Vacuum forming is a simple way of shaping plastic into a dimensional part. It's a process of taking sheet plastic, heating it up to a pliable state, then stretching it over a hard mold while still hot. Air is then sucked out of the voids around the mold to pull the plastic tightly around the shape. It cools quickly, the mold removed and the result is a plastic shape ready to be used.


Looks Like

The Vacuum Former might loosely resemble the unit below, but there are many variations for different purposes, sizes and materials. The unit below is a home build DIY design based on the Hobby-Vac, a simple machine that balances both performance and cost.

This is a flip or slide rack version where the plastic is flipped or slid over the heating elements then returned to the forming platen when the plastic is hot enough to mold.





Vacuum Forming has a broad spectrum of uses that vary from movie props to dental applications, from candy molds to dimensional signs. In fact you may interact with vacuum molded items every day. It could take the form of packaging or a travel pod on the roof of a car. Remote control car bodies and Halloween costumes are other popular uses. Below are just a handful of examples that show different applications, materials and finishes.