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Thermoforming is one of the oldest and most common methods of processing plastic materials. Vacuum formed products are all around us and play a major part in our daily lives.

The process involves heating a plastic sheet until soft and then draping it over a mould. A vacuum is applied sucking the sheet into the mould. The sheet is then ejected from the mould. In its advanced form, the vacuum forming process utilizes sophisticated pneumatic, hydraulic and heat controls thus enabling higher production speeds and more detailed vacuum formed applications.

Nature of use and limitations

Vacuum forming offers several processing advantages over other forming processes. Low forming pressures are used thus enabling comparatively low cost tooling.

Since the process uses low pressures, the moulds can be made of inexpensive materials and mould fabrication time can be reasonably short. Prototype and low quantity requirements of large parts, as well as medium size runs therefore become economical.

More sophisticated machines and moulds are used for continuous automated production of high volume items like yoghurt pots, disposable cups and sandwich packs.

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