Ideal for Cost-Effective, Quick-Turnaround “Utility” Parts

vacuum formed plastic part

Vacuum forming is the most basic of the thermoforming processes, and can be ideal when you need durable plastic parts that don’t require sharp non-tool side features. Vacuum forming is frequently used for cosmetic covers that require a smooth or gloss finish, or those that do not require a precise texture. Advantages to this process include:

  • Low-cost tooling
  • Quick turnaround for parts
  • Easy tool modification, if necessary
  • Wide variety of available materials, colors, and textures

Vacuum Forming Works Best If You Need…

Recognize your needs in any of the following? This could be your solution:

Quick turnaround

For the right application, vacuum forming is a great option for compressed lead times.

Lower cost tooling and prototyping

Vacuum forming can be highly cost-effective for developing tools and prototyping parts. Also, the reasonable tooling costs allow for modifications without excessive expense.

Covers, panels, enclosures, or internal components without sharply defined edges

Parts with simpler designs are great candidates for this process.

High-gloss or clear plastic parts

Using the vacuum process is ideal for high-gloss or clear plastic parts.

Vacuum formed plastic machine component
Vacuum Formed plastic part examples

Precision forming on only one side

In the vacuum forming process, only one side of the part touches the tool, making it ideal for distortion forming or clear parts.

Specific surface textures and printed features

The nature of the this process makes it effective for including printed features and creating a variety of surface textures.

Volumes in the hundreds or thousands

For moderate volumes, vacuum forming is much more cost-effective than other manufacturing options such as injection molding.

Simple, large cosmetic parts

Plastic vacuum forming can achieve the sweet spot for cost-effective, non-intricate plastic parts that also need to be attractive.

Fit and function over cosmetics

For durable, cost-effective plastic parts with little or no aesthetic purpose, vacuum forming can also be an ideal option.

Durability and industry-compliance

Material options are extremely versatile and can meet a wide range of performance demands and industry requirements.

Lightweight parts

Thermoform plastic material is considerably lighter than steel, aluminum, and fiberglass yet can still meet demanding specifications.
Cosmetic cover manufactured using vacuum forming        ing

Understanding the Vacuum Forming Process

How vacuum forming works

Vacuum forming involves heating a single sheet of extruded thermoplastic to a softening point and then applying a vacuum force (14.7 psig) to pull the sheet over a positive tool or into a negative tool.

In fact, in terms of complexity, vacuum forming is the most basic of the three thermoforming processes, which is why it can work especially well for projects where low-cost tooling, design flexibility, and/or shorter lead times are high priorities.

Also, since the cosmetic side of the part is on the non-tool surface of the sheet, a wide variety of surface textures or printed features are possible.
Profile Plastics, Inc. Logo

How Customers Benefit from 60+ Years of Vacuum Forming Experience

Although vacuum forming is considered the simplest of the thermoforming processes, Profile Plastics has the technology and the expertise to do more with it. For example, our molding techniques and sophisticated process control enable us to achieve greater part consistency.

Moreover, we use this well-established and cost-effective process to produce the kinds of highly cosmetic vacuum formed parts that others can’t.

Interested in working with us on a project?