Monthly Archives: September 2014

Custom Thermoforming: A Look At The Many Types Of Plastic

Custom thermoforming, the process by which plastic is transformed into custom product packaging, is a service that many industries need. There are many different types of plastic used for making packaging and other products. Each type of plastic has characteristics which make the idea material for specific products.

There are basically seven categories of plastic and each is identified with a number. This number is known as a resin identification code. When packaging or a plastic product are thrown away, this code lets the recycling company know what type of plastic was used to make the item and how it should be recycled. Virtually all thermoplastics are recyclable, which makes plastic a highly sustainable material.

The two most common types of plastic accepted by recycling centers are those with a 1 or 2 on them. The “1” indicates that the item was created using polyethylene terephthalate or PETE (sometimes known as PET). This includes water bottles, soda bottles and plastic food jars, such as those which hold peanut butter or jam.

The number “2” indicates that the plastic used was high-density polyethylene or HDGE. Milk jugs typically are made out of HDPE, as well as other liquids such as shampoo and even laundry detergent and bleach. While HDPE cannot be used again to hold food products, it is recycled and used to make many important items such as ropes, plastic tool boxes, storage crates and even fencing and plastic furniture.

Plastics featuring the number “3” are made from polyvinyl chloride or what we simply call PVC. Obviously pipes are the most common item that springs to mind when one thinks about PVC, but it also can be used to flooring, signs and is used as insulation for electrical cables.

Low-density polyethylene is the type of plastic known by the number “4,” and this plastic is used to make sandwich bags, grocery bags and that thin plastic wrap we use to cover food. When recycled, it is transformed into plastic lumber, garbage cans and even plastic furniture.

When you see a “5” on a plastic product, this indicates that polypropylene was used to create the item. It is a very strong type of plastic and can be used for food items such as a yogurt or butter container as well as disposable diapers and prescription bottles. Carpeting often is made out of polypropylene as well as lids for items such as ketchup bottles. Reusable containers often are made from polypropylene because this plastic can withstand the hot water and steam in a dishwasher.

You probably have used polystyrene many times before, and this plastic, which is identified by a “6,” is better known as Styrofoam. Like most thermoplastics, polystyrene can be recycled so if your curbside recycling program accepts this plastic, be sure to toss plates, cups, packing materials and all other polystyrene items in your recycling bin.

If a product has a resin code of “7” this indicates that several different types of plastic have been used. Generally these types of plastic are harder to recycle, so if sustainability is one of your biggest goals, then you might want to opt for other types of plastic.

At Indepak, we are committed to providing clients with custom packaging solutions that truly meet their needs. As a thermoforming company we can help you through every step of the process from design all the way through to fulfilment and shipping of your product. We can create all sorts of custom thermoform packaging and other, such as blister packaging, clamshell packaging, plastic thermoform trays and much more.

Fun Facts About Custom Thermoforming & Thermoplastics

Thermoplastics are some of the world’s most versatile materials. They are used by virtually every industry, and the products created out of thermoplastic range from thermoform packaging to floor tiles to plumbing pipe and even clothing, toys and furniture.

Sometimes people confuse the terms “thermoplastics” with “thermoset plastics,” but there are some very important differences. Thermoset plastics are used to make car parts, aircraft parts, shoe soles, tires, electronics, flooring and many other items that need to be very strong. Thermoplastics, on the other hand, while they are certainly strong enough to protect and hold a variety of solids and liquids, are not as durable. However, they are highly recyclable and thermoset plastic cannot be recycled.

There are many different types of thermoplastic, and each is identified with a special resin identification code. These codes are used by recycling centers to separate different kinds of plastics and other materials. Two of the most recyclable plastics are polyethylene terephthalate (PETE or PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE). These plastics are identified with a code of 1 or 2, respectively, and these are the two types of plastic most commonly accepted by curbside recycling programs. However, all thermoplastics can be recycled and more and more cities are offering expanded recycling of plastics.

While rubber, collagen and other natural materials have been used by man for thousands of years, the first manmade plastic was Parkesine, which was created by combining cellulose with camphor and other elements. Polystyrene (known as Styrofoam) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) was invented in the 19th century as well, but not fully developed and ready for use until the 20th century. PVC was another plastic that actually was discovered in the 19th century but not developed enough for widespread use until the 1920s.

Thermoforming, the process by which plastic is heated, molded and cooled to create a thermoform package is not a new process. In fact, types of thermoforming actually existed in ancient times although the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Micronesians certainly weren’t using PVC or PETE to make their products. Instead tortoise shells and tree bark often were used to make everything from food containers to boats.

Since 1967, Indepak has been on the cutting edge of the thermoforming industry. We offer custom packaging solutions to clients in a wide variety of industries. We can create custom thermoform packaging that meets your needs and budget. As a thermoforming company, our goal is to provide you with excellent customer service while providing you with a total solution for packaging from development to production and beyond to package fulfillment, inventory management and shipping.

Custom Thermoforming: Understanding The Process

At Indepak, we provide custom packaging solutions for our customers in a variety of industries. Thermoplastic packaging is an excellent option for retail packaging, electronics packaging, food packaging, medical or pharmaceutical packaging and much more. We can design and create a package specifically for your product that fits within your budget.

The process of custom thermoforming begins by creating a design for your package. Perhaps you need blister packaging or clamshell packaging to enclose your product or maybe you wish to place your product in thermoform trays. We look at your product and design a package that truly suits your specific product.

Molds are created based on your design and this is where the fun really begins. In basic terms, thermoforming is a process where plastic is heated to a specific temperature in order to make it pliable. The heated sheets of plastic are forced into the mold, shaped and then cooled. The excess plastic is then trimmed away, and the package is removed from the mold.

We use a variety of different types of plastic to create packages for our customers, based on their needs. Some of the plastics we can use include high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), poly-vinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene terephthalate (PETE), and high-density polyethylene just to name a few. We even have starch-based bio materials for our customers to consider.

Sustainability is a huge focus of our operation and we go well beyond the current ISO 14001 requirements for environmental management. Our goal is to reduce waste, reuse and recycle our thermoplastics. Thermoplastics are highly recyclable and we offer post-consumer grade materials as well as new plastics.

Thermoform Product Development Tips

If you have a product that you are hoping to sell in retail stores, there are many decisions you will have to make before your items appear on shelves. While you might already have considered how to produce the item, other aspects such as marketing and packaging can be almost as important.

A great looking package is worth its weight in gold. Your packaging not only needs to be attractive in general, it needs to appeal to the person most likely to buy the item. If your product is a toy, the package needs to appeal to the age group most likely to enjoy that toy. If you are aiming at 20-something shoppers, you want something young and hip. It is important that you study up on the types of packaging designs that appeal to your specific set of consumers.

Once you have a design in mind, you will need to find a company that can produce your custom product packaging. Custom plastic packaging, such as thermoformed plastic packages are a great option. These can be formed into just about any shape to protect and display your product. Blister packs can be created, and these are thermoform plastic packages that completely surround the product. Vacuum thermoforming is the process by which many plastic retail packing styles are made. Often a thermoforming company, such as Indepak, can create a package design for your product and then produce the package and even help with shipment and fulfillment.

Marketing your product is going be another element that is highly important, especially for a new product. Aside from commercials on television or perhaps radio as well, you will want to use social media to spread the word about your product. This includes placing your product on sites such as Pinterest and Facebook, as well as setting up Twitter and Instagram campaigns. In order to successful utilize social media; you must set up a well-designed website with e-commerce capabilities. This should provide all of the information people need about your products as well as a way to purchase your items.

Sometimes in the beginning, it also helps to introduce your product at various trade shows. Just about every industry has relevant trade shows and if you can set up a booth and demonstrate your product then this can be a way to attract buyers. Keep in mind that trade shows cater to businesses that will buy your product and not the general consumer. This can be a good way to introduce the product to large chain stores and smaller shops that might be able to sell your unique item.

You also could consider starting out small and local. Introduce yourself to local shopkeepers and see if you can set up a demonstration of your product. Rent a booth at local farmers’ markets and craft fairs, as well, and get people interested. There are also local and regional festivals where it might be appropriate to showcase your new and interesting product. Take advantage of all of these opportunities as they come along for maximum exposure of your product.