Workshop 1: Introduction to Vac forming

Vac forming creates the objects we use everyday, which can range from packaging to hard hats used in health and safety. This technique without me realising prior to the induction, plays a major part in our lives.

The process happens by heating up a piece of plastic to a forming temperature and then placed onto a mold which is then given its shape by being forced on to the mold, after the material should be allowed to cool and this will fix its new shape. Afterwards finishing, cutting or drilling is applied.

Types of material used in vac forming –

polystyrene, polypropylene, polyethylene, acrylic.

Pro’s of Vacuum forming –

  • cheap, versatile, flexible.
  • clean process
  • good for prototyping
  • pre coloured sheets can be used

Con’s of vacuum forming –

  • Some shapes cannot be vacuum formed because of the ‘draw ratio’ in certain spots.
  • thickness variation not possible
  • only thermoplastic materials can be used


Vac Forming in art and design –

Jim Isermann, Untitled, 2009, vacuum-formed styrene wall, 40′ by 96′

Travis Rathbone – vacuum packed ice cream cone
In his project Skindeep, French photographer Julien Palast studies the body and the human form


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