Custom pallets are essential to many industrial processes. For example, food processing and pharmaceutical companies’ products must comply with FDA standards of cleanliness and safety; custom pallets can be engineered with bacterial-resistant properties and chemical-inertness.
Some manufacturers also must meet safety standards, and custom pallets can improve workplace safety when designed with flame-retardant and corrosion-resistant properties. Custom plastic pallets are typically constructed from high density polyethylene, which is a strong, durable plastic material, though high density polypropylene may be used as well.
Compliance with health and safety regulations isn’t the only motivation behind the demand for custom plastic pallets. Many companies with large scale distribution operations, like food and beverage suppliers, want their brand identity to be recognizable in the pallets that bear their products. Pallets can be fabricated in many colors and can feature printed company names.
Custom pallets can be formed through six different plastic fabrication processes: injection molding, compression molding, rotational molding, profile extrusion, thermoforming and structural foam molding.
The most commonly used processes are injection molding and compression molding. In injection molding, plastic pellets are heated to the melting point, then injected into the cavity of a split die or mold that is then clamped shut. The molten plastic is cooled and held in the mold under high pressure until it solidifies.
In compression molding, plastic pellets are heated to their melting point and then placed in an open, heated mold chamber. The mold is then closed with either a top force or plug member, and extreme pressure is applied to the mold. The pressure forces the molten plastic material into contact with every area of the mold, and the heat and pressure are maintained until the molded plastic has cured.
Additives can be combined with the plastic pallets during heating in order to give the plastic pallets additional benefits like UV-protection or increased durability. The mold may also be designed to give the pallet a specific shape to accommodate unique products.