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What Is A Pallet?

What is a plastic pallet? How are plastic pallets used?

A plastic pallet is a flat transport structure used to stably support goods while they are being lifted by a forklift, pallet jack, front loader, or other jacking device.

Plastic pallets are stable structures that provide mechanical stability to large quantities of goods during handling to maintain their product quality from damage.

In addition to being moved by forklifts, single-sided pallets can also be moved on the ground using manual hydraulic trucks, and can also be used for light shelves. Double-sided pallets are heavier and only forklifts can move the pallets. They are often used in three-dimensional shelves. Double-sided pallets can be further divided into flat double-sided pallets and grid double-sided pallets according to the structure of the use surface. Plastic pallets are designed to be moved by equipment such as forklifts, pallet jacks, and front-end loaders.

Typically, pallets can be made from materials such as metal, plastic, wood, and paper. Plastic pallets offer many advantages over other materials, such as being durable, lightweight, hygienic, and cost-effective. Companies can choose plastic pallet designs based on their needs. Plastic pallets can be seen in warehouses, factories, stores, and freight companies. In the meantime, plastic pallets remain an important tool in the logistics and supply chain industry.

Advantages of plastic pallet

Durability

The durability of plastic pallets is what every customer is most concerned about. Compared with wooden pallets, plastic PVC pallets are more durable and can resist corrosion, mildew, insect infestation, and other problems. They can also resist the effects of humidity and temperature and have a long service life. Because of its excellent durability, plastic pallets effectively reduce business maintenance and replacement costs. Plastic pallets are more durable and have a longer lifespan than wooden pallets.

Resist microbial growth and pest infestation

This is one of the most important properties of plastic pallets to consider in industries with high hygiene requirements such as food, beverages, and pharmaceuticals. Due to their non-porous structure and moisture resistance, plastic pallets reduce the growth of microorganisms and pathogens. Microbial and pathogen growth can degrade cargo quality and cause harm to human health.

Plastic pallets are not subject to the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15, or the Regulation on Wood Packaging Material in International Trade (ISPM-15). Since they are not subject to this regulation, plastic pallets do not need to undergo such handling and inspection when entering international ports. Conversely, wood pallet packaging materials are subject to ISPM-15 and require an approval process specified in the regulations.

Lightweight

Plastic pallets are lighter in weight compared to wooden and metal pallets, making them easier to handle. Weight is a major issue during shipping, especially air freight. Plastic pallets incur lower shipping costs in all shipping methods.

Excellent anti-fouling and anti-corrosion capabilities

When PVC plastic pallets are exposed to spills, contamination, and moisture, their integrity is not affected and they are less susceptible to corrosion. Once soiled or contaminated, plastic pallets are easy to clean and disinfect. This extends their service life. Therefore, plastic pallets are also suitable for handling containers containing acids, fuels, solvents, dairy products, etc.

Recyclability

Most economy plastic pallets can be recycled. These pallets made from recycled plastic reduce production costs and reduce the carbon footprint of plastic pallets.

Sustainability and circular economy

A major issue that all companies face in the modern economy and their business practices is sustainability and environmental protection. Plastic pallets are an ideal solution as they can be designed, manufactured, put into use, at the end of their useful life, and recycled into raw material for the production of more pallets. The use of plastic pallets and their ability to be reprocessed and reused make them an ideal tool for transportation and storage and a solution to sustainability needs.

Safety

Fewer risks of splinters, nails, or broken pieces compared to wooden pallets. Plastic pallets are designed to avoid sharp edges and are molded smooth and splinter-free, coupled with their lightweight nature, reducing injuries that may occur to employees during operation.

Plastic pallets are usually made of the following materials:

High density polyethylene pallet (HDPE)

HDPE pallets are the most widely used plastic pallets due to their versatility, cost-effectiveness, and strength. They are highly impact-resistant, which means they will remain stable if they are accidentally dropped or subjected to large forces during transportation or storage. HDPE pallets have good corrosion resistance and heat resistance.

PP pallets are the second most widely used plastic pallets after HDPE pallets. They are stronger than HDPE pallets and can withstand the abuse of forklifts and pallet jacks. They are compatible with most chemicals but are more expensive than HDPE pallets. 

Polyethylene terephthalate pallet (PET)

PET pallets have good dimensional stability, a high strength-to-weight ratio, and good corrosion resistance. The surface of PET pallets is impermeable to moisture, liquids, and gases.

Plastic pallets can be manufactured through a variety of processes

Injection molding:

Pallet injection molding involves the high-pressure transfer of molten plastic material into a mold, where it solidifies and cools. The molded plastic pallets molten plastic take up the volume of the mold cavity and take the shape of the tray in the mold. Suitable for high-volume production. 

Thermoforming:

The thermoforming process involves heating sheets of plastic to their forming temperature and stretching or pressing them against a mold so that the heated plastic takes on the shape of the mold. Tools for thermoforming are less expensive than injection molding. The total cost of the process varies depending on the color of the pallet and how the raw materials are mixed.

Structural foam molding:

Similar to injection molding but uses a chemical blowing agent to create a foam-like core with a solid outer layer. The resulting plastic pallet has a honeycomb structure at its core but is still dense. The plastic pallets produced have a high strength ratio and high impact resistance.

Rotational molding:

Rotational molding involves simultaneously heating a powdered plastic material in a hollow mold and slowly rotating it on two axes. When the plastic is heated, it melts and adheres to the inner walls of the mold, forming the shape. After the molten plastic settles on the inner wall, it cools and solidifies, and is then removed from the hollow mold.

Blow molding

The blow molding process uses compressed air to stretch heated plastic against the inner walls of a mold cavity. Blow-molded pallets also feature uniform wall thickness and higher load-bearing capacity. They also offer greater strength and impact resistance than injection-molded pallets.

Types of plastic pallets

Designed to be used in various racking systems. Shelf-ready pallets are injection-molded, rotomolded, or foam-molded and are heavy-duty pallets with significantly higher load-bearing capacity. Different types of rack pallets are designed to meet the needs of different storage racks.

reusable plastic pallets
lightweight plastic pallets

Solid and robust, ideal for stacking. Stackable pallets have sturdy bottom supports that provide stability to the products loaded on top of them when they are placed on top of another loading pallet. They are often used in warehouses to efficiently stack goods and save floor space.

black plastic pallets
pallet plastic heavy duty

Legs designed to nest inside each other, saving space. Nestable pallets have hollow legs at the corners to allow stacking of empty pallets when not loaded. Unlike stackable pallets, they have an open base. Nestable pallets free up space in transit and in the warehouse when these pallets are not in use.

Lightweight and cost-effective for one-way shipments. Compared to wooden pallets, which need to be fumigated before being exported, plastic export pallets have many advantages, including being more hygienic, more durable, and resistant to pests and rot. Plastic export pallets are lightweight pallets that are ideal for container use.

Plastic pallet size

Standard sizes often mirror those of wooden pallets, with common dimensions being 48″x40″ (in North America) or 1200x800mm and 1200x1000mm (in Europe and Asia). Of course, custom sizes can be made to suit specific needs. 

Conclusion

All in all plastic pallets are structurally stable and provide stability to goods during transportation or storage. They are one of the important tools in the supply chain and logistics industry.

Plastic pallets offer many advantages over pallets made of other materials. For example, they are lightweight, durable, long-lasting, and highly recyclable.

Sinoplastic is a plastic pallet manufacturer that adheres to the principle of quality first and is committed to providing the highest quality products and services to partners in various fields. We use high-quality raw materials and control product quality from the source. We have multiple plastic pallet production lines and product molds, which can quickly respond to customer needs and actively cooperate with customers’ custom plastic pallet needs.

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