Tote Maker Differentiates with Impact Modification

Improved performance, reduced weight contribute to $500,000 in annual savings

The Challenge

Making large, clear storage totes may seem like a simple enough business. But when the designers for a well-known manufacturer planned their next generation product, they knew that to capture more market share they needed to make the totes stronger.

The new container, to be made from an impact-modified polypropylene, needed good sidewall stiffness and excellent impact resistance. It also needed to have high clarity, which created a significant problem: existing materials provided clarity, but not the necessary stiffness.

The Solution

The design team reached out to long-term supplier Avient GLS Thermoplastic Elastomers to help develop a customized solution. Teams from both companies worked closely to understand the specific property needs, and then searched for an impact modifier solution that the manufacturer could readily blend into polypropylene at the molding machine.

They selected a TPE-based impact modifier that could be used at a loading level five percentage points below the current material while still meeting all of the performance requirements, including higher stiffness. Thanks to the improved stiffness, the manufacturer was able to redesign the tote to reduce the sidewall thickness. That lowered the total weight by 5% while preserving physical property performance.

In addition, the manufacturer was able to operate at a slightly faster cycle time and with a reduced scrap rate.

The Impact

The lighter weight and stiffer walls of the redesigned tote helped the manufacturer to differentiate its product and gain market share.

In addition, the more efficient impact modifier saved the company nearly $40,000 a year in processing costs. In addition, reducing the tote wall thickness resulted in a savings of about $470,000 a year, based on reduction in material usage and lower unit costs for fuel to transport products to retailers.