What Is Vacuum Forming?

June 10, 2022 12:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Vacuum forming is a process of thermoforming plastic sheets using vacuum pressure to form a mold. This process is often used to create packaging, signage, and other products.

The process of vacuum forming begins with a sheet of plastic placed over a mold. The mold is then placed in a vacuum forming machine, using vacuum pressure to suck the plastic sheet onto the mold. Once the plastic sheet is in place, it is heated until soft enough to be shaped into the mold. After the plastic has cooled and hardened, you have the mold.

Types of Molds That Are Used in Vacuum Forming

There are two types of molds used in vacuum forming: male and female. Male molds are typically made out of wood or metal and negatively impact the desired product. Female molds are made from a material that can withstand high temperatures, such as plaster or silicone.

Materials Used in Vacuum Forming

The material must be able to withstand the high temperatures of the vacuum forming process. Common materials used in vacuum forming include acrylic, styrene, and polycarbonate.

Polycarbonate: Polycarbonate is a clear, strong, and stiff plastic. It is often used in vacuum forming for its strength and transparency. It’s a suitable choice for vacuum-forming signs and displays.

Styrene: Styrene is a lightweight plastic that is easy to vacuum form. It is often used for vacuum forming packaging, such as blister packs and clamshells.

Acrylic: Acrylic is a clear plastic that can be easily vacuum formed. It is often used in vacuum forming for its transparency and durability.

Vacuum Forming Process

Vacuum forming and fabrication are two processes that are often used together to create products. Vacuum forming is used to create the product’s shape, while fabrication is used to add details and finish the product. The vacuum forming process can be divided into five steps: clamping, heating, vacuum forming, cooling, and trimming.


Clamping involves holding the plastic sheet in place on the mold. This can be done with a vacuum former, which uses vacuum pressure to hold the sheet, or with a mechanical clamp. This step is integral to the vacuum forming process, as it ensures that the plastic sheet does not move during the heating or vacuum forming steps.


Heating the plastic sheet is necessary to make it soft enough to be vacuum formed. The sheet is placed in an oven and heated until it reaches its forming temperature. Energy controllers regulate the oven temperature and prevent the sheet from being overheated.

Vacuum Forming

Once the plastic sheet is heated, it is placed over the mold and vacuumed. A vacuum former uses vacuum pressure to suck the plastic sheet onto the mold. The vacuum forming process can also be done using a vacuum chamber.


After the plastic sheet is vacuum formed, it is cooled to retain its shape. The mold is placed in a cooling chamber or cooled with air blowers. Failure to properly cool the plastic can result in warping or distortion.


Once the plastic has cooled and hardened, it is trimmed to its desired shape. This is typically done with a knife or die cutter. Holes, cuts, and other features can also be added at this stage. Types of trimming include die trimming and knife trimming.

D&D Plastics vacuum forming and fabrication services can help you create various products, from signs to packaging. We offer two types of molds: male and female. Our vacuum forming process is divided into five steps: clamping, heating, vacuum forming, cooling, and trimming. We use high-quality materials like acrylic, styrene, and polycarbonate to create durable and transparent products. Contact us today to learn more about our vacuum forming and fabrication services.

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