Applications of the Vacuum Forming Process

Many plastic products that you are likely to encounter in your day to day life will have been made via the vacuum forming process. This simple plastic fabrication technique comes hand-in-hand with a number of advantages, with it being a fast and cost-effective solution. It also offers endless possibilities, and, as a result, has become an increasingly popular technique in a wide range of industries and sectors. It is safe to say that vacuum forming is here to stay!

In this blog, we explore some of the main industries that take advantage of vacuum forming plastic and explain exactly how we – here at Talbot Designs – fall into the equation.

Vacuum Forming Process

What can vacuum forming be used to make?

1) Agricultural components

Within the agricultural industry, the process of vacuum forming is regularly used to create plastic components for both transportation vehicles and heavy-duty machinery. Such vehicles and machinery are usually intended for long-term outdoor use; they need to be tough, durable, and weather-resistant and, by meeting these criteria, vacuum formed parts are the perfect solution.

2) Automotive parts

Vacuum formed plastics are frequently employed within the automotive industry, both for aesthetic and functional purposes. Take a look inside a car and everything from the dashboard to the door panels will have been created via the process of vacuum thermoforming.

It is also used to produce parts for vans, lorries, buses, boats and even aeroplanes. These parts are lightweight and cost-effective, and thanks to their wide range of finishes, they can be tailored to fit the style of any vehicle.

3) Packaging

The plastics that are used are also ideal for packaging purposes. Not only are they cost-effective enough for large production lines, but they are also durable, hygienic, and they offer a diverse range of options when it comes to size and shape.

From the food and drink packaging that is seen lining the supermarket shelves to the containers that are used for medical supplies, cleaning products, health and beauty products and more, they are all likely to have been made via a vacuum forming process.

4) Household items

Numerous household items are made from vacuum forming plastic. Think about your own home; the plastic bathtub in your bathroom, the plastic utensils, and appliances that can be found in your kitchen, the garden equipment that is stored in the shed. These are all common products found in the home environment, things that are used on a day-to-day basis, created via the vacuum forming process.

5) Retail and marketing displays

In recent years, vacuum forming has also started to be used for creative purposes, particularly within the retail and marketing industry. Such is their potential beauty and eye catching ability, it is little wonder why vacuum forming plastic has become a popular way of creating those incredible displays you see when out and about! This specialist fabrication process offers an endless array of possibilities and, taking advantage of this fact, retailers are now using the process to create promotional displays – displays that are unique, innovative, and intended to catch their customer’s attention. And let’s be honest, that’s the main point of a marketing display, isn’t it?

6) Signage

You may have a stellar promotional display lined up, but if no one knows the name of your business or event, then what’s the point in utilising such an excellent design? In the past, we have seen many businesses utilise vacuum forming to create unique and stand out signage for their company. In a much similar way to the benefits they bring to promotional displays, you’re able to advertise your business in many unique ways. Whether this is on a shop front, the entrance to your facilities or anywhere else, by using this way of acrylic plastic customisation, you can take advantage of plastic in all kinds of ways, using a combination of colours and styles to create your ideal look.

Vacuum formed products created by Talbot Designs

Here at Talbot Designs, we have over 70 years of experience in the plastic fabrication industry and – during this time – the key to our success has been our passionate and dedicated approach.

Our years of industry knowledge allow us to create the biggest and best plastic fabrication projects around, as we always strive to push the boundaries of vacuum forming to products never seen before.

Our recent projects have involved making pop-up shop displays and promotional displays; however, we believe the potential of vacuum forming is ‘limited only by imagination’. We are innovative by nature, we like to push the boundaries, and we always welcome a new challenge. Whatever vacuum forming process you have in mind, whether that be a high-quantity moulded to shape or a one-off complex design, our experts will do everything in their power to make that product a reality.

If you would like to find out more about the vacuum forming process we currently offer or if you would like to discuss a potential new vacuum formed product, please feel free to get in touch. Contact us today on 020 8346 8515 or via Alternatively, send us a quick enquiry using the online form provided.


How does vacuum forming work?

Vacuum forming may sound like a complicated process to those that are unaware of how it works. However, it helps to think of it as just a method of transformation – a way of turning a plastic sheet into a multi-dimensional item or product. Now it sounds a lot simpler and creative, right?

The vacuum forming process can be broken down into three simple steps. Firstly, a sheet of plastic is heated until it becomes soft and pliable and then draped over a mould of your required shape. This mould can be almost any shape you can possibly think of, which is why the vacuum forming process is thought of as being versatile and accessible. Secondly, a low-pressure vacuum is applied, sucking in the plastic and forcing it against the mould. Finally, the plastic is cooled and set in place, this is to harden the plastic and set it back to its previous durable levels of performance. It is subsequently trimmed to create the desired shape. Most thermoplastics can be utilised in this process and a diverse range of products can be made, including some of the finest acrylic designs.

What are the main advantages of vacuum forming?

One of the main advantages of the vacuum forming process is its cost-effectiveness, making it a truly accessible option for those that want to customise their plastic display. Compared to other plastic fabrication techniques, large quantities of a product can be made in a short period of time and relatively inexpensive materials – such as acrylic, polyethylene, and polycarbonate – are typically used. As you can tell, this is a popular option that customers look to utilise here at Talbot Designs. Many of our orders can be completed in large quantities and quickly, without ever compromising on quality as a result. It’s this value for money that makes us the number 1 choice when it comes to vacuum forming your plastic solutions.

Equipment costs are also substantially less; yet, despite these savings, the products created are high-quality, durable, weather-resistant and still look great.

A further advantage of vacuum forming is the endless possibilities that it provides, as highlighted in our dedicated blog post. It doesn’t matter what size or shape of the item you have in mind. Whether you need large quantities of a simple product or a one-off complex design, the chances are, it can be made via the vacuum forming process.

What type of plastics can be used for vacuum forming?

There are two main types of plastic; thermoset and thermoplastic, the latter being the softer material, which makes it the perfect application for vacuum forming.

Thermoplastics are divided into two separate groups – amorphous and crystalline. The first of the two is a much easier vacuum form, due to its flexible molecular structure. One of the most common amorphous thermoplastics used in vacuum forming is polystyrene, due to its ability to re-form easily under low temperatures. It is also an extremely fast and cost-efficient material to use. The main polystyrene applications include toys, displays and packaging.

Some crystalline and semi-crystalline materials are used in the vacuum forming process. For example, polyethylene, which is mostly used for vehicle parts and polypropylene for luggage and medical applications. During the vacuum forming process, it is vital that temperature control is expertly monitored to ensure it is formed correctly.

What bespoke customisations can be made with vacuum forming?

At Talbot Designs, our expert team can help you create bespoke designs. Our high-quality vacuum forming service enables customisation of logos, colours, undercuts and any additional cosmetic features you require. No matter your requirements, our experienced team of experts are on hand to meet your bespoke needs to a tee, providing an accurate result you’re pleased with on every occasion.

Our vacuum forming tools can create embossed text for logos, colour effects – including matte and mirror – and more coatings and finishes, which will improve the overall appearance of your product.

The thermoforming process provides expert attention to detail to ensure that your finished product features every detailed request, however big or small, which will be completed in line with your requirements.

For additional vacuum forming finishes, we can utilise our advanced CNC machinery, which is an excellent 3-D tooling system that will enhance the aesthetic of your product and enable it to stand out from the crowd.