Plastic is one of the most commonly used materials in the manufacturing world owing to its ability to take on different shapes by being heated until it becomes soft and pliable. Different techniques are then used to form the plastic—that is, to turn the plastic into a mould. One of the most common methods of manufacturing plastic parts or products is vacuum forming.
Vacuum forming involves using a vacuum to pull or push softened plastic into a form or mould. This plastic manufacturing process is used to make a wide range of plastic products that you see around you every day, including yoghurt pots, sandwich boxes, shower trays, bottle trays, plastic containers, electrical and cable enclosures, plastic pallets and more.
Vacuum forming delivers a number of processing advantages over alternative plastic forming processes. These advantages include the following:
One of the things that most of today's plastic manufacturers are keen on minimising is the cost of production. The use of cheap wooden moulds owing to the low forming pressures required to make plastic products leads to relatively more cost-effective tooling. Mould fabrication time for the vacuum forming process is also comparatively short, thus leading to even more cost savings.
Thanks to its greater adaptability, the vacuum forming process meets practical design requirements of various plastic products better than other forming processes. If a part or product needs to be modified, the change can be tailored to the mould without costing too much. This is because vacuum forming typically involves the use of wooden moulds, which can be easily and inexpensively made.
The use of extruded plastic sheets instead of raw plastic material makes vacuum forming a faster manufacturing technique compared to other forming processes—the entire manufacturing process takes less time from start to finish. The liberated time can be used to pay extra attention to the more complex details of the design and production process. What's more, the more advanced versions of vacuum forming allow automation of the manufacturing process, hence larger volumes of finished parts can be produced in less time.
Like other plastic moulding processes, vacuum forming has its shortcomings. But these shortcomings don't outweigh the great advantages that this forming process brings. If you want to find out more about vacuum forming, contact a plastic moulding specialist like Vacmould Displays. They will tell you everything you need to know about this plastic manufacturing process.