Vacuum forming

Vacuum forming is a flexible process giving a three-dimensional shape to an extruded thermoplastic material. Our sophisticated halogen heating systems can process even the most challenging engineering materials with our state-of-the-art moulding machines.

Vacuum forming in action!

Here we are producing high-gloss exterior components using 100% recyclable material which doesn’t require painting. 

We have 16 state of the art Cannon and Geiss thermoforming machines and are proud to be the UK’s leading independent vacuum forming company.

What is Vacuum Forming?

Vacuum forming is a manufacturing process that involves heating a plastic sheet and then stretching it over a mould using a vacuum.

The vacuum removes the air between the sheet and the mould, causing the plastic to conform to the mould's shape. Once cooled, the plastic retains its formed shape, resulting in a three-dimensional object.

Vacuum forming is a versatile and cost-effective method for producing large quantities of lightweight, custom components.


Vacuum forming applications

  • Exterior roof modules and engine covers for construction machines
  • Full height front and rear caravan exterior panels
  • Interior shower trays and sunroof assemblies for motorhomes and caravans
  • Interior dashboards, door panels and bulkhead assemblies for commercial vehicles
  • Exterior bumper systems for speciality vehicle applications
  • Wheel arch liners and undertrays for automotive components
0077290722 B W Vacuum forming

Vacuum forming benefits


Vacuum forming is generally a more affordable option compared to other moulding techniques like injection moulding or blow moulding. It requires simpler moulds and equipment, reducing tooling costs.


This process can be used with a wide range of thermoplastic materials, providing flexibility in material selection. It allows for customisation of thickness, colour, and surface finishes.

Rapid production

Vacuum forming enables fast production cycles, making it suitable for high-volume manufacturing. The process involves heating and forming the plastic sheet in a relatively short time.

Design flexibility

It allows for the creation of complex shapes and intricate details. The moulds used in vacuum forming can be easily modified or replaced, making it adaptable for various product designs.


Vacuum-formed products tend to be lightweight due to the nature of the process and the use of thin plastic sheets. This makes them suitable for applications where weight reduction is desirable, such as in the automotive and aerospace industries.


Vacuum forming can produce transparent or translucent parts, which is advantageous for applications requiring visibility or light transmission, such as packaging or display cases.

Prototyping and low-volume production

Vacuum forming is well-suited for prototyping and low-volume production runs, as it allows for quick and cost-effective production of sample parts or small batches.

Vacuum forming materials

Vacuum forming is a versatile manufacturing process that can work with a variety of thermoplastic materials. Thermoplastics are a class of polymers that become pliable when heated and solidify when cooled, making them suitable for vacuum forming.

Some common thermoplastics used in vacuum forming include:


Polyethylene (PE)

Key Properties:

This is a widely used thermoplastic known for its low cost, flexibility, and ease of forming. It is often used for packaging, trays, and simple shapes.


Polypropylene (PP)

Key Properties:

PP offers good chemical resistance and is commonly used for food containers, automotive parts, and industrial components.


Acrylic – Perspex (PMMA)

Key Properties:

Hygroscopic Medium/strong Temperature-sensitive, can become brittle 0.3 – 0.8% shrinkage rate Prone to shattering but good to work manually and takes cellulose and enamel sprays Available in multiple colours, can be transparent or opaque


ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

Key Properties:

ABS is a tough and rigid thermoplastic, commonly used for automotive parts, consumer electronics, and toys.


PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

Key Properties:

PVC is known for its durability and chemical resistance. It is used in applications such as blister packaging, trays, and signs.


PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol):

Key Properties:

PETG offers high clarity and impact resistance, making it suitable for retail displays, medical packaging, and protective covers.


PC (Polycarbonate)

Key Properties:

PC is known for its excellent optical properties, impact resistance, and high-temperature resistance. It is used in applications such as safety equipment, electronic enclosures, and automotive components.


PMMA (Polymethyl Methacrylate)

Key Properties:

PMMA, also known as acrylic or Plexiglas, offers high clarity and weather resistance, making it suitable for signs, displays, and architectural applications.



Key Properties:

Kydex is a brand of thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride (PVC) alloy with enhanced rigidity and impact resistance. It is commonly used in aerospace, transportation, and medical equipment applications.

These are just a few examples of thermoplastics that can be vacuum formed. The choice of material depends on the specific requirements of the product, including mechanical properties, transparency, chemical resistance, and cost.

Get in touch

At Linecross we provide a complete ‘concept to production’ service from customised product development to assembly and sequenced supply. Find out more about how our range of processes can support your business.

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