About Vacuum Forming

Vacuum Forming, also known as Thermoforming, is the process of heating flat sheets of extruded plastic and applying this to a vacuum to be shaped around moulding and tooling.

The Benefits of Vacuum Forming:

Cost Effective

Vacuum Tooling techniques have low tooling costs, low material costs and prototypes can be easily produced making it a cost effective method of manufacturing.

Prototypes

Prototypes can be easily produced at a low cost, reducing the chances of manufacturing issues, reducing the risk of manufacturing issues.

Reusable Tooling

Moulds and tooling can be easily reused for large order quantities and repeat orders, making it a cost effective method of production.

Bespoke Designs

Custom made designs can be implemented and can be further enhanced after production using CNC trimming techniques.

The Process:

1. Clamping frames are used to ensure the flat sheets of extruded plastics are held in place during forming.

Types of Clamping frames available include:

  • 428 x 275 mm
  • 580 x 428 mm
  • 884 x 558 mm
  • 665 x 630 mm
  • 957 x 558 mm
  • 1130 x 610 mm
  • 1015 x 760 mm
  • 1170 x 860 mm
  • 1450 x 945 mm
  • 1700 x 1250 mm
  • 2000 x 1250 mm
  • Bespoke frame sizes can also be designed to better suit your project brief.

    2. A singer heater is used to heat plastic of a thickness up to 6 mm and a twin heater is used to heat plastic sheets of up to 10 mm thick. The heaters are infra-red generated, ensuring a uniform amount of heat is applied to the whole surface area of the plastic.

    3. Once the plastic is suitably heated, the vacuum is then applied. This consists of a vacuum pump used to draw the air from between the plastic and the mould.

    4. It is important to ensure that the plastic is properly cooled before being released. If this is not achieved it could result in deformation or damage to the plastic. Fans are often used to speed up the cooling process.

    5. Once this has been cooled and removed, any excess material is removed, and cutting, drilling and cut outs are implemented into the design, using various techniques such as CNC Routing machines.

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