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Molded Fiber 101

Molded fiber, also known as moulded pulp or molded pulp, is a collective term descriptive of the process for producing, strong and environmentally friendly protective material. Typically made from recycled paperboard and/or newsprint it is widely used for packaging solutions. Our industry has seen a growing use of waste non-wood products such as wheat and bagasse for pulp production.

Molded Fiber Types & Applications

Molded fiber products, manufactured with wastepaper or other natural fibers (which are essentially cellulose) and are recyclable along with other wastepaper are biodegradable, and compostable where facilities are available. They can also be incinerated without damaging incinerators. Both fiber & water are recycled and reused in manufacturing, resulting in almost zero waste. There are no toxic or hazardous waste materials expelled into the environment.

Beginning Monday, July 22, we'll be launching an all-new training series on the four types of molded fiber products with videos created in-house by our industry experts! As always, members get 48-hour exclusive access to these education resources in your IMFA member portal.

MF Series Announcement

Manufactured using a single mold with product wall thickness from about 3/16 to 3/8 inches (5mm to 10mm). One surface is relatively smooth, with one side rough. Primarily used for support packaging of non-fragile, heavier items (vehicle parts; furniture, motors, etc.). As well as, plant, floral, and nursery pots and containers. Oven-dried.

Manufactured using one forming mold and one transfer mold with product wall thickness from about 1/8 to 3/16 inches (3mm to 5mm). Surfaces are relatively smooth on one side. The most common use is for egg cartons and trays. New designs are used for many types of electronic product packaging such as cell phones, DVD players, etc. Also, used for hospital disposables, electrical appliances, office equipment, tableware, and fruit and drink trays. Oven-dried.

Manufactured using multiple heated molds with a product wall thickness of about 3/32 to 5/32 inches (2mm to 4mm). Surfaces are smooth and forms are well-detailed with minimal draft angles. Products are dried in the mold and no oven curing is needed. Due to the hot mold pressing process, the walls are somewhat denser. Type-3 thermoformed fiber products closely resemble thermoformed plastic material.

This type refers to molded fiber products that require some type of secondary or special treatment other than simply being molded and cured.

Examples of Type-4 are:

  • Hot or after pressed
  • Die-cut or perforated
  • Printed
  • Colored
  • Special mold
  • Special slurry formulations
  • Embossments
  • Special design features
  • Special additives

Benefits of Molded Fiber

Inherently flexible molded fiber offers substantial benefits to manufacturers of Food related, Horticultural, Industrial and Medical products:

  • Clam shell and carryout food containers
  • Cups, bowls, plates and serving trays
  • Planter pots and seedling trays
  • Egg, fruit, berry and mushroom containers and trays
  • Vehicle Parts; gears, panels, headlights, wheels, etc.
  • Household items; toasters, coffee makers, furniture, etc.
  • Electronics, cell phones, TV, modems, DVD, etc.
  • Single use medical bowls, kidney dishes, bedpans, etc.

Molded fiber is a renewable and recyclable resource that sustains the environment and is capable of providing the following benefits:

  • Recycled pulp fiber
  • Recycled material
  • Biodegradable
  • Compostable
  • Safe for Incineration

Molded fiber’s innovative makeup delivers extensive packaging solutions including:

  • Transportation cost efficiencies (up to 10x more than polystyrene) from superior nesting capabilities
  • Completely usable with no assembly in comparison to cut and fold paper board products
  • Exempt to packaging penalties as with polystyrene in many countries.
  • Zero or negligible disposable costs, unlike it’s alternative non compostable products.

Frequently Asked Questions

Tooling

Molding

Drying

Miscellaneous

Fiber

Chemical Additives

Introduction to Molded Fiber

In early 2024 we hosted a webinar on the basics of molded fiber. This event was open to both IMFA members and nonmembers, highlighting our commitment to the industry at-large. You can watch the full recording here, and please look out for announcements on upcoming educational opportunities.

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