Thermoformers & The Plastics They Use

Thermoplastics are types of plastic that can be heated up and then formed into a wide variety of products and packaging. As thermoformers, we use a wide variety of thermoplastics, including a few of the following plastics.

1. PET

PET is a commonly used thermoplastic and one of the many types that our thermoformers use here at Indepak. PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate, and it is actually a member of the polyester family of thermoplastics. It can be used to create synthetic fibers for clothing but also to create containers that are safe for food and liquids. One of the best characteristics of PET is its recyclability. This type of thermoplastic is the easiest to recycle, accepted by virtually all curbside recycling programs.

2. PETG

PETG is polyethylene terephthalate glycol-modified and this thermoplastic, while related to PET, has many special properties which make it ideally suitable for thermoformers to use during the creating of a thermoforming package or product. PETG can be thermoformed at fairly low temperatures, which reduces the amount of energy needed to create packaging and products. PETG also is quite strong and has good chemical resistance, which makes it a possible option for our customers that need either food packaging or perhaps pharmaceutical packaging.

3. ABS

When you polymerize acrylonitrile and styrene with a dash of polybutadiene, the end result is a commonly used thermoplastic known as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene or ABS. You probably think of Styrofoam when you hear the word styrene and there is a relationship. However, ABS is much stronger than styrene and can be used by thermoformers to create a wide variety of products. ABS not only is a low-cost thermoplastic, it also has excellent impact resistance and is quite easy to thermoform. We use it to create storage cases, trays, point-of-purchase displays and much more.

4. PVC

PVC, polyvinyl chloride, is a thermoplastic that is familiar to most everyone, and it is used to make those famous PVC pipes we can buy at the local hardware store. However, that is not the only product crafted out of this thermoplastic. As thermoformers, we can use PVC to create a variety of items. It might interest you to know that PVC can be used to make everything from credit cards to furniture and even bags, and those are just a few items made from PVC. Some of the advantages of PVC include its low-cost as well as its strength and durability. It is also non-corrosive, which is an obvious advantage when using PVC to create pipes.

5. OPS

OPS is yet another option that thermoformers might use. This abbreviation stands for oriented polystyrene. OPS is created by stretching a sheet of polystyrene both lengthwise and crosswise. Again, when you think about polystyrene, you probably think about a foamy-type of plastic used for disposable coffee cups and take-out containers. However, when you stretch the polystyrene, the properties change and it transforms into a rigid, highly transparent thermoplastic suitable for all sorts of trays, lids and food containers.

6. HDPE

HDPE, or high-density polyethylene, is yet another thermoplastic commonly used by thermoformers around the globe. Like many thermoplastics, HDPE is popular because of its low cost. It also provides excellent chemical resistance, and many grades of HDPE are approved by the FDA for food-related applications. HDPE is very easy to recycle, as it is widely accepted by curbside recycling programs. Our thermoformers can use it to create food storage containers and bottles as well as some types of packaging. It also is used for all sorts of interesting products such as 3-D printer filament, furniture and even hula hoops.

7. PP

PP is the abbreviation for polypropylene, and our thermoformers often use this type of thermoplastic to create all shapes and sizes of packaging. PP is highly moisture-resistant, which is extremely important for virtually every type of product. PP also offers excellent chemical resistance. It’s recyclable and when recycled, can be used to create everything from flower pots to plastic lumber and auto parts.

8. More Options

We use several other different types of thermoplastics at Indepak, including thermoplastics that contain post-consumer materials and even starch-based bioplastics. Whether you need a thermoplastic package or a product, our team of expert thermoformers can select a type of thermoplastic ideally suitable for your unique needs.

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