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What is a vacuum forming machine used for?

What Is Vacuum Forming?

Vacuum forming is a manufacturing method used to shape plastic materials. During the vacuum forming process, a sheet of plastic is heated and then pulled around a single mold using suction.

Vacuum forming machine is used for a wide range of manufacturing applications, ranging from small custom parts produced on desktop devices to large parts manufactured on automated industrial machinery.

How Does Vacuum Forming Work?

The step-by-step vacuum forming process works as follows:

  1. Clamp: A sheet of plastic is placed in an open frame and clamped into place.

  2. Heat: The plastic sheet is softened using a heat source until it reaches the appropriate forming temperature and becomes pliable.

  3. Vacuum: The framework containing the heated, pliable sheet of plastic is lowered over a mold and pulled into place via a vacuum on the other side of the mold. Female (or convex) molds need to have tiny holes drilled into crevices so that the vacuum can effectively pull the thermoplastic sheet into the appropriate form.

  4. Cool: Once the plastic has been formed around/into the mold, it needs to cool. For larger pieces, fans and/or cool mist are sometimes used to speed up this step in the production cycle.

  5. Release: After the plastic has cooled, it can be removed from the mold and released from the framework.

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  6. Trim: The completed part will need to be cut out of the excess material, and edges may need to be trimmed, sanded, or smoothed.

The Various Applications of Vacuum Forming

In modern society, it would be a challenge to get through an entire day without coming into contact with at least one part that has been made through vacuum forming. This manufacturing process is used to produce a wide variety of parts in a huge cross-section of industries, including:

Automotive and Transportation

Manufacturers use vacuum forming to create a number of pieces and parts in cars, buses, boats, and airplanes. In cars, everything from bumpers to floor mats, and even truck beds, are manufactured using vacuum forming.

Vacuum forming allows car companies to produce various color and detail options for consumers and gives designers the freedom to test out new prototypes in the development process.


Manufacturers also use vacuum forming to produce many industrial crates and contoured containers for machinery.

Vacuum forming is a great manufacturing process for parts primarily used outside or ones that may come in contact with a heat source because industrial manufacturers can use a variety of flame-retardant and UV-resistant materials. For example, fire-retardant UL 94 V-0 polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and UV filtering acrylic (PMMA) can both be vacuum formed.

Packaging and Displays

If you buy a product that comes in plastic that’s fitted to that product’s design, there’s a good chance the packaging was made through vacuum forming. Razors, toothbrushes, electronics, makeup, and cleaning products often come in packaging that was vacuum formed.

Food Packaging

Vacuum forming is often used for food packaging because it is compatible with food-grade plastic and can produce parts that are easy to sanitize.

Aoqite Automation has accumulated a lot of experience in manufacture of vacuum forming machine.

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