Thermoformed TPO Rear Valance

Northern Plastics Inc. was approached by an automotive parts supplier to manufacture a line of custom-thermoformed rear bumper valances for a brand of minivan.

The client needed the rear valance to transform the van from a standard OEM vehicle into an industry standard handicap accessible vehicle.

With decades of experience in manufacturing interior and exterior thermoformed vehicular parts, Northern Plastics Inc. was able to quickly evaluate the client’s needs and devise an appropriate solution.

To make the rear of the vehicle wheelchair accessible, we replaced the stock bumper valance with a customized design that could accommodate the connections and fittings needed for industry approved ramps. For this project, we worked closely with client-supplied prints to ensure that the final product reflected industry standards.

For the custom-made rear valance, we used heavy gauge TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) due to its balance of strength and durability. Other beneficial properties such as impact resistance and high flexural modulus made TPO an ideal material for this particular application.

As specified in the client’s drawings, the valance had measurements of 68 in x 7.5 in x 23 in in length, width, and height respectively. Based on these dimensions, the TPO sheet was thermoformed on our 6 ft x 10 ft Single Station Thermoformer using our Articulating Clamp Frame onto an aluminum water cooled vacuum forming tool. A smooth inner and outer surface finish was used for the final product. The fabrication process was then completed by accurately trimming the thermoformed component using a 5-Axis Dual-Table CNC Router and deburring it to round off the edges.

The production run for this component consisted of 2000 units. Each rear valance was visually inspected to ensure that the linear and radial dimensions aligned with the contours of the minivan as well as the intended accessibility features. Northern Plastic Inc.’s ISO 9001:2015-certified facility, processes and procedures made it possible to manufacture a product that exceeded client expectations and met the requirements for disabled accessibility.

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TPO Rear Valance Highlights


Primary: Thermoforming
Secondary: CNC Trim
Equipment Used to Manufacture Part6 x 10 Single Station Thermoformer
5 Axis Dual Table CNC Router
Articulating Clamp Frame
Aluminum Water Cooled Tool
Overall Part Dimensions 68″ x 7.5″ x 23″
ToleranceOEM StandardsMaterial UsedTPOMaterial FinishSmooth/Smooth
In process testing/inspection performedDimensional Inspection
Visual Inspection
Industry for UseAutomotiveVolumeProduction Run
2000 units
Delivery LocationUSAStandards MetISO 9001
Customer Supplied Prints
Product NameRear Valance