In our last post we discussed the three different styles of plastic pallets: nestable, rackable, and stackable. In today’s post we will explore the attributes of nestable plastic pallets, which are typically made utilizing a nine leg design with nine corresponding recesses in the top deck of the pallet to accommodate the feet of the next pallet allowing them to “nest” together when empty. Nestable plastic pallets are available in a wide range of capacity from 2,000 lbs. up to 10,000 lbs., and offer the added benefit of significant cost savings on freight because their nestable nature enables more pallets to fit in a truckload. On average we can ship 2,100 nestable pallets on a 53’ trailer compared to 540 rackable pallets. Regardless of where the customer might be those savings can add up very quickly.
Nestable Plastic Pallets Durability
Another major consideration when purchasing nestable plastic pallets is durability. The durability of a plastic pallet comes down to three factors: the manufacturing process, the type of material, and the amount of material used to make each pallet. It may be self-evident to most that a 75 lbs. pallet will be more durable than a 15 lbs. pallet, but what many do not consider is the effect material type can have on durability. Comparing two pallets of similar weight but different material will yield surprisingly different results in durability – and cost.
Nestable Plastic Pallets Materials
The two types of material used in the production of plastic pallets are PE (Polyethylene) and PP (polypropylene), with PE being the most predominant material and PP coming in a distant second. Some plastic pallets are made with a combination of high and low density polyethylene and that can make a tremendous difference in the ability of the pallet to hold up to the rigors of daily use. This combination is often referred to as ACM and produces an economical pallet ideally suited for one-way export shipments. Whereas a pallet made entirely with HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) will be a more robust pallet able to withstand the harsh environment of a busy warehouse, a careless forklift operator, or the back-and-forth demands of a closed-loop system.
Nestable Plastic Pallets Manufacturing Methods
The manufacturing method is equally critical to the durability of a plastic pallet. The five main types of plastic pallet manufacturing processes are listed here from least- to most-durable with each process reflecting the inversely proportional relationship between cost and durability:
- Injection molding: Heated material is forced into a mold where it cools and hardens to the configuration of the mold cavity.
- Structural foam molding: A blowing agent creates a cellular structure while a rigid skin forms.
- Rotational molding: A heated hollow mold is filled with plastic resin and slowly rotated (usually around two perpendicular axes) causing the softened material to disperse and stick to the walls of the mold.
- Compression molding: Plastic resin is placed in a heated mold cavity. The mold is closed and pressure is applied to force the material into contact with all mold areas. Heat and pressure are maintained until the molding material has cured.
- Vacuum formed molding: A sheet of plastic is heated, stretched onto a single-surface mold, and forced against the mold by a vacuum.
As you can see, deciding between rackable, stackable, and nestable pallets is just the first step. The sales team at Plastic Pallet and Container is available to help our customers navigate the sometimes complex process of identifying the appropriate plastic pallet for their application. Next time let’s explore the attributes of the stackable and rackable pallets!