Vacuum forming offers advantage over other process for some products and projects. The advantage of plastic vacuum forming is its flexibility, cost effectiveness and speed of production. Prototypes can be produced quickly. Tooling costs are also substantially less expensive in comparison to most other plastic process manufacturing.

What is Vacuum Forming?

Put simply plastic vacuum forming is where a sheet of plastic is heated until pliable, it is then allowed to shape to a mould by applying a vacuum. Once the forming has been cooled and hardened once again it can be trimmed and finished as required.

Modern vacuum formers offer increasingly large widths and depths. This allows for increasingly large and complex products to be vacuum formed as well as reducing the time taken to manufacture smaller, simpler products.

Developments  in material available will also enable more complex finishes, embosses & textures as well as an almost limitless range of colours. More specialised qualities such as fire retardation, antibacterial additives and chemical resistance can be incorporated.

Typical materials used include

  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene ABS
  • Polyester Copolymer PETG
  • Polystyrene PS
  • Polycarbonate PC
  • Polypropylene PP
  • Polyethylene (sheet and foamed sheet) PE
  • Polyvinyl Chloride PVC
  • Acrylic PMMA

More on vacuum forming

Vac forming uses low pressures and that means the moulds used can be made of inexpensive materials and mould fabrication time can be reasonably short.

Often a secondary finishing process is required such as laser profiling or trimming to complete the project.

The most efficient vacuum forming projects require up-to-date machinery than ensures the product is manufactured to the greatest level of efficiency – minimising the time on the machine to reduce energy use etc. Skilled and experienced staff are also required to ensure the highest efficiency and quality of the product. Always speak to experienced vac forming specialists before starting any vacuum forming project.

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