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No matter what product you produce, there are packaging materials that are a perfect match for your product. At Indepak, we can find a thermoform plastic material that can protect, preserve and display your unique product.

For instance, you might produce an amazing specialty food product that needs packaging that will preserve the product but also can withstand the heat of a microwave or oven. Or, you might produce electronic components that need protection from static electricity. Perhaps your product is a fluid and you need packaging materials that offers high chemical resistance.

Our facility is stocked with a myriad of high-speed thermoforming equipment, capable of processing many different types of packaging materials. Some of the most common types we use include ABS, HDPE, HIPS, OPS, PET, PETG, PP and PVC. Here is a quick look at each of these plastics and some of their characteristics or properties.

ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)

In general, when we talk about thermoform plastics, we are discussing various types of polymers, which are long chains of molecules that are linked together. With ABS, we are combining styrene with acrylonitrile and polybutadiene. Each of these three monomers brings something helpful to the final product. For instance, the acrylonitrile increases the strength of the plastic, while the styrene improves its chemical resistance and provides a nice shiny appearance and the butadiene adds extra durability and toughness to this plastic.

ABS is used to create a variety of products, most notably LEGO blocks and 3D printer filament, but it can be used as packaging materials. Of course, not everything we create at Indepak is a package; we can create parts and components using materials such as ABS, as well as thermoform trays, point-of-purchase displays and other unique items.

HDPE (High-density polyethylene)

HDPE is one of the most commonly used thermoform plastics and can be an excellent option for packaging materials. As the name suggests, this is a very dense type of polyethylene and offers a high level of tensile strength. Tensile strength basically indicates the maximum amount of pressure a material can handle while being stretched without beginning to fracture.

HDPE is quite impact resistant and strong, but also very lightweight. HDPE is capable of holding heavier items without bending or breaking, which makes it ideal for packaging. As it also serves as a highly effective moisture barrier with high chemical resistance it is commonly used to create milk jugs and other types of bottles that hold liquids such as detergents and solvents. HDPE also is quite easy to recycle, as it is accepted by most curbside recycling programs in the United States.

HIPS (High-impact polystyrene)

When it comes to packaging materials, HIPS often is used to create clamshells and thermoform trays. As you would expect from the name, HIPS does indeed offer a high level of impact resistance, which can make it a great option for packaging. For instance, if a consumer accidentally drops a product secured in HIPS packaging, the plastic will be able to absorb much of the impact rather than the product. HIPS has many other advantages as well, as it is affordable, recyclable and FDA compliant, so it can be used for food packaging. Another awesome feature of HIPS is that you can create clear packaging and parts with this plastic, but colorization is quite easy with HIPS, so we can create packaging in just about any color you might want.

OPS (Oriented Polystyrene)

Oriented polystyrene, like many of our packaging materials, is a highly affordable option although it lacks the impact resistance of HDPE and HIPS. Because of the “styrene,” packaging formed from this material is glossy and attractive, ideal for showing off deli foods and bakery items to their best advantage. OPE sometimes can be a good option for products meant to be stored in a freezer as well as a refrigerator. As with all of the other thermoform plastics in this article, OPS is recyclable.


If you’ve every purchased a water bottle, then you already are familiar with PET (polyethylene terephthalate). This commonly used thermoform plastic is highly recyclable, accepted by all curbside recycling programs in the United States. PET is formed by creating a polymer from ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. It’s also lightweight, affordable and offers excellent resistance to liquids and gases, making it ideal for water, soft drinks and other beverages.

When it comes to PETG, this stands for polyethylene terephthalate-glycol modified. This type of plastic tends to feel softer than PET and is not as brittle as PET, offer greater impact resistance. PETG also is more pliable than PET. On the other hand, PET is more scratch resistant than PETG and PET also offers more UV light resistance than PETG. If you are interested in using PET or PETG for your packaging materials, we can help you determine which of these two materials would be the best fit for your unique product.

As a fun side note, PET was developed by chemists at DuPont and initially was used as a plastic fiber. You can purchase many products and items of clothing made from PET, although it is known as “polyester” when used as a fabric.

PP (Polypropylene)

There are many reasons why polypropylene can be an excellent option for packaging materials. PP offers high chemical resistance, which means you can store acids and detergents in PP containers and the plastic won’t begin to break down. It’s strong, durable and impact resistant, and won’t break or crack easily. It also can withstand high levels of heat, which makes it ideal as material for containers that are used in microwave ovens.

Polypropylene is the second most widely used thermoform plastic, and is used for many items beyond packaging. PP is used to make auto parts, most notably car battery cases, as well as medical equipment, furniture, ropes, rugs and clothing. Many curbside recycling programs accept PP, although it is not quite as widely accepted as PET and HDPE.

PVC (Polyvinyl chloride)

When you think about PVC, you probably think about pipes, but there are many other uses for PVC. If you are searching for affordable packaging materials, PVC can be an excellent option for both clamshell and blister packaging. While it is not approved for use in food packaging, it certainly can be used to hold other products. PVC offers high chemical resistance and often is used for pipes because it doesn’t rot or corrode. PVC also is durable and shock resistant and, as it doesn’t conduct electricity, PVC can be a good insulator, which is why it often is used to house cables.

Depending on your product and budget, we can use any of these thermoform plastics as your packaging materials. Additionally, we also can create packaging using starch-based bioplastics. Give us a call to discuss your project and we will find the perfect plastic material to protect and display your product.

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