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When it comes to packaging materials, manufacturers have a variety of options, including rigid packaging and flexible packaging. At Indepak, we specialize in providing rigid plastic packaging for our customers. Here’s a look at the materials we can use to create your custom packaging.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

ABS is highly resistant to many chemicals and it’s a strong rigid plastic material. ABS also can be made in a variety of beautiful custom colors. In fact, ABS is the material used to make Lego bricks and used as filament in 3D printers.

ABS is FDA-approved for food contact, and it’s often used to create different types of trays, as well as thermoform plastic parts for lab equipment, vehicles and more. One drawback of ABS is that it does have a lower melting point than some other rigid materials, so it’s not suitable for all applications.

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

HDPE is a commonly used plastic for many types of packaging, including food packaging and medical packaging. HDPE is strong and lightweight and has excellent chemical resistance, which is why it often is used to create detergent bottles and other cleaners as well as personal care items such as cosmetics and hair care products.

High-Impact Polystyrene (HIPS)

If you need a strong plastic that is highly impact resistant, HIPS can be an excellent option. HIPS is FDA-approved for food contact and often is used to create deli and bakery trays as well as clamshell containers for sandwiches, wraps and other deli items. HIPS also can be produced in many custom colors. In addition to food packaging, this rigid plastic can be used as a packaging material for medical items, personal care items and many retail products.

Oriented Polystyrene (OPS)

OPS is a highly affordable type of rigid plastic that can be used for many packaging applications. While it’s inexpensive, it can be brittle and is not as strong as other types of plastic materials. OPS can be used to create custom food packaging, although it is not particularly heat resistant, it can be used to hold refrigerated and frozen foods, as well as bakery and deli items.

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

PET is one of the most commonly used types of rigid plastic. PET is FDA-approved for food contact and commonly used to create plastic water bottles and beverage containers, but it can be used for many other types of rigid packaging, including blister packaging, clamshell packaging, tubs and thermoform trays.
We also can use PETG plastic, which is PET with glycol added. PETG is less brittle than PET and feels softer to the touch, it’s also highly shock resistant. However, it is less scratch-resistant than PET and can be damaged by UV light more easily than PET. At Indepak, we have extensive experience with PET and with PETG and can help you decide which option is the best fit for your rigid packaging.

Polypropylene (PP)

PP is one of the most commonly used plastic materials on the planet. When it comes to food packaging, it’s ideal as it provides excellent heat resistance. It’s often used to create thermoform trays for frozen dinners as it can withstand the heat of a microwave and sometimes is even oven-safe and dishwasher-safe.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC is used to make packaging as well as many other products, such as PVC pipes. PVC is highly impact resistant and durable, as well as moisture-resistant and resistant to many chemicals and solvents. It often is used for medical packaging, such as over-the-counter and prescription drug bottles. But it also can be used to create blister packaging for many retail products.

Starch-Based Biomaterials 

Bioplastics are created using renewable resources, typically food starch. The advantage of these plastics is that you aren’t using traditional plastics, which are byproducts of petroleum and not renewable. Bioplastics have a lower carbon footprint than traditional plastics, which makes them an attractive option.

The downsides include the cost, which can be much higher than traditional plastics. Additionally, while some bioplastics are compostable and/or biodegradable, they won’t break down in a landfill. These plastics must be taken to a special facility where the proper conditions for biodegradation are created, otherwise, these plastics can take many years to degrade. Still, these can be a sustainable option to consider, and our design team will let you know if biomaterials might be a good fit for your packaging project.

Non-Plastic Materials

Of course, there are other rigid material options to consider including glass, cardboard and aluminum packaging. Glass and aluminum are typically used as materials in food packaging, but cardboard and paperboard can be used for many different types of products.

In general, rigid plastic does have several advantages over these materials. Plastic is more affordable and lighter in weight, so it costs less to ship and uses less energy during transport. Plastic also is more impact-resistant than glass, aluminum and cardboard and far more moisture-resistant and chemical-resistant than cardboard.

At Indepak, we create packaging using rigid plastic materials, but we can let you know if other materials might be a better fit for your product. We also can create combination designs, such as trap blisters, which include a custom plastic cavity that is “trapped” between two pieces of paperboard. This can be a good option for many retail products and highly sustainable as it reduces the amount of plastic material needed to create your packaging.

Rigid Plastic Vs. Flexible Plastic

Many of the plastic materials highlighted in this blog can be used as rigid plastic or as flexible plastic, such as plastic films. Flexible plastic is popular and used for many applications, but it’s not the best match for all products. Flexible plastic, especially when combined with a desiccant can lock out moisture, but otherwise, it’s not as protective as rigid plastic packaging. Rigid plastic materials keep out moisture and provide a high level of impact resistance and tamper resistance.

Flexible packaging can be cost-effective for some items, and it does have a lower carbon footprint than most other rigid materials. However, it cannot be recycled, and many rigid materials can be recycled. Additionally, it is less heat-resistant and the packaging itself sometimes can alter the flavor of foods or liquids inside. If your product is not a food item, this last factor isn’t an issue, but if you are a specialty foods manufacturer this can be a problem.

Rigid Packaging From Indepak

At Indepak, we’ve been creating rigid plastic packaging for more than 50 years, and this includes all types of blister packaging, clamshell packaging, tri-fold designs, plastic tubs (with or without lids), trays and custom designs. Not everything we create is a package, either, and we can create custom thermoform plastic parts or products.
When it comes to sustainability, virtually all of the materials we use at Indepak are recyclable and we go beyond ISO 14001:2015 requirements, resulting in a very low-waste operation in every part of the company. Additionally, our ISO 9001-2015 certifications and FSSC 22000 certifications speak to our commitment to providing each customer with the highest quality packaging or parts.

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