Resources & Articles

Foam and Plastic Material Selection for Manufacturing Projects

Which material is the right fit for your unique contract manufacturing project needs?

Our team has been a distributor of high-quality foam and plastic for decades, working with suppliers to give you a range of options depending on your distinct needs. Whether you’re packaging medical devices, electronics, or anything in-between, there is a wide range of variables that go into material selection.

We put our years of experience to use helping you consider every crucial factor, walking you through your options, and offering recommendations to add value to your product and packaging.

To help you understand what goes into our material selection process, this resource includes:

What defines Medical Grade Foam?

When designing and manufacturing packaging for medical devices and related products, there are unique industry regulations that require important standards and practices to be followed. Because of this, selecting the right material is critical.

One of the essential components of medical-grade foam is biocompatibility, which means that the foam or plastic has been cleared for use with a range of medical packaging uses. This is done by testing and certifying the compliance of the materials with the ISO 10993 protocol.

This protocol gives you peace of mind that the material selected won’t produce a toxic or immunological response when exposed to the body or bodily fluids, which is essential when packaging for medical uses.

At Janco, our process for medical-grade foam manufacturing combines cutting-edge equipment used in state-of-the-art cleanrooms. We use only the highest-quality biocompatible materials needed to withstand repeated multiple forms of sterilization methods.

Material Selection Chart

Below, browse the plastic and foams we use most frequently in manufacturing projects to better understand their most common uses and advantages.


(Polyethylene terephthalate)
Uses: Single or multi-use trays

Advantages: Rigid, clear, easily formable, and susceptible to several modes of sterilization

HIPS (High impact polystyrene) Uses: Reservoirs, cosmetics, food & beverage packaging

Advantages: High-impact resistance

TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethanes) Uses: Medical protective packaging

Advantages: Does not particulate, scratch-resistant, ideal for sharp medical objects

PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
Kydex®, a trademarked acrylic/PVC alloy
ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)
PC (polycarbonate)
PP (polypropylene)
PS (polystyrene)
HDPE (high-density polyethylene)
Uses: Non-medical packaging

Advantages: Wide range of color and design options, short lead time (readily available), not brittle


Closed-cell polyethylene foam Uses: Medical packaging, athletic wear, case inserts, padding, insoles, etc.
Advantages: Comfortability, easily moldable, ideal for gamma sterilization, aesthetically pleasing with a range of color options, recyclable
Open-cell polyurethane foam Uses: Orthopedic positioning devices, case liner inserts

Advantages: Cost-effective, offers ideal protection for fragile products

Non-cross linked foam / TPO Foams (thermoplastic olefins) Uses: Computers and other electronic device packaging

Advantages: Cost-effective, good for larger products that require protection


If the product or packaging you need isn’t listed above, chances are we can still help. Reach out to our team to find out how we can help get your next manufacturing project started.

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Material Selection Process

Using the table above to understand common uses and advantages to each material is essential, but we’ll also work with you on every project to guarantee that you understand your options and make the best foam or plastic selection possible for your needs.

Several factors go into choosing the right material, beyond even just the advantages listed above. Sometimes, your budget and timeline are the most important indicator of which material will be right for your needs. Often, we’re looking at a combination of factors to help you decide.

In addition to the type of material that will best suit your product, it’s also important to consider:

  • Lead time
  • Design time
  • Cost
  • Manufacturability

While we often keep a wide range of materials stocked, it can occasionally take some time to get specific foams or plastics, meaning if you’re on a tight deadline, we may have to get creative to choose a material that will fit both your needs and timeline.

Likewise, if you’re working within a set budget, we’ll help you choose a cost-effective material that won’t compromise your product or packaging quality.

Frequently Manufactured Products

While we work across several industries each with unique needs, several products, in particular, are commonly manufactured in our facilities, including:

For all of the above, we work with you from start to finish, starting from the design phase through to labeling for sale.

Why choose Janco for contract manufacturing?

For decades, our team has prioritized value-add solutions designed to improve your products and packaging.

From our state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, including cutting-edge cleanroom capabilities, to the way we assist you from design through to labeling, our goal is always to make your experience as efficient and valuable as possible.

Whether you have a clearly defined idea of your design needs or require the support of our experts to select the right foam or plastic, our team will be by your side every step of the way.

Ready to get started or still have material selection questions?

Get in touch with Janco to discuss your project or find out more about our contract manufacturing capabilities and consulting. We’re happy to help bring your project to life with the customization, precision, and innovation that you need.

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