What Material is Right for You? The Decision Making Process

Choosing the right material for your packaging or component needs can be a challenge.  With so many options available, the decision can often be complex, and making a wrong decision can be nothing short of expensive, time-consuming, and detrimental to your product.  To make the decision easier, our team of engineers will work with you to evaluate your application and recommend which of the many materials we have access to would be the best fit.  There are a number of critical questions you should ask yourself before making a decision and we can help you balance those considerations to find the most ideal material.

1)       What is the function of the material?

First and foremost, it is important to understand what you are trying to achieve with the material.  What is its purpose?  Choosing the right material all depends on what you need to do with it.  For example, if you simply need foam to fill a gap, reticulated polyurethane foam would not be the best choice because it tends to be more expensive as it has extremely unique properties.  On the other hand, if you needed a material for a filtration application in a lawn mower engine, reticulated polyurethane foam may be the most ideal option because of its distinctive quality as highly resistant to chemicals along with its high tensile, elongation and tear characteristics.  If you are in need of a protective packaging, are you looking for packaging that provides superior cushioning or are you in need of packaging that can accommodate different products that must be easily identified? For the former, perhaps polyurethane foam makes the most sense because it provides excellent cushioning at a very reasonable cost, and for the latter, a thermoformed plastic may be the most effective option because of its clear, plastic rigid shell that keeps products in place.  Or maybe you need a solution that offers advanced cushioning protection but is also tough and rigid?  We can achieve both properties with our unique ability to thermoform and fabricate rigid plastics with foam.

Certain materials simply make more sense for certain industries.  For instance, molded fiber is not a practical medium for medical devices that need to be manufactured in clean room environments because it tends to particulate.  On the other hand, we have an array of sterile foams, thermoplastic polyurethane films and PET plastics that are perfect for clean room manufacturers.  Perhaps a marketing department is in need of a green packaging material to help support its recyclable initiatives. In that case, molded fiber would be the immediate choice.   As you can see, the principal determining factor in choosing the ideal material all depends on its function and the specific application.

2)       What is the quantity needed?

Volume also often plays a critical role in the decision making process.  For instance, if a customer has a low volume project and they want to keep costs low, we would not recommend tooling because customized tooling can be expensive.  At the same time, we can still achieve customized results using other capabilities.  For example, our custom case inserts are CNC-machined, which makes them easily revised without tooling, providing a cost effective solution for low to medium volume applications.   Our manufacturing capabilities and capacity allow us to be extremely flexible in meeting your specific demands whether the focus be on cost, aesthetics, customization, or volume.  We will work with you to figure out what material and capability makes the most sense for your application.

3)       Are there any restrictions?

Certain applications call for very specific materials due to the requirements of the project.  For example, an electronic packaging solution often must be particulate-free as well as offer protection from electrostatic discharge (ESD).  These two requirements quickly limit the pool of available materials for this specific application.  Many aerospace and defense solutions call for foams that can withstand the elements, offering protection against moisture and chemicals, but that will not result in debris.  We have access to an array of MIL-SPEC closed-cell foams that can achieve both of these properties and are thus commonly used for packaging and component solutions for our aerospace and defense personnel.

It is our commitment to share our expert material knowledge with you in order to ensure that you make the best and most informed decision.  As a manufacturer with a material-neutral stance, we will provide you with an objective opinion for your application that is in your best interest.  For us, the first step is listening to the customer.   We will work with you to consider all of the potential possibilities and come up with that is the smartest, most effective, and most efficient solution.

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