Vacuum forming is a plastic thermoforming process that involves forming material (extruded plastic sheet goods or 4-way stretch supported vinyl) into three-dimensional shapes through the application of heat and pressure. During the vacuum forming process, raw material is heated until it becomes pliable, and then it is placed over a tool and drawn in by a vacuum until it takes on the desired shape of the mold. Thermoforming is a great method for producing parts that have sharp details and fit nicely as components or housings for specific products.
Thermoforming or vacuum forming is ideal for prototype development and low to mid volume production due to its relatively low tooling and engineering costs and fast turnaround time when compared to injection molding. Molds can be created from aluminum, wood, or epoxy. Materials range in thickness and may be general purpose, high heat, high impact, fire rated or weather resistant grades in a variety of standard or custom matched colors and finishes.
Materials include: ABS, ABS/Polycarbonate blend, Acrylic, Polyesters - PETG, Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polystyrene, Rigid PVC, Thermoplastic Olefins (TPO), decorative composites such as acrylic and vinyl films, Tri-Laminate Vinyl, Seamless Vinyl Upholstery
Typical Applications Include:
- Specialty automotive: interior trim pieces, headliners, dash panels
- Sport & utility vehicle: vinyl seat covers / skins, plastic caps
- Marine & recreational vehicle:storage tubs, livewell compartments
- Consumer products: refrigerator liners, shower surrounds
- Retail and display: casegood bins, tissue/napkin dispensers
- Packaging: protective carrying cases, trays, bins, plastic pallets
- Healthcare: vinyl upholstery for stools, chairs & exam tables, operating room equipment housings, hospital bed surrounds
- Seating: backpanels, adjuster covers, armcaps
- Sound proofing / noise control: diffusers
- Bezels, panels, guards & housings for industrial, electronic, sport and leisure equipment