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Vacuum Forming

Vacuum forming, commonly known by people as vacuuforming, is a simplified version of thermoforming, whereby a sheet of plastic is heated to a forming temperature, stretched onto or into a single-surface mould (BrE, mould), and held against the mould by applying vacuum between the mould surface and the sheet.

Vacuum forming is usually – but not always – restricted to forming plastic parts that are rather shallow in depth. A thin sheet is formed into rigid cavities for unit doses of pharmaceuticals and for loose objects that are carded or presented as point-of-purchase items. Thick sheet is formed into permanent objects such as turnpike signs and protective covers.

Relatively deep parts can be formed if the form-able sheet is mechanically or pneumatically stretched prior to bringing it in contact with the mould surface and before vacuum is applied. Suitable materials for use in vacuum forming are conventionally thermoplastics, the most common and easiest being High Impact Polystyrene Sheeting (HIPS). This is moulded around a wood, structural foam or cast/machined aluminum mould and can form to almost any shape.


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