Custom Thermoforming Experts




shattered plastic

At this time of year when the days are shorter, the nights are longer and the temperatures drop to uncomfortably low numbers, package engineers are faced with these questions:

  • What is the lowest temperature my package will be exposed to and for how long?
  • How do my raw materials stack up against others for cold weather resistance?
  • Is the efficacy / functionality / potency of my product being impacted by the cold and the packaging materials being used?
  • Am I using the correct test methods to determine shipping and handling of my product in cold weather?

Ken Silverman from Rochester Institute of Technology published his thesis in 2012 “Temperature Mapping Study of the United States Distribution System” and found that temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit could occur for periods as long as 89 hours during transit.

With the realization that your packaging could be exposed these temperatures, it is important to know the performance of different materials and their “cold crack temperature”, or performance under test method  ASTM D1790 – 14   or ISO 8570:1991(en).

Results of your packaging film of choice may give you some concerns or provide you with some comfort, depending on your use, area of the country your company services, as well as other factors.

Cold Crack Temperatures of Common Materials

PVC 23 F
PP 23 F
HIS -22 F
PET -40 F
HDPE -90 F

PVC / PP – Clearly represent some risk as they do not perform well when exposed to impact at low temperatures.  Polypropylene does have an additive to enhance performance, but in its natural state it is not a great performer in the cold.  You may want to consider additional testing under cold conditions (shipping, vibration, handling).

HIS / PET – Solid materials that perform well in cold conditions.  Cold crack temperatures fall well below the recording findings for trailer temperatures, though the more cold the materials are, the more inclined they are to break when subjected to impact.

HDPE – The most resistant to cold at -90 F.


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