Vacuum forming is a simplified version of thermoforming, a sheet of plastic is heated to a temperature where it can be formed. It’s then stretched over the plastic onto a surface mould and uses a vacuum to force it against the mould. Vacuum forming has endless uses, including packaging, signage, and automotive parts. With so many possibilities and uses, it is important to use the right material in the right scenario. Here are the most common plastics used in vacuum forming.
Polycarbonate is an extremely strong and durable material that can maintain rigidity up to 140ºC. PC is also resistant to UV radiation, chemicals and heat — some grades are able to pass some of the strictest fire tests. Because of the toughness of polycarbonate, within vacuum forming, it is often used in demanding environments that require high performance. Some common uses of polycarbonate include aircraft parts, medical devices and riot/safety shields.
ABS is a popular choice when it comes to vac forming, it’s known for its rigidity, high strength, and impact resistance and can also withstand chemical and UV exposure. ABS is a reasonably low-cost material and is the perfect plastic choice for outdoor applications given its resistance to weathering. The most common uses for ABS include automotive parts, electrical enclosures and within the engineering industry.
HIPS is one of the most common plastics used in vacuum forming. It’s a cost-effective material that is strong and durable whilst also being lightweight and easy to work with. Items made using HIPS are long-lasting and can come in different finishes. HIPS is also a material that is compliant in the food industry and the medical industry, making it a popular vacuum-forming choice.
There are a range of different plastics available to use in vacuum forming, these are just some of the most common. And the truth is, to answer the question of which plastic is best for your project, it comes down to your specific requirements! Each plastic we use here at Plas-Tech has its own benefits and each plastic is suited for different environments and applications.
Luckily, at Plas Tech Thermoforming, we have a large team of experts to help you choose the perfect plastic for your project. Simply get in touch with our team who will be able to support you with everything from developing ideas, creating the design, and rapid prototyping to the actual making and delivering of your final parts.