What Is Vacuum Forming?

Here at Stephens Plastic Mouldings, we are proud to offer a wide range of plastic manufacturing services. Therefore, we can accommodate many different requirements, applications, and sectors. One of the services we offer is vacuum forming – a process you may have heard of, but might not be sure what it entails. However, if you look around you right now, it is likely that you will be able to see vacuum formed products everywhere. Some of the common products include:

  • Traffic light housing
  • Plastic bottles
  • Bathtubs
  • Kitchen utensils

It is one of the most diverse plastic fabrication processes on the market. It can transform one sheet of plastic into almost anything you need. So, we now know what vacuum forming is: a type of plastic fabrication technique. So how does it work?

How Does Vacuum Forming Work?

Although the process can sound a bit complicated, in fact the stages of vacuum forming are relatively simple. This is providing the vacuum forming company has all of the necessary tools and equipment.

Firstly, a plastic sheet is heated across its entire surface area. This is throughout its thickness until it reaches its forming temperature. Different plastics will have different forming temperatures so the target temperature will vary from plastic to plastic. The forming temperature is when the sheet becomes soft and pliable – and therefore can be fabricated into different shapes. Once the sheet is at its forming temperature, it is then draped over a surface or a mould of the desired product shape. Then a low-pressure vacuum is applied to it. This vacuum essentially sucks in the sheet plastic and forces it against the mould. As a result of this, it produces the shape of the product you require.

Next, once the plastic has set into the mould shape, it’s taken out of the machine and any excess material is trimmed. There are many different trimming methods to use and different tools are used for them. During this stage, any necessary holes, slots, or cut-outs can be made into the component, as well as any decoration or assembly.

Vacuum Forming Plastics

Put simply, vacuum forming transforms sheet plastic into an item of choice. When it comes to choosing the materials, most thermoplastics will be suitable for the process. Each thermoplastic comes with its own set of properties which will help you determine whether it is right for the product you have in mind. Some of the most common vacuum forming thermoplastics are:

  • Acrylic
  • Polyethylene
  • Polycarbonate
  • Polystyrene

Advantages Of Vacuum Forming

After you have discovered what it is, it is likely that you want to know advantages of vacuum forming. There is a lot that comes with this type of plastic fabrication. It offers endless possibilities of products in many different shapes and sizes. Due to the nature of the process, as long as you can produce a mould for it, you can use it to make almost any shape.

Whether you are looking for a regular production line or you are looking for a one-off product, vacuum forming could be the best solution for you. The process is fast and requires little labour. This means that it is incredibly cost-effective in comparison to other plastic manufacturing processes. Additionally, because of the low-pressure vacuum process, the mould doesn’t need to be made from a particularly high-quality material, which can also save you money. Mould fabrication time is also reasonably fast, making vacuum forming a much more economical and faster option than other plastic fabrication methods.

Stephens Plastics Services

Stephens Plastics have years of experience in all forms of plastic fabrication including. Are looking for more information on what vacuum forming is? Or, would like to find out more about our vacuum forming services? Then please get in touch with us today.

Found this blog post helpful? Check out our other blog posts on What Makes Plastic Injection Moulding So Popular? or A Quick Guide To The Metal Casting Process.

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Please contact us if you would like to receive a quotation and/or to find our more about how we can provide the service you are looking for.

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