Wooden pallets were the first portable platforms used for moving, storing and protecting goods in warehouses and for transport. As of 2010, the market records the use of mostly wood pallets, but plastic pallets are gaining momentum. Metal pallets are the most expensive to produce. The use of corrugated paperboard, plastics and hybrid pallets provide an option for businesses when wood or metal is not the most effective choice for their needs.
Assembly is easy and inexpensive but varies according to the cost of the wood. Birch, pine or oak wood, threaded nails and staples are the needed materials. Measurements are usually a standard 48 inches long by 40 inches wide.
Stringer pallets are two-way pallets of two or more boards on the top and bottom attached to blocks of wood. Block pallets have three upper and lower boards attached to nine blocks of wood for forklift entry.
Lighter than wood, plastic pallets are a moulded product made of plastic resin. Injection moulding heats and liquefies resin material, then injects it into a mould. Compression moulding is a method that empties resin pellets into a moulding chamber, applies heat, and forces the resin to take the shape of the mould. They are more expensive to produce than wood pallets.
Metal pallets are used in temperatures where other pallets would burn or melt. They are made of aluminium or steel and cost more to manufacture than other types of pallets. They are made by heating metal, pouring into a mould and forming, a one-piece structurally sound pallet, good for supporting heavy loads.
Corrugated paperboard is made from a complex process using wood pulp and steam to form it. A pallet made from this product is not as sturdy nor can it be exposed to moisture. The basic construction of this pallet type is a layering and bonding process. A base platform, slats and spacer blocks are assembled to make the pallet. Their lightweight makes them a preferred pallet for air freight.
Hybrid pallets are made from two or more unlike materials, such as wood fibres and plastic resin. A composite material such as this can be moulded or extruded into boards to create a pallet that looks like plastic.
Panel deck pallets, which are preferable when using automated equipment, are flat-top pallets made of this composite. However, they are expensive to produce.