The terms vacuum forming and thermoforming are usually interchangeable, however thermoforming is a more generic term and refers to a range of fabrication processing where a plastic sheet has been heated to its ‘plastic’ malleable state and then shaped using a mould. The forming (pushing the plastic on to the mould) can be via vacuum or air pressure.
A male or female mould can be used. A male mould is the same shape as the object being formed, and the plastic sheet would be placed over it. A female mould forms the exterior of a shape and is the reverse of the object being made.
Once the plastic has cooled it will be permanently in the shape of the mould unless it is heated to a high temperature again.
Thermoforming can include pressure forming, vacuum forming and twin sheet forming.
Vacuum forming is a type of thermoforming. The plastic is heated to it’s plastic, soft, malleable shape and placed over a mould. Then the air is vacuumed out, sucking the plastic onto the mould. Then the plastic is cooled back to a solid state, forming the new shape. The air can then be blown back to free the plastic from its mould.
Here are some examples of vacuum forming.
Join the Newsletter
Receive updates from Bray Plastics