Design and Technology (D&T) KS3: Drape forming

This short film explains the process of drape forming, which is used to create curved or more complex shapes out of plastic.

Clear acrylic is used in this example but the processes can be used with a wide variety of thermoplastics for RMT, engineering and graphics projects.

Teacher Notes

Points for discussion

  • What are the key differences between line bending and drape forming?
  • How might you create more complex, compound shapes using vacuum forming?
  • What are the key aspects of mould design and preparation?
  • How good is this process in terms of repeatability and for use as a batch production process?
  • What kinds of commercial products or components are made using this process?
  • How you might scale up or mechanise the process for larger scale production?
  • What is the thermoplastic cycle and how can plastics be recycled?

Suggested activities

  • Make some clear plastic covers for curved boxes or enclosures.
  • Study acrylic furniture and then design and make your own prototype piece.
  • Create a wind ornament for a garden.
  • Combine this technique with line bending to make a mobile phone holder or desk tidy.
  • Make a designer set of goggles or a prototype pair of smart glasses.
  • Create a lampshade for an LED lighting project.
  • For KS4, this process can be used in a wide variety of product design and graphic product solutions.

Curriculum Notes

Suitable for teaching design and technology (D&T) at KS3/KS4 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and 3rd/4th levels in Scotland.

More from this series

Line bending
Marking shapes on metal
Cutting a shape from metal