⋅ Vacuum forming is a manufacturing method used to forming plastic materials. Vacuum forming is used for a wide variety of manufacturing applications,
from small custom parts to large parts produced on automated industrial machinery.
⋅ Many professional manufacturers choose vacuum forming as it offers a combination of design flexibility at a relatively low cost compared to
other production methods.
⋅ Thermoforming is a manufacturing process in which a plastic sheet is heated to make it bendable, then shaped using a mold and cut to create a final part or
product. Vacuum forming and pressure forming are different types of thermoforming processes. The main difference between pressure forming and
vacuum forming is the number of dies used.
⋅ Vacuum forming is the simplest type of plastic thermoforming that uses a mold and vacuum pressure to achieve the desired part geometry. Ideal for parts that
only need to be precisely shaped on one side.
⋅ There are two basic types of molds, male (concave/positive) and female (convex/negative). In male molds, the plastic sheet is placed over the mold to
contour the internal dimensions of the plastic part. In female molds, the thermoplastic sheet is placed inside the mold in such a way that it precisely forms
the outer dimensions of the part.
Benefits of Vacuum Forming
Flexibility / Increased Manufacturability / Efficiency
Vacuum forming gives designers more color, texture, coat options and customization options. This gives many businesses the freedom to offer unique designs and produce special products in the most appropriate way. Vacuum forming also gives designers and manufacturers the flexibility to test new designs and build prototypes without major overhead or fabrication times.
In modern society it is difficult to go an entire day without coming into contact with at least one piece made by vacuum forming. This manufacturing process is used to produce a wide variety of parts in a wide variety of industries, including the items listed below.
Consumer Goods: Vacuum forming is used in the production of white goods, electronic appliances, and many functional or decorative products. For example, in the control panels of the white goods industry, different form/image combinations are produced with IML/IMD/FIM applications including vacuum forming method.
Automotive and Transportation: Manufacturers use vacuum forming to produce large numbers of parts in cars, buses, boats and airplanes. Most of the decorative or functional parts used in automobiles and interiors, from bumpers to other body parts or accessories, are produced using vacuum forming.
Also, most of the parts used in automobiles are produced with IML/IMD/FIM applications.
Packing and Packaging: Vacuum forming is used in most packaging processes. It is also commonly used for food packaging, especially as it is compatible with food grade plastic and can produce parts that are easy to sterilize.