Vacuum Forming

Vacuum forming is a technique in which a sheet of thermoplastic material is formed by way of heat and vacuum. The material is either pulled or pushed into a mold creating complex three dimensional shapes from a flat sheet.

Additional techniques, including plug-assist and pressure forming, can facilitate maintaining uniform wall thicknesses for particularly deep drawn shapes.  There are limitations to the geometry and depth of the formed part based on material, machine, tooling, and processing variables.  Vacuum forming is an economical alternative to injection molding for larger components. 

Typical applications include packaging trays and medical bedding components.

 

Advantages

  • Low cost tooling
  • Short lead-time
  • Complex shapes

 

Disadvantages

  • Slow manufacturing cycle
  • Relatively high piece part cost