Vacuum Thermoforming Manufacturing

Is Vacuum Thermoforming Right For You?

vacuumform1.jpgVacuum Thermoforming is a process for producing custom plastic parts or packaging. This process offers low cost tooling with faster lead-times than that of other processes. Vacuum forming is performed by taking a flat, extruded sheet of plastic, heating it in an oven until the material is pliable. The material is then draped over a mold and a vacuum is applied drawing the material tightly against the mold. When cooled, the part retains the shape of the mold and is then trimmed to size. The trimming process can be as simple as die cutting or as complex as numerous CNC or laser cuts to attain the necessary shape required. Our molds can be made of wood, aluminum filled epoxy, composite or aluminum, depending on the volume of parts needed by the customer and the cosmetic appearance desired. This process is assuming an ever increasing importance in the plastic industry for prototyping and fast turnaround test pieces. Today in many instances vacuum forming can offer a comparable alternative to:

  • Injection Molding
  • Metal Stamping
  • Machine Fabrications
  • Paper & Wood Products and etc.

Materials offered for vacuum forming assume many different properties and appearances, such as:


most colors including clear, and translucent
smooth, dull, high gloss, mirrored, grained, etc.
flexible, rigid, brittle, soft, high impact
heat, cold, chemical, fire, static resistances
plastic does not rust, stain, or scratch like other materials

Commonly used Matierials:

The plastics that we commonly use are called "Thermoplastics", these resins are designed to allow them to be extruded in sheet form and then formed into a new shape if needed. Most of the plastics we commonly use can be purchased in various gauges or thicknesses. The thinnest our vacuum formers can use is .010" and the thickest is .375" in gauge . Our equipment is designed to efficiently vacuum form a wide variety of thermoplastics such as:

ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) A moderately inexpensive resin that is easy to form. It has great impact strength and comes in many colors and textures.

HIPS (high impact polystyrene) A low cost, easy forming material that come in many colors and textures. Can not be used in the cold and can rip and tear if stressed

HDPE (high density polyethylene) An extremely durable material that is not effected by grease, oils, alcohols and even gasoline. It has a high shrinkage rate during forming and can be prone to warping. Many milk gallon containers are produced from this resin, because of its low cost and cold strength properties. Can be purchased in a wide range of colors and textures from the extruder.

PETG (polyester terrathiolate glycol ?) Other similar resins are PET, APET & RPET. This is the material commonly used in soda bottles and can be purchased clear or in varied colors. It is somewhat inert and for that reason is commonly used in the optics and food industry..

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) This material forms great and has great impact strength as well. Not to be used around food, but it is difficult to catch on fire. It is not widly used as much now because it can offer health problems if it is burned.

Kydex (acrylic & PVC blend) One of the best forming materials for component parts, because it is extremely durable and is hard to ignite on fire. Comes in a wide range of colors, textures and blends for many different applications.

Lexan (polycarbonate) One of the most durable clear materials available. It has a high heat deflection which allows it to be used in many areas where temperatures over 150 degree farenheit are common. Can be purchased clear or in varied colors.

Polypropylene (homo polymer and HDPE blends) Another very durable plastic that can handle huge amounts of heat and retain it's shape. This material is also quite inert and is not affectedby much of anything, from oils to many acids. It has a high vacuum forming shrinkage rate which leads it to some degrees of warping. Commonly used inmargarine containers and cutting boards.

Noryl (polphenylene oxide) This is a durable high temperature type resin as well. Used in the industry for component parts that are close to a heat source. The resin is somewhat expensive an not as commonly use today.

We Can Help With Planning & Design

Vacuum forming is a process who's potential is not yet being fully utilized. We at PLAZ-X, with our particular expertise, can make vacuum thermoforming a competitive alternative to other manufacturing processes.

vacuumform3.jpgShow us your new or established products that you would like us to review. We will examine them to see if one of our manufacturing processes would be cost effective. In many instances we can offer savings by reducing:

  • Tooling costs
  • Product costs
  • Lead-time requirements
  • Specialized run expenses
  • Need for painting costs

Vacuum forming can be used for projects like:
product packaging
Optics packs and containers
Totes, guards, housing and other machine part applications
medical applications

We work with you in developing a part or adapting your product design to accomodate our process. Prototypes can even be produced, without destroying your budget.


SINGLE STATION: handling up to a 30" x 36" blank

The single station former is designed for small low volume, thick and thin gauge applications where setup can be performed quickly.
ROTARY THREE STATION: handling up to a 36" x 48" blank
The rotary former is designed to handle larger parts and form at significantly greater speeds.

View Vacuum Forming Gallery (Click thumbnail)


View Video

Coming Soon!