Polystyrene Boxes - A Guide
Polystyrene is a common material used in packaging, as it is shock absorbent and economical. Polystyrene boxes are good insulators and can be moulded into almost any shape.
There are two main types of polystyrene foam: expanded and extruded. Expanded polystyrene foam is lighter and cheaper than extruded polystyrene. Extruded foam has a smoother surface and better insulation properties. Both types of polystyrene are often used in house insulation.
Expanded polystyrene foam is created by heating solid beads of polystyrene with steam. These beads are mixed with other chemicals before steaming. These chemicals enhance the expansion of the polystyrene beads. The beads expand up to 40 times larger than the original polystyrene bead, and contain roughly 90% air.
Extruded polystyrene foam is created by melting solid polystyrene and other additives in an extruder. It is melted into a plastic fluid, and then forced through a die. The die determines the shape of the product, but this can then be trimmed to further specifications. This process creates foam with a smoother surface than expanded polystyrene foam.
Both extruded and expanded polystyrene foams can be used in house insulation. Expanded polystyrene insulation is cheaper, although extruded polystyrene foam has slightly better insulating properties. Both forms of insulation need additional fire protective coating, and do degrade in sunlight and extremely high temperatures.
Styrofoam is a form of extruded polystyrene foam, and is used for house insulation. However, the brand-name is so commonplace that it is often used to describe all other foamed polystyrene products, although this is not technically correct.
High Impact Polystyrene
Polystyrene can be mixed with a rubber to create a material which is less brittle than traditional polystyrene. This is known as high impact polystyrene, or high impact plastic. This has better shock absorbent qualities than expanded and extruded polystyrene.
Polystyrene boxes are used to protect and transport a large range of goods. They are used in the food and medical industries, due to their cheap cost and good insulating properties. Polystyrene boxes are also hygienic as they do not support bacterial growth.
Polystyrene fish boxes are used to help maintain the correct temperature for the transport of fish. Fish need to be kept at the temperature of melting ice to keep them fresh, and polystyrene fish boxes help to guard the fish against changes in outside temperature.
Polystyrene packaging helps to keep food fresh. It has been shown that fruit and vegetables maintain higher levels of vitamin C when transported in polystyrene packaging. Food spoilage is also reduced in polystyrene packaging, due to the insulation properties keeping the food at the correct temperature.
Polystyrene packaging is also used to protect goods in transport, including electronic components and office equipment. Polystyrene can be moulded into almost any shape, which makes it ideal for use in automated packaging processes. The high shock absorbance can also protect expensive goods from damage.
Polystyrene beads, also known as packing peanuts, are small nut-shaped pieces of polystyrene used to protect goods. Polystyrene beads are cheap to buy, and are reusable. They are not recommended for use when packaging heavy goods, as the goods tend to migrate to the bottom of the box. They are however ideal for filling any voids in the packaging of lighter goods.