What Plastic is Used for Vacuum Forming?

What plastics are used for vacuum forming? Well, there are several varieties of plastic used for vacuum forming. Check out this article for further details.

Vacuum forming is a process of preparing the usual flat plastic sheet into a three-dimensional shape. Typically, the thermal heating technique is used in vacuum forming. Vacuum forming is very important for a lot of industries. Especially, vacuum forming helps a lot in the process of food packaging, medical device storage, automobiles, and a lot of other industries.

There is a different variation of plastics used in vacuum forming. However, that doesn’t mean that you can use any variation of the plastic for vacuum forming. Below we will let you know about the plastics that can be used for vacuum forming as well as the ones that cannot be used.

What is Vacuum Forming?

Before we begin, let’s know a bit more about the vacuum forming process. In case you don’t know, vacuum forming is the oldest and most common process of processing plastic materials. It is vastly used around the globe for a variety of works and the importance of vacuum forming is undeniable in our day to day lives. Vacuum forming can be considered as a simplified version of thermoforming. In this process, the sheet of plastics is heated to reach a certain forming temperature.

Then when they become hot, they are stretched to a surface mold and then forced against the mold by making use of the vacuum. The procedure of vacuum forming is mainly used for giving permanent shapes to plastic. As the protective covers, molded storage of electronics and other devices, turnpike signs, etc. are made through the vacuum forming process. Typically, there are draft angles present in the design of the mold which help it to be removed from the plastic that gives the mold.

There is a different variation of the materials used in the vacuum forming. However, the most suitable material for vacuum forming is mainly thermoplastics. As an example, we can talk about high-impact polystyrene sheets (HIPS). There are different things that are used around the mold that include structural foam, cast, wood, and sometimes machined molds.

The HIPS is mainly used as it is a high-impact material and hygienic. Moreover, it is capable of retaining heat as well as the shape when you apply warm water. This is used in several variations of the packaging materials as well as in odor-sensitive products.

What Plastic is Used for Vacuum Forming?

As we discussed prior, a lot of different varieties of plastic are used in the vacuum forming method. Most of them are thermoplastics because of the advantage it offers. It can be repeatedly heated and cooled as needed and it can revert to the original shape. For these benefits, thermoplastics are mostly used in the vacuum forming method. There are also different variations of thermoplastics. Below, we will let you know some of the thermoplastics that are used in vacuum forming.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

The Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene is one of the popular materials when it comes to thermoplastic. It is a hard and rigid thermoplastic that arrives with excellent weather resistance and impact resistance. It is often used in places where strength and formability are important. This material is available in different colors.

Polystyrene– Polyphenylethene

Polystyrene– Polyphenylethene is another variation of thermoplastic that is available at a low cost. Besides, it is obtainable in different textures and colors. One issue about the material is it is not suitable for long-term uses. As a result, it is mainly used for temporary purposes.

Acrylic – PMMA

The Acrylic – PMMA is a high-quality thermoplastic and also arrives at a higher expense. The Acrylic – PMMA is used in many products and provides a medium to high-level strength. However, it is not much temperature resistant. The Acrylic – PMMA is also obtainable at different finishes and colors.


The co-polyester is a thermoplastic that is very easy to use in the vacuum forming process. It is an important material as it is appropriate for foods. It has decent fabricating performance and also high impact strength when vacuum formed.

There are some other variations of the vacuum forming plastics which include polycarbonate, polyvinylchloride, etc. The polycarbonate is pretty strong and impact-resistant and also very costly. The polyvinylchloride is inexpensive and also transparent, making it a good choice for a variety of purposes.

The Application of Vacuum Forming

There is actually a lot of application of vacuum forming. It is used in several businesses including agriculture, automotive, packaging, household items, etc., and much more. When it comes to the agricultural industry, vacuum forming is used to make plastic components for both transportations of vehicles as well as for heavy machinery. As they need to be used in the outdoor situation for a long time, they need to be weather-resistant, tough, and durable. The vacuum forming is done following these criteria.

Another common use of vacuum forming is in the automotive industry. A lot of things inside your car are prepared through vacuum forming. Some of these things include the dashboard, door panel, seat, and other plastic parts of the car. Then there is the packaging industry. Plastic is a popular packaging material because of its cost-effectiveness, hygiene, durability, etc. One of the interesting benefits of plastic is it can be easily tailored to accommodate things safely.

You will see uses of plastic molded packages for foods, medical supplies, and a lot of other places. Plastic items prepared through vacuum forming are even used in the household. As an example, we can talk about the bathtub, utensils, kitchen, and garden items. There are some other industries that also use plastic molding for their work.


As you see, there are different variations of thermoplastics used for vacuum forming. Typically, the right variation is picked based on the uses and required characteristics.

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