Vacuum Former

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Nichols Model 10-B Therm-O-Vac Vacuum Former
Technical Specifications
Manufacturer Industrial Arts Supply Co.
Frame size 14" x 20" (approx. 356mm x 508mm)
Material thickness 0.2" to 0.6" (approx. 0.5mm to 1.5mm)
Operation Single 3-way switch

What is Vacuum Forming?

Vacuum forming is a thermoforming manufacturing method used to shape plastic.

  • A mold is placed on a surface that contains many small holes
  • A sheet of plastic is clamped in a frame and heated until soft
  • The hot plastic is pulled over the mold, and a vacuum sucks through the small holes and forms the plastic over the mold
  • The result is a plastic impression of the mold’s contour

Vacuum forming can be used to mass produce functional items such as plastic packaging, and for creative works such as resin molds and costume pieces.

Vacuum Forming Guide for the Classroom

Video of the Nichols Model 10-B in use.

Access & Use

Access policy not yet established


The default frame size of the Nichols Model 10-B is 14" x 20", and thermoplastic material will need to be this exact size.

There are plans to create removeable frame inserts to allow for smaller, more standard sizes of material. This will reduce plastic waste and also increase the vacuum power.

Recommended material thickness is 0.02” to 0.06”(approx. 0.5mm to 1.5mm). Most types of thermoplastic will work, but these types are recommended:

Plastic type 0.5mm heating time 1mm heating time 1.5mm heating time
HIPS (high impact polystyrene) 15 seconds 30 seconds 45 seconds
PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol) 15 seconds 30 seconds 45 seconds
ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) 20 seconds 40 seconds 60 seconds

Heating times are approximate.

LDPE (low density polyethylene) is not recommended as the machine cannot heat the plastic hot enough to mold.

Mold Design

This section will contain information about creating molds, mold materials to use, and design best practices,