Vacuum formed packaging insert trays
Improve your parts handling using vac-formed trays
Vacuum formed trays are perfect for enhancing your totes or handling containers – offering improved protection for your parts or components and aiding efficiency and productivity.
Ideal for manufacturing industries, vacuum formed packaging inserts can be fully tailored to your specific requirements. This aids handling, part retrieval, and eliminates movement of components within the container to reduce damage. They are also ideal for clean rooms and applications that require ESD protection. Read More
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More info on vacuum formed trays and inserts
Perfect for use either as a standalone handling item or (more commonly) within an outer tote box or container, there are several ways in which vacuum formed trays can improve your handling efficiency and productivity.
Firstly, vac-forme packaging inserts are incredibly light in weight, meaning they are safe and easy to handle.
They can also be layered within a tote, increasing the number of parts moved per trip and improving your staff productivity. Unlike Correx® dividers, they can also be easily removed from the totes whilst maintaining their shape and retaining their contents.
The nature of their design means they can often “nest” when not in use – saving storage space and allowing for more efficient return transit.
And whilst sampling and tooling costs are higher than comparable foam dunnage or plastic division sets, their low unit costs also make vacuum formed trays ideal for higher volume requirements.
However, their main advantage over foam inserts is that they do not suffer from “shedding” of dust or fibres, which can contaminate parts or components. These properties make them ideal for clean room applications too.
A final benefit in terms of protection (and reusability) is that vac-formed trays, being manufactured from plastic, are resistant to water and most chemicals and are easily cleaned.
Similarly, if you have a product which – if broken or faulty – could leak fluid such as oil, the plastic tray contains this in the specific recess. Containing spills or leaks prevents contamination across other parts in the same container.
Bespoke vac formed trays
While it is possible to source vacuum formed trays with standard pockets and recesses (as per kitting trays), the real benefits of using this type of plastic parts tray are through the range of customisation options available.
The shape of the recesses/pockets can be a very close fit to your specific part, product, or component. A good fit between your items and the tray offers additional protection by minimising movement during handling or transit.
Similarly, you can choose to alter the layout of any recesses within a custom plastic tray, allowing you to maximise the efficiency of your handling tote (effectively getting as many parts as possible within the outer container).
However, you can add other features, too.
Options include additional moulding of instructions or part numbers (something labelling can also achieve), and it is possible to create anti-static trays using ESD-safe material. Anti-static vacuum formed trays and packaging are an excellent solution for safely handling and storing electronics and work particularly well with GWP’s range of conductive products.
Key benefits of vacuum forming
- Lightweight for ease of handling.
- Minimise movement (and therefore damage) during handling.
- Can be tailored to your product or components for optimum fit.
- Retain shape and rigidity when removed from outer containers.
- Can also be layered in totes for further efficiency.
- Easy to clean, plus water, oil and grease resistant.
- Can mould in part numbers, instructions etc.
- Trays can fit standard totes or be manufactured to custom sizes.
- Thin material and ability to nest save space when not in use.
- ESD-safe (conductive) versions are available.
- Ideal for high volume requirements and protecting valuable parts.
Common questions about vacuum formed trays
Please see below for answers to commonly asked questions regarding vacuum formed trays and products.
However, if you can’t see the information you are looking for, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of the GWP team.
What are vacuum formed trays?
Vacuum formed trays are popular for material handling applications (i.e. moving parts or components around a factory or supply chain). The manufacture of trays involves heating plastic sheets and stretching them over a mould before being forced against it by a vacuum. Once cooled and removed from the mould, they are suitable for use as a container insert or as a standalone custom-made tray.
What is the difference between vacuum forming and thermoforming?
Vacuum forming and thermoforming are effectively the same processes, heating plastic to a malleable temperature before forming it to a specific shape. The difference in vac-forming, however, is the additional process of using a vacuum to force the plastic material to conform to the mould.
What plastic is used for vacuum forming?
Manufacturers can use several different plastics for vacuum forming. Suitable materials include vacuum forming grades of ABS, PETG sheets and – most commonly – HIPs (High Impact Polystyrene sheets). The manufacture of vacuum formed trays is most widely from HIPs.
Are vac forme trays recyclable?
You can recycle HIPS and other polystyrene materials used in manufacturing vacuum formed packaging. Being recyclable minimises environmental impact. Besides this, High Impact Polystyrene is cost-effective to produce, meaning its use is widespread in the food industry.
What is webbing in vacuum forming?
Material webbing when vacuum forming is the unwanted wrinkles that can appear in the mould when the vacuum is applied, and the plastic stretches in an unplanned manner. It can happen if the flow of the heated sheet is not adequately controlled as the tool is raised into the material.
What is draft casting, and why is it important for vacuum forming?
In engineering, the term “draft” refers to the amount of taper for moulded or cast parts perpendicular to the parting line. Engineers measure this in degrees or mm/mm (in/in). The draft or taper on the mould’s sides effectively allows the easy removal of the finished plastic from the mould.
What is meant by a male / female tool?
A male tool is a positive tool that, when formed, produces a forming that is above the clamping of the clamped sheet. With a male tool, the visible surface of the formed part is usually the top surface; therefore, the plastic sheet’s thickness can hide some of the imperfections on the tool surface (producing a more attractive surface finish). A female tool is a tool that, when formed, creates a forming below the clamped sheet’s clamping. Projects that require sharp details or deep cavities use female tools.
Are vacuum forming tools expensive?
For producing tote inserts and vacuum-formed trays, the tooling cost is significantly higher than for Correx® or plastic divisions (although the low unit costs make them competitive in high volume production). However, compared to similar tooling, such as injection moulding, vac-formed tools are relatively low cost.
What is material shedding?
If you use other types of tote inserts, such as cardboard or particularly foam inserts, shedding of material can occur over prolonged, repeated use. Shedding is where tiny particles of the foam material rub away, creating dust and fine debris, which can contaminate or damage parts (something known as FOD – foreign object debris).
Similar tray and insert options
As well as vac-formed trays, your business can source many alternative inserts and plastic trays (and benefit from impartial advice on the best option for your application).