Often referred to generically as 55 gallon drums, or blue barrels, plastic drums are widely available in standard shipping sizes which are used consistently across the world. However, for specific applications, custom allowances can be made and height, dimension and weight capacity of a drum can be engineered for a unique purpose or product.
The plastic barrels can be tapered or straight depending on the intended use of the drum, and whether or not it is for transportation purposes. The drums are typically one of two basic kinds: open top or closed top. Open top drums have a removable lid which is typically connected to the cylinder of a drum with a gasket or seal to ensure an airtight fit.
They are typically used to store liquid, or solids such as powders or similarly small materials. Closed top drums have two small bung holes for access on the top of the drum and are therefore used primarily for the transportation or storage of liquids rather than solids. One hole is used to pour out the liquid, the other hole is a breather hole used to prevent the creation of a vacuum within the drum.
Depending on the substance to be transported, and the required durability of the drum structure, different plastics can be used in the construction of plastic drums. Plastics such as nylon, polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are specifically used to transport caustic and acidic materials. Plastic drums are often preferred to steel because they do not rust.
This allows them to be used for extended periods of storage without worrying about product contamination or ruining. There are a number of uses for plastic drums that are no longer required by manufacturers, or that may have acquired a small flaw. They can be used as water or rain barrels, personal composting systems or as the buoyancy components of floating docks.
Furthermore, they are commonly used as trash cans, recycling cans or for general storage. Plastic drums are a cost-effective alternative to steel drums, and they are able to be used multiple times making them more cost-effective long term than fiber drums which are typically one-use items. For those industrial drums being used for shipping or transportation purposes, rigorous testing and quality standards are required to be met to ensure consistent product quality.