Vacuum forming is a process of forming plastic into a hollow shape by means of heat and vacuum.
Vacuum forming allows us to create prototypes of a certain wall thickness out of production material like ABS or PETG. It is especially ideal for creating large parts from plastic before cutting a steel tool. Creating large samples with tooling board is much less expensive compared to aluminum or steel tools, providing the opportunity to test and refine parts before solidifying a final design. Prototype vacuum forming is faster than production time, allowing you to get a sample part sooner and condense timelines.
To create the pattern for the part, urethane tooling board or wood is cut into the specific size and shape by a CNC machine. With the pattern in place, a plastic material is heated until it becomes soft and cloth-like. The heated plastic is stretched over the pattern and a vacuum is used to pull the plastic tightly to the pattern. A variety of thermoplastics can be used to create the part, such as ABS, styrene or PETG. The thickness of the material is dependent on the geometry of the pattern. After the plastic part cools, it is removed from the pattern and finished. Parts can be finished by hand or trimmed by a 3 or 5-axis CNC machine for precise or complicated trim edges.
Small Machine: 18” x 18”
Medium Machine: 27” x 27”
Large Machine: 48” x 72”
For machine details, you can review our machine list and specifications.