What’s the point of Vacuum Forming?

The world would be a very difficult place to store things if it weren’t for the simple act of Vacuum Forming. All that Vacuum forming is, is just another way of thermoforming but a in a much easier version. Ok, I probably haven’t told you very much in those first two sentences but bear with me as this is hardly the most scintillating subject but it is a very important one. The reason it is important is if it’s not done properly then you’ll not have anywhere for the supermarket meat and fresh fish products to be stored to stay untainted and odour free. Not only that if you’ve ever looked out of an airplane cockpit then you have this process to thank for it. We can have a look at the process a bit more now.

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Plastic is wonderful stuff as a construction material. It is made up of polymers and the best thing about them is that when you heat up certain types of plastic they become very bendy, or malleable to give it it’s fancy word term, and they can be bent and formed into pretty much any shape that you‘d like, as long as you have your press or mold right. Plastic comes in large sheets that are heated or melted until they reach that malleable and they can either be poured into a mould or spread over a press.

The trick of getting the plastic sheet over the mould and then forcing it down on to it to form the shape you want is where the vacuum part comes in. The sheet of plastic is heated to the malleable stage and then stretched over the shape. As the air is removed from the stretching machine it forces itself down on the mould. As soon as this happens the cool air is pumped back in and the plastic starts to cool. It goes rock hard again in the shape of the mould and it is then prised off the mould and cut to the required shape.

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You can make lots of different items in this way cheaply a quickly. One of the most common is trays for meat and microwave meals. There are much larger examples. When you see a kiosk in a supermarket that is usually made through the process but there are fun uses to for making the chassis for remote control cars or some very accurate masks.