Vacuum Forming

Vacuum forming used to produce fork truck component

Vacuum Forming, Custom Vacuum Thermoforming

Productive Plastics is a leading provider of custom plastics vacuum forming services. Productive Plastics can provide product design and manufacturing engineering assistance in conjunction with vacuum forming contract manufacturing. Productive Plastics is ISO 9001:2008 registered, with many years of plastics experience and extensive technical expertise.

Typical Applications for Vacuum Forming

Vacuum thermoformed parts are used to replace fabricated sheet metal components with complex shapes requiring excessive welding, grinding and finishing operations. Custom vacuum thermoformed parts compete very favorably against FRP (fiber-reinforced plastics) and RTM (resin transfer molded) parts in moderate (250 – 3000) annual production volumes.

Productive Plastics currently uses vacuum forming to make plastic components such as:

  • Lift truck enclosures
  • Enclosures for medical diagnostic equipment
  • Railcar interior trim parts and seating components
  • Engine covers for construction equipment
  • Fascias for outdoor kiosks and ATM applications

What is vacuum thermoforming?

1 min video demo of the heavy gauge vacuum thermoforming process

Why Use Vacuum Forming?

Vacuum thermoforming has advantages over other plastic production methods.

Here are some potential advantages that would make vacuum forming a good choice for your plastic part:

  • Large parts or multi-part uses
  • Moderate annual volumes
  • Tight tooling budget
  • Rapid product development

Vacuum forming in action at Productive Plastics

Vacuum Forming Technology

Vacuum thermoforming is a plastic manufacturing process in which a 2 dimensional thermoplastic sheet is heated to a forming optimal temperature and, using vacuum and pressure, is formed into a 3 dimensional part.

Productive Plastics’ Vacuum Forming Services/Capabilities

A wide range of vacuum forming technical capabilities are available based on the equipment used, materials used, and desired product properties.

Productive Plastics uses state-of-the-art equipment, including the following machines:

  • 60″ x 72″ single station vacuum, pressure and twin sheet former
  • 48″ x 96″ single station vacuum, pressure and twin sheet former
  • 48″ x 72″ four station rotary vacuum, pressure and twin sheet former
  • 84″ x 108″ four station rotary vacuum, pressure and twin sheet former

All machines a capable of vacuum forming, pressure forming and twin-sheet forming.

Vacuum forming used to make passenger rail car seat back

Materials Commonly Used in Vacuum Forming

  • ABS – Broad spectrum of resins used across a number of applications. Can be formulated to meet UL flammability standards.
  • PC/ABS – Alloy delivers UL approval in addition to high impact performance.
  • HDPE – Cost effective material for industrial applications requiring high impact strength.
  • TPO – High impact material delivering performance in cold and high heat applications.
  • HIPS – Low cost resin used in many POP applications requiring excellent forming characteristics.
  • PVC/Acrylic – Widely used resin in micro-processor based equipment housings. Meets most stringent UL standards for flammability and can be made in wide range of colors and textures.

Terminology Note

Productive Plastics and the plastics industry typically use the terms “vacuum forming” and “vacuum thermoforming” interchangeably. Sometimes “vacuumforming” and “vacuumthermoforming” are also used.

Contact Productive Plastics for Vacuum Thermoforming Services

Please Contact Productive Plastics, one of the most innovative vacuum forming companies, for assistance or to get a quote for vacuum forming.

Request a free Heavy Gauge Plastic Thermoforming Process and Design Guide from Productive Plastics.


  Productive Plastics is one of the Productive Companies, that also includes Sensigraphics and Productive Industrial Finishing.