Five advantages of vacuum forming

Vacuum moulding has revolutionised many manufacturing processes. The ability to heat a plastic sheet, and use a vacuum to force it into a mould, means that the old method of making parts in different moulds and sealing them together has in in most cases been superseded.

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Here are the top five reasons that vacuum moulding is now so widely used.

1. Precision

Vacuum moulding allows a precise match with a design specification. This is especially useful if two parts need to fit accurately together.

2. Brilliant for prototyping

Vacuum forming allows designers to try out new designs – the low cost and rapid processing mean that the cycle of designing, producing, testing, adjusting and producing again, can be repeated as often as need be. So it’s possible to take a product from outline design to optimal specification in a very short time.

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Once the design is finalised, it’s easy to automate a vacuum moulding process, producing large quantities of goods at low cost.

3. Economy

Tooling up for a production run can be an expensive business. This often makes short runs of specialised products uneconomic. But the tooling up for vacuum moulding costs much less, meaning the technique can be used for shorter runs. The process itself uses low pressure so that both the tools used and the materials employed in the mould-making need not be expensive.

What’s more, excess material and offcuts can be fed back into the production process, so there is little waste.

4. Great scope for designs

Any modern supermarket is a showcase for hundreds of different packaging designs for food and drink products. Because the technique allows printed logos and limitless colours, it’s ideal for branded packaging.

5. Time to market greatly reduced

The lag between a product design being finalised, and the product sitting on a shelf, is an expensive one. Until the consumer buys the product, money is tied up in the design work and other stages of the product development. With vacuum moulding, the time to market is much shorter, meaning that the return on the investment in the product is achieved more rapidly. Once the cash has been recouped, more designs can be developed.

This allows agile manufacturers to take advantage of market opportunities or of markets that change quickly.

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