What Is Vacuum Forming?


Vacuum forming may very well be a term most people haven’t heard of before. However, vacuum forming is something many of us come into contact with almost on an everyday basis.

Vacuum forming is a process in which a plastic sheet is heated until it softens and then forced against a mold. Once the plastic cools and hardens, it takes the shape of the mold. This process is used to make a variety of items, from packaging to complex medical devices. Vacuum forming is a cost-efficient process that can create complex shapes in one piece. It is also a good way to create large numbers of items quickly. Vacuum forming is a versatile process that is used in many industries, including automotive, aerospace, packaging, medical, and consumer products.


Vacuum forming, what is it?


Vacuum forming is the manufacturing process of shaping plastic around products for them to be packaged in. The plastic is heated and pulled around a molded suction. This process is commonly used for packing electronics and food products. Convex (positive) molds are placed under the plastic to shape the inside dimensions of the item. Conversely, concave (negative) molds are placed over the plastic to shape the outer dimensions of the item. This process is described in more detail below.


The process


  • A plastic sheet is clamped into place
  • The plastic is heated to a temperature warm enough to make it malleable
  • The plastic is then ready to come into contact with the appropriate mold
  • A vacuum pulls it into place
  • Plastic needs time to cool
  • The plastic is then separated from the mold
  • Trim and/or smooth the edges for the final product


Why we use vacuum forming


Vacuum forming has many benefits. First, this process is relatively affordable compared to other means of manufacturing (especially for smaller production capacity). There is also a much quicker turnaround time. It takes almost as little as half the time compared to other manufacturing processes that might involve injection molds. Additionally, this type of manufacturing allows producers the freedom to test their ideas on prototypes, especially because the molds can be used with aluminum, foam, or even wood and come in many options of colors. Therefore, vacuum forming is used across a variety of industries. These industries include automotive (to create bumpers), industrial (to create crates), packaging (to create toothbrush packs), consumer goods (to create toys), medical (to create pill trays), and custom parts (to create movie props).


As you can see, vacuum forming is highly practical and functional for many industries. The affordability, quick turnaround time, and flexibility to test prototypes make this manufacturing process one that is highly sought after. Because of this, there is no shortage of parts all around us that have been created using vacuum forming.


If vacuum forming is something that is needed for your business, please reach out to us. With our efficient production machines, close relationships with plastic suppliers, and hardworking team, we’ll be sure to get the job done right.

Let’s chat: https://theprodesigngroup.com/contact-us/