Vacuum formed products, according to Plastipedia, are all around us, playing an instrumental part in our lives. The process involves heating a sheet of plastic, which is stretched and vacuumed onto a mold, in order to produce a three-dimensional shape. It is used by a wide variety of industries, including food, cosmetics, and electronics. The "Plastic Ingenuity" website states that the use is largely restricted to plastic parts that are shallow in depth or for which the thickness of the walls is not critical. Vacuum forming has a number of benefits.
Vacuum formed products are more precise to design specifications, compared with those produced by molding together multiple parts. This is particularly important for parts required to support or fit into another object. Imagine how irritating it would be if your iPod was too big for its stand, for example. Vacuum forming minimizes error during the production process, reducing the likelihood of recalling stock and the related costs.
According to Plastipedia, one benefit of vacuum forming is its “comparatively low cost tooling.” Because it uses low pressures, it requires a smaller quantity of less sophisticated tools, which also means that molds can be produced from relatively inexpensive materials. A second benefit is that large parts can be produced from one sheet of plastic, reducing quantity costs. Additionally, discards from finished products can be recycled into new plastic sheets. Low start-up costs make vacuum forming attractive for small production lines or businesses.
By using molds, vacuum forming enables products to realize the design aesthetics of a company or designer. This is important in a market economy dominated by company logos and branding. Vacuum forming also fulfills practical design requirements. It is a popular process of production within the packaging industry, used to produce anything from yogurt pots to the inserts in convenience food packages.
Since time is money, vacuum forming is often an economical choice of production. With its simple production process, less time is spent between the design and outcome of the product. Not only does this liberate time to focus on the more intricate details, but products are also introduced into the market much quicker. Additionally, sophisticated versions of vacuum forming facilitate automated production, thus generating a larger quantity of products in less time.
Based in London, Ann Duncan has been writing online since October 2009. Her monthly articles in entertainment, culture and politics are published on PonderBoxes, a social-commentary blog. She has a Bachelor of Science (with honors) in sociology from the London School of Economics and Political Science.