Plastic Pallet History
04 Nov 2017
When most people think of pallets, it tends to be wooden ones that spring to mind. Indeed, more than 90% of the pallet market today is made up of wooden pallets. Although pallets made from plastic are also available to buy, many people are unfamiliar with this type and assume that they are a fairly recent invention. In actual fact, plastic pallets boast a history that goes back more than 50 years, and they have continued to evolve over time, offering increasingly better value to users.
It is not entirely clear when the first plastic pallet was made, but the beginnings of plastic pallet history are thought to date back to after World War II, when they were crafted by individual plastic shops.
Robinson Industries was one of these early plastic shops – it was founded in 1947. Its owner, Fred Robinson, had previously worked in developing styrofoam, and by the 1950s was making thermoformed products. Information given on the company’s website suggests that Robinson Industries was making injection-moulded plastic pallets during the 1960s.
Plastic Pallet of the 1960s
Certainly, the 1960s was the era when evidence of patents relating to pallets made from plastic were published in trade magazines.
In Modern Materials Handling Magazine, published in 1964, there was reference made to fibreglass-reinforced pallets made from plastic.
Evidence from the patents published at this time suggested that pallets were made from a variety of plastic materials, including plastic sheets. Additionally, plastic pallet history reveals that during the 1960s, blow moulding and injection moulding were used to manufacture the plastic pallet. Other methods began to emerge, including compression moulding, structural foam moulding, rotational moulding and thermoforming.
PDQ Plastics began making durable pallets from plastic at this time, including what was known as the Super D pallet, which proved sturdier than any other plastic pallet on the market during that era.
Engineered Polymers Corporation (EPC), based in Minnesota, also began manufacturing structural foam pallets towards the end of the 1960s.
Plastic Pallet of the 1970s
As the 1970s beckoned, more and more companies entered the market for the plastic pallet.
By 1972, Armin Thermodynamics made use of rotational moulding to create pallets at its plant in Oklahoma. Around the same time, Menasha Corporation (ORBIS) launched its own Convoy plastic pallet, as did Horizon Plastics of Cobourg, Ontario, Canada, which created pallets made from structural foam.
Companies which began to make use of the early plastic pallet for storing and transporting items included those working in food and beverage sectors as well as the automotive industries and pharmaceutical processing.
Plastic Pallet in Recent Times
As time has progressed, plastic pallets have been further developed to offer consumers increased value and higher performance. The plastic pallet of today is very reliable, robust and sturdy and offers more durability than its wooden counterpart. More consumers are choosing this type of pallet, as it also scores highly with regards to safety considerations, particularly when handling and storing food, beverages or medicines.