Pultruded polyurethane pallets

Composite solution transforms wooden consumable into profit-generating asset.

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Wooden pallets have dominated shipping since the early 20th Century, but their tendency to splinter, warp and absorb moisture (leading to contamination) has left the door open to alternatives. Unreinforced plastic pallets reportedly lack strength and their performance suffers in both hot and cold temperatures. That’s why RM2 (Luxembourg and Chatham, NJ, US) spent US$10 million over 10 years to develop BLOCKPal pallets, made from glass fiber-reinforced polyurethane pultrusions. BLOCKPal pallets reportedly feature high impact resistance, a high strength-to-weight ratio and minimal creep, and perform well from -20°C to 80°C. Further, they meet ISO 8611 standards, use US Federal Drug Admin. (FDA, Washington, DC, US)-compliant materials and have passed the UL 2335 “Fire Test of Storage Pallets” without the use of controversial chemical fire retardants. RM2 estimates that BLOCKPal pallets are up to 20 times more durable than wooden pallets. During independent tests at the Virginia Tech Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design (Blacksburg, VA, US), the BLOCKPal pallet achieved a pooled pallet rating of 1,633 kg, with a safety factor of 2. As a result, RM2 not only sells BLOCKPal pallets, but also rents them and offers radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking:  What was once a one- or two-trip consumable is now a real asset.

BLOCKPal pultrusions are made using Baydur PUL 2500 two-part polyurethane resin from Bayer MaterialScience LLC (Pittsburgh, PA, US). Bayer also provided pultrusion tooling, part design recommendations, material enhancements and support.  

RM2 pultrudes three basic profiles: feet, slats and channels. It paints the feet a distinctive yellow, applies an anti-skid coating and assembles the pultrusions into four standard pallet sizes as well as bespoke sizes for specialized applications. 

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