If you’re involved within the product packaging industry, it’s worthwhile to know what materials are utilized in product packaging, and what all those abbreviations really stand for. Manufacturers in the flexible packaging industry seldom give much information on materials beyond the engineering specifications and the basic material categorizations of paper, film, foam, foil, or shrink wrap plastic. Here is a list of common materials used in flexible packaging, along with a short definition of the most popular flexible packaging materials.
Common flexible Packaging Materials include: Bio plastics, Cast Polypropylene (CPP), Film Foil Laminations, High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), Linear Low Density Polyethylene (LLDPE), Medium Density Polyethylene (MDPE), Metalized Oriented Polypropylene (METOPP), Metalized Polyester (METPET), Nylon, Oriented Polypropylene (OPP), and Paper Poly Foil Poly (PPFP).
Bio plastics. This broad category of plant-derived plastics and bio-plastic blends includes biopolymer packaging made from potatoes or corn. This sort of packaging material could be utilized in both hard plastic containers and in flexible packaging. As recent inventions in the packaging industry, bio plastics are touted to be both bio derived and biodegradable, although their actual biodegradability varies. Some forms of bio plastics are made up of 100 percent plant based plastic, while other so called “bio plasticsare mostly made up of petroleum based plastics and will only contain 40 percent of plant based plastics.
Cast Polypropylene (CPP). Such a thin film is popularly used in many flexible packaging applications because it is simple to engineer it, it’s inexpensive, it gives a glossy finished look to packaging, and it protects the product from high heat. Cast Polypropylene is utilized in a variety of applications, from DVD protective packaging to blister packaging. Even when wrapped tightly against a printed package and subjected to high heat, it won’t lift print. It is not derived from plant-based materials, nevertheless it is easy to recycle (although it won’t biodegrade on its own; it should be taken to a recycling facility and treated with high heat).
Polypropylene (PP) is a durable, chemically produced plastic that has been in constant use because the late 1950s. In the packaging and materials industry, Polypropylene is used to make polyester and polyester packaging. It is not very resistant to high heat, and may be damaged by direct exposure to the sun. Polypropylene is recyclable; items made with this plastic are identified with a recycling code of 5.
Nylon, a synthetic plastic, is falling out of fashion within the packaging industry because it is difficult to recycle, because it needs to be burned at very high heats to recycle it. It continues to be utilized in some packaging applications, although proponents of the green packaging movement discourage its use.
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