While your project and packaging demand only the best materials, determining the plastic that best fits for your vision can be overwhelming. In an attempt to make the process more straightforward, we’ve compiled a glossary of popularly used materials that explains their properties and how they can offer the perfect fit for your design.
ABS- Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene Plastic-
One of the most commonly used thermoplastic polymers, the ABS terpolymer is prized for its outstanding resistance to both extreme heat and impact. Using common thermoplastic treatments, ABS can be augmented to withstand even more impact as your project demands. These qualities render ABS a primary choice for mechanical projects, though it should be noted this plastic also benefits from reliable electrical traits that are highly resistant to the elements.
Acrylic- Acrylate Polymers-
A widely popular plastic for use in cosmetic packaging, acrylate polymers (often referred to as “polyacrylates” or simply “acrylics”) offer flexible elasticity, trusted impact resistance, and the marketing magnetism of transparency. Although acrylics are technically a type of synthetic rubber, they are better known as a popular substitute for (or improvement on) glass
Thanks to its rugged durability, easy color customization, and manufacturing simplicity, aluminum easily earns its place among the most desired materials for packaging cosmetics. In fact, aluminum’s properties are so desirable in such a vast array of industries that it consistently tops out as the world’s most widely utilized non-ferrous metal. A side benefit of using aluminum is its high recyclability.
AS- Acrylonitrile Styrene Plastic
Prized for an ability to repel unsightly staining and a ruggedness that even resists cracking from stress, Acrylonitrile Styrene Plastic (AS) gains additional popularity from its ease of use in manufacturing. This grease-resistant material is closely related to Styrene Acrylonitrile Plastic (SAN).
HDPE-High-density Polyethylene Plastic
This petroleum-based polyethylene thermoplastic is typically referred to as HDPE (as opposed to the lengthier High-density Polyethylene Plastic) but can also be referred to as PEHD (an acronym for polyethylene high-density). You most likely handle HDPE on a daily basis as it’s popularly applied in the manufacturing of plastic bottles, piping, and even building materials such as plastic lumber. HDPE is approved by the FDA so you’ll often find it in food storage containers while its resistance to both moisture and a vast array of chemicals also makes it an ideal consideration for cosmetic packaging. Since only minimal branching exists in HDPE, it exhibits high tensile strength as well as remarkable protection from impact.
LDPE- Low-density Polyethylene Plastic-
Another thermoplastic and the first grade of polyethylene ever produced, low-density polyethylene plastic (shortened to LDPE) continues to be widely used despite modern advances in plastic technology. This historic popularity owes a great debt to the significant strength of the material coupled with a surprising amount of flexibility. These qualities find LDPE used in a vast variety of applications, from plastic shopping bags and food packaging to machine-ready parts and containers for strong chemicals.
PE- Polyethelyne Plastic
You may already know that polyethylene plastic (PE) is the most common plastic in existence. PE is one of the most cost effective materials on the planet, finding applications in products too vast and diverse to list. Its highly ductile nature, resistance to moisture, and affordability continue to propel PE’s already immense popularity.
PET- Polyethylene Terephthalate Plastic –
The most prominent thermoplastic polymer resin of the renowned polyester family, you can find Polyethylene Terephthalate Plastic (PET or PETE)in food storage containers, thermoforming applications, and even textiles. It’s a highly recyclable material adding to its supple, light characteristics to make it ideal for disposable items with very limited use such as plastic cups and bottles. In textiles, the material is typically referred to as polyester whereas plastic packaging favors the acronym PET.
PETE-Polyethylene Terephthalate Plastic-
PETE is simply another acronym for Polyethylene Terephthalate Plastic along with PET and the obsolete acronyms PETP and PET-P.
PETG-Polyethylene Terephthalate Plastic
Some applications call for Polyethylene Terephthalate Plastic to be modified using copolymerization methods. A popular result is PETG which offers additional qualities such as resistance to not only moisture but alcohol solvents. PETG also benefits from a lower melting temperature than the homopolymer PET, making it ideal for processes involving injection molding.
PMMA-Polymethyl Methacrylate Plastic-
A popular glass alternative, Poly(methyl methacrylate), also referred to as acrylic glass or simply PMMA, is a thermoplastic often produced in sheet form. Though it’s often considered a type of glass, PMMA is unique in that it offers a stronger surface hardness than any other thermoplastic, hence its allure as a glass alternative. It’s more affordable, though less strong than polycarbonate. PMMA is also favored as a glass substitute because it exhibits protection from ultraviolet rays and general erosion. It’s easily customizable through common colorization techniques. Ultimately, PMMA can be recycled which makes it an even more attractive material for a diverse assortment of projects.
Remarkably resistant to a wide variety of chemicals, Polypropylene Plastic (also known as popylpropene or simply PP) is a highly popular thermoplastic polymer utilized for products as varied as auto parts, medical and lab equipment, textiles, and general packaging. It’s often desired in food storage products as it’s BPA-free and safe for use in high heat environments such as dishwashers and microwaves. While it is highly similar to polyethylene, PP offers higher heat resistance and better mechanical applications, though weaker chemical protection by comparison. PP is also easily customizable through coloring, specifically dyeing techniques.
PS- Polystyrene Plastic-
Polystyrene Plastic (PS) is one of the world’s most popular plastics, available in solid or foam states. Though it is transparent by nature, colorization of PS is a fairly simple process. It is highly popular in several molding applications and vacuum forming for its tendency to flow when heated but return to its structured, solid state upon cooling, allowing for manipulation. Ornate details can be accurately recreated using PS. Another reason for the high popularity of PS is its cost effectiveness. PS can also be easily augmented through basic manufacturing techniques to improve its durability.
SAN-Styrene Acrylonitrile Plastic-
When a project requires more heat resistance than polystyrene can afford, Styrene Acrylonitrile Plastic (SAN) is often the material to which manufacturers turn. SAN offers the crystalline clarity of polystyrene as well as its rigidity but can withstand the extreme temperature of boiling water. For this reason, it’s another plastic material popularly used in food packaging and kitchenware. SAN is also popularly utilized in cosmetic packaging, optical fibers, and computer parts.
Decorating Process Terms
The packaging of your product should convey your company’s unique aesthetic. Paxon offers a variety of decorative options to infuse your packaging with the true character of your brand so that the essence of your company as well as your product are conveyed to the consumer.
Prized for its ability to enhance the adhesive qualities of metallic packaging, aluminum anodizing is ideal for when you want to add a splash of color to your design. It’s also the perfect technique for increasing the longevity of your packaging thanks to its anti-corrosive benefits. A number of cosmetic enrichments can be achieved using aluminum anodizing, including dense yet porous veneers and reflective glosses.
Popularized through print applications, hot stamping bypasses potential problems with messy inks through a completely dry process that relies on a precise ratio of heat and pressure to transfer a dye to your packaging. Hot stamping offers a variety of colors including metallic options. The process can also be used to wrap decorative print around 3 dimensional objects such as rounded canisters. Decorative foil applications regularly employ hot stamping techniques.
Tubular plastic packaging often benefits from offset printing techniques which convey an inked image from a plate to a rubberized blanket before it is applied to the packaging veneer. A multitude of eye-catching effects can be obtained through offset printing, including designs which incorporate multiple colors and utilize gradient techniques.
If your packaging concept involves designs with multiple colors over a 360-degree surface, you may be interested in silk screen printing. It’s achieved through passing ink through a mesh with carefully made stencils blocking unwanted transfer of ink, thus forming the design. Silk screen printing can also offer textured results which can bring a new dimension to your packaging concepts.
If you’re really looking to personalize your packaging, you can create custom colors and textures through spray coating. This includes (but is not limited to) finish types such as matte, gloss, fading, etc. This is a fairly quick process so it may be your best choice if time is of the utmost essence. It can also be used to bolster the strength of your packaging surface, protecting it from scratching.
You can create hybrid packaging materials using vacuum metalizing which bonds metal to packaging consisting of a non-metal material. This results in the material taking on a slightly metallic appearance. The fusion of the metal into the non-metallic material also adds reinforcement, support, and strength to your packaging.