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Jargon Buster - a guide to the language around plastic packaging

Like all industries, plastic packaging has terminology that can be baffling. With that in mind, we offer here our guide to some of the words and phrases you might come across and wonder 'Now what on earth can that mean?'

If you know of others you think we should add, please drop us a line! 

Angled neck bottle
Bottle with angled neck, usually used for toilet cleaner.
Anti back-off bars
Vertical bars across the neck threads that increase the release torque to reduce back-off (unintentional slackening of closures/dispensers).
Anti back-off neck
Neck design to reduce the incidence of unintentional slackening of closures/dispensers.
Anti-bac bottle
Generally a rectangular bottle intended for use with hand soap.
Application torque
Torque (rotational force) needed to apply a closure/dispenser and form a seal. As a rough guide divide the neck diameter by 2 for Lb·in (pound force foot) or multiply by 0.06 or multiply by 0.06 for N·m (Newton metres). . 
Atomiser
Alternatively 'mist spray' or 'finger spray.' Compact form of fine spray dispenser used on small bottles. 
Blank plug
Solid neck plug with no orifice.
Blow pin
Component of bottle tooling that forms the inside of the neck and carries the air used to blow the molten plastic out to the tool. 
Bore seal
Vertical element within a closure forming the seal against the inside of the bottle neck to prevent leakage.
Boston
Cylindrical bottle with a rounded shoulder, (term originates from glass bottles). 
Breather cap
Closure with vents to allow gas to escape (see also 'vented closure').
Bucket
Large tub with handle, see also pail. 
Cavitation
Number of cavities in a tool (mould), one bottle per cavitation is produced per machine cycle. 
Cavity
Machined section of the tool (mould), forms the shape of the bottle. 
Child resistant
Closure or packaging combination designed to be resistant to being opened by children
Climbing
Tendency of some bottles to ride up the one in front on the filling line. Can be designed out. 
Crab's claw seal
Type of bore seal.
CRC
Child resistant closure.
De-flash mask
Profiled steel tool used to remove the flash (see below) from bottles immediately after blowing. 
Dip tube
Tube that carries the liquid product up to a trigger head/mist spray/lotion pump.
Directional fliptop
Fliptop allowing liquid to be dispensed at an angle to the bottle.
Disctop
Dispensing closure using a pivoting circular upper section.
Doser
Commonly, a bottle that allows for metered dosage of a concentrated product. 
Duck neck
Angled neck bottle.
Ecycle
Cambrian's label for rHDPE.
EPE
Expanded polyethylene - one of the materials used for wads in closures. 
Falcon pump
High capacity lotion pump, usually dosing 4ml per action.
Fine mill
Fine vertical lines on a closure to give grip when applying/removing.
Finger grips
Design feature on some spray bottle necks. 
Finger spray
See also mist spray - compact spray dispenser.
Flapper cap
Wide dispensing closure with numerous holes for dispensing powder, closed with a flap. 
Flash
Waste material on bottles, removed by the de-flash mask. 
Flask
Typically a shaped bottle used with a trigger head.
Fliptop
Dispensing closure with hinged circular cap.
Fluorination
Post-production treatment of HDPE by flooding with fluorine gas to increase the chemical resistancy. 
Foamer
Dispenser that produces a foam; used when the liquid needs to cling to the surface. Can be a pump or trigger type. 
HDPE
High density polyethylene. See also rHDPE.
Heavy ribbed
Marked vertical ribbing to give grip when applying/removing closures.
IBC
International bulk container. HDPE tank surrounded in a steel cage, usually 1000 litre capacity. 
Induction heat seal 
Foil seal across the top of a bottle neck, adhesion via induction heat. 
Industrial trigger head
Larger, more robust trigger head designed for industrial applications or professional use.
Jerrican
Bulk container, 1000ml to 30 litres.
Label area
Area of bottle intended for application of labels or (sometimes) screen print. 
Landing
Flat area at the top of a bottle neck. Area where the seal is formed when using a plain or wadded cap.
LDPE
Low density polyethylene.
Liner
See 'wad'.
Long plane
Longer dimension of a shaped bottle base.
Lotion pump
Dispenser for gels/lotions; operates on a vertical bellows principle.
Mandrel
Device for gripping and orientating a bottle during the screen printing process.
Masterbatch
Colouring agent used to colour plastic.
Mini trigger
Small trigger head, usually 24/410 neck.
Mist spray
See also 'finger spray' - compact spray dispenser.
Modular pail
Range of pails that have the same base dimension, capacity being added by extra height. 
Mould
Stainless steel or aluminium block with a shaped cavity, largest part of the bottle tooling. 
Mould line
Also known as the 'seam.' Thin vertical line seen on the finished bottle formed by the junction of the two halves of the tool. 
Natural
Inherent colour of HDPE with no colour added; gives a translucent finish.
Neck knife
Device used to slice off the top of the bottle neck immediately after blowing. 
Pail
Large tub with handle, see also 'bucket'. 
Parison
Tube of molten plastic extruded into the mould during the blow moulding process.
PCR
Post consumer recycled: Material recovered post consumer use, graded and chopped, allowing it to be used in blow moulding. See also rHDPE.
Pelican pump
Large lotion pump, usually dosing 30ml per action.
PET
Polyethylene terephthalate - clear plastic material. Can be coloured.
PET-G
Polyethylene terephthalate - glycol modified. 
Plascan
Generic name for a rectangular bottle (such as Cambrian's 'Brecon' bottle). 
Poly
UN certified jerrican.
Poly bottle
Standard cylindrical bottle, 45° shoulder.
Polymer
Beads of plastic that are melted down and pumped to the tool to form bottles. 
Polytop
Dispensing closure with central hinged bar.
PP
Polypropylene. Also used to denote 'pilfer proof' when applied to tamper evident closures.
Pre-compression
Type of valve design improving trigger head atomisation performance. 
Preform
Injection moulded neck and base tube. Initial stage of two in blow moulding of PET bottles. 
Print ramp
Also known as 'registration mark'. Concave device on the base of bottles allowing for correct registration (alignment) when screen printing bottles.
Probe
Tubular component of an automated filling machine that carries the liquid and enters the neck of the bottle. 
Puck
Device used on some filling lines to hold bottles in position. 
PVC
Polyvinyl Chloride - clear material. Now subject to environmental concerns. 
Ratchet neck
Bottle neck including a partial ratchet at the base. Used with matching closure to prevent removal of the closure/dispenser.
Registration mark
See 'print ramp'.
Re-grind
Plastic production waste ground up to be re-used. 
Release torque
Torque needed to remove a closure/dispenser. Typically 40-80% of application torque. 
rHDPE
Recycled HDPE - a high-quality PCR. Cambrian products made of rHDPE are labelled 'Ecycle'.
Screen printing
Printing technique sometimes used to decorate cylindrical containers (NB only possible on cylindrical shapes such as bottles and tubs).
Seam
See 'mould line'. 
Secondary helix
One option for creating an anti back-off neck; an additional small thread between the main threads. 
Shingling
Tendency on poorly designed bottles to block feeds when on a filling line. Can be designed out. 
Shive
Thin plastic liner sometimes used under the lids of jars. 
Short plane
Shorter dimension of a shaped bottle base.
Single hole plug
Neck plug with single small orifice.
Siphon pump
Simple fluid transfer device working on the siphon principle. Usually used on jerricans or drums. 
Sleeving
Decoration of bottle using a printed sleeve shrunk onto the bottle. Usually applied prior to filling. 
Snap on
Type of neck form allowing dispensers to be pressed on without any screw action.
Spout
Soft pointed closure; cut to allow product to be dispensed.
Squeeze-Lok cap
Child resistant closure using a squeeze method to allow removal
Stacker
Term sometimes used for a UN certified jerrican.
Swipe
Standard cylindrical bottle, 45° shoulder.
Swirl
Waisted bottle (similar to Cambrian's 'Snowdon').
Tamper evident
Seal that when unbroken proves the packaging hasn't been opened. Various forms according to application. 
TE
Tamper evident.
Tool
Alternative term for 'mould'.
Top loading
Term for the force applied to the top of a bottle either by a snap-on dispenser fitting or generated by stacked finished products. 
Touch points
Points at which bottles touch each other when on an in-line filling conveyor. Attention to these at the design stage ensures good filling line performance. 
Tri tab
Type of induction heat seal - usually found on food products.
Trigger head
Dispenser using a trigger action to spray liquid.
TS1
Type of snap-on neck.
Tub
Small cylindrical pail with no handle.
Twin-walled closure
Closure with wider aspect to lend a tubular look. The inner wall seals the contents while the outer wall Only suitable with selected bottles. 
UN certified
Container has been tested to certain UN standards for transport by air or surface freight.
Vented closure
Closure with vents to allow gas to escape, see also breather cap.
Wad
Flat material applied into closures to increase the sealing ability. Also known as 'liner'.
Waisted bottle
Bottle having a narrower section to give grip, usually 3/4 up the bottle (such as Cambrian's 'Snowdon' bottle). 
Waterway
Water circulation ports in a tool facilitating cooling. 
Witches hat spout
Triangular soft spout often used for dispensing glue.