. Titled, "Woodstock's Dordan Manufacturing Celebrates its 55th Anniversary," the article is a brief overview of Dordan's thermoformed products, package design, tooling, and production services. Reporter Brittany Kepperman writes,

Dordan Manufacturing is striving to grow its business and stay on top of technology trends such as robotics use as it celebrates its 55th anniversary.

Woodstock-based Dordan is a thermoformed packaging manufacturing company that creates products such as plastic clamshell and tray packaging for clients across industries.

"We take pretty much anything and make a package to go around it," said Chandler Slavin, sustainability, marketing and account manager with Dordan.

The full service company wants to stay on top of every aspect of a product's creation, from its design to its eventual completion and storage for clients, Slavin said.

Click here to keep reading.

Learn more about Dordan.

Dordan Manufacturing.png

Above: My brother Aric explaining how plastic sheet is fed into the thermoformer

Photo credit: Northwest Herald, Sarah Nadar

Topics: package design, thermoformed trays, custom thermoforming, plastic clamshells, plastic blisters, Thermoforming, custom thermoformer, plastic thermoformer, plastics thermoformer

Dordan Celebrates 55th Anniversary Thermoforming Custom Packaging with the Implementation of Robotics; hosts tour with City of Woodstock

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Oct 25, 2017 9:27:57 AM

Woodstock, IL—October 25th, 2017—Custom thermoforming company Dordan Manufacturing, of Woodstock, IL, celebrates its 55th anniversary with the implementation of robotics, marking yet another milestone for this family-owned and operated business. Dordan hosts tour with the City of Woodstock to commemorate the occasion.

Dordan has been designing and manufacturing plastic thermoformed packaging solutions like plastic clamshells, blisters, trays, and components since 1962, when it operated in a small storefront shop on Elston Avenue in Chicago. Owned by Edwin and Vivian Slavin, the company took a more progressive turn with the appointment of current CEO & President Daniel Slavin as majority owner in the mid-1970s. Just in his early twenties at the time, Daniel had the foresight to see where the industry was heading, and invested in CAM/CNC produced tooling and microprocessor based thermoformers. With the commitment to outstanding quality and engineering-based thermoform designs, Slavin propelled Dordan through the decades, evolving the firm from its modest beginnings into the sophisticated design and production house it its today. Spanning 50,000 square feet with 11 in-line thermoforming machines that have the capacity to convert 75 million pounds of material annually, Dordan is a one-stop shop for highly-engineered thermoformed products and packaging for the healthcare, electronics, retail, automotive, and industrial end markets and industries.

Dordan Manufacturing isn’t slowing down as it nears its 6th decade of business. The company is investing in robotics that streamline the pipeline and produce parts smarter, faster, and cheaper. Slavin explains, “We’re generating additional production capacity with the implementation of automation platforms via robotics. These add-on processes expedite in-line thermoforming, and married with our skillful use of labor efficiency and asset utilization, allow us to continue to provide high-quality thermoformed products in quick-turn time at competitive pricing to our customers. Slavin reflects on the company’s move into automation: “If you don’t evolve, you don’t survive.”

As it celebrates its 55th anniversary, Dordan Manufacturing looks forward to continuing to exercise its commitment to corporate sustainability. With various initiatives aimed at the social, economic, and environmental sustainment of the company, community, and industry, Dordan is invested for the long-term. Dordan’s Sustainability Coordinator Chandler Slavin comments, “Dordan is a family-company that cares deeply about the products we make, people we employ and service, and community we operate in. As a corporation, we believe it is our responsibility to be a conscientious company, dedicated to the sustainment of the plastics and manufacturing industries, and the local community.”

Dordan celebrates 55-years thermoforming

Above: Members of the City of Woodstock with (from left to right) Dordan's Chandler Slavin, Aric Slavin and Daniel Slavin; Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager pictured center right.

Learn more about custom thermoformer Dordan Manufacturing.

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