What Goes Into A Plastic Pallet And How?
16 Sep 2017
Plastic pallets may look identical to each other; however, when you delve into their manufacturing process, you will quickly realise that there are many different types of pallet. In addition to being constructed in various ways, pallets made from plastic comprise a variety of different synthetic material components. Here is all you need to know.
Understanding plastic materials
To appreciate how plastic containers are made, it is important to understand that that are three different forms of plastic materials. Thermosets are one type of plastic, which remain hard after they have been heated. Another type of plastic material is elastomers, which boast great elastic capabilities.
The final type of plastic, and the only one used to create new plastic pallets, is thermoplastics. Unlike thermosets, thermoplastics become soft when they are heated.
More about thermoplastics
Plastic containers are made from thermoplastics, but these plastics are not made from a single component. With thermoplastics, there are four different materials that make up this unique substance: MIX PE, MIX HDPE, MIX PP/PE and 100 per cent HDPE.
When these four plastics work together during the heating process, they are encouraged to melt down. This is ideal for creating a plastic pallet, as it means the material can be easily transformed into any shape or structure. Crucially, when the material is allowed to cool down and harden, it retains the original form and structure.
Comparing PP and PE
If we take a closer look at some of the components used in thermoplastics, there are some marked differences that distinguish each one. PP and PE are quite dissimilar, but what are these exactly and how do they vary from each other? PP is a plastic material known as polypropylene, whereas PE is referred to as polythene. PP is more flexible and durable than PE, but PE produces a stiff finish. This is ideal if you want to create pallets that are strong and not liable to bending.
Another difference between PP and PE is their temperature tolerance. PP boasts a higher tolerance to heat, meaning it can be heated up to 90°C without causing any problems or changes to its structure. The optimum temperature for PP is room temperature. On the other hand, PE enjoys a higher freezing tolerance. Unlike PP, which will become brittle and break if temperatures drop below freezing, PE is able to withstand very cold temperatures and will remain in peak condition when the mercury plummets to -40°C.
Understanding the different characteristics of PP and PE is important to determine which type of plastic pallet meets your specific requirements. If you need pallets that have certain temperature restrictions, choosing the right pallet according to PP or PE characteristics is especially important. Whether you are buying new or used plastic pallets, understanding the components of the pallet means you can get more from it and expect increased durability.