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Why Design Specialties? What makes us different from our competitors?

Every product in our catalog was designed because a correctional facility asked “Can you make?” All of our products are designed, tested and manufactured for the correctional environment. We have an incredible team across the board from design to manufacturing to sales with a fixation on quality and customer satisfaction. Since we have been in business since 1986, Design Specialties understands the unique customer requirements in the correctional environment. Our factory is located in Connecticut close to our sales office. We know our design engineers and operations staff. If any customer has a problem, we will ask questions so we understand the situation. Our goal is to find a solution. We work closely with chemists from plastics developers to find and test new materials. If you have an idea, we want to hear it.

How are Design Specialties insulated trays different than competitor’s products?

Most competitors’ insulated trays are manufactured with a blow molding process. Air is pumped into the mold to create a hollow tray. There is a blow hole which needs to be filled. This will always be a weak spot. To fill the tray with foam, tiny holes are drilled in the tray and liquid foam is inserted. The foam is heated with the hope it completely surrounds each compartment. You can’t see inside the tray so you don’t know. Think about a balloon. It doesn’t matter how thick the walls of the balloon. The walls are never uniform in thickness. There will always be thicker and thinner areas. Typically, the corners are the weakest area. Design Specialties, Insulated trays are manufactured with an injection molding process which injects plastic into a mold. Three pieces of the tray are produced; the top, bottom and foam for inside. We see each part to know the wall thickness is uniform and the part is precise. We assemble the tray with the top fitting into the bottom piece. We then put the tray into a machine which basically melts the top piece into the bottom piece. There are no holes to patch. We know what is inside our trays. Do you know what is inside your tray? How does the design of the tray help with temperature retention? Many of our insulated trays are designed with the hot food separated from the cold food with a flatware slot. Keeping the same temperature items together promotes better temperature retention. And when the trays are stacked, the heat rising from the tray below also helps temperature retention.

Is there a way to tell when the product was manufactured?

On the bottom of Design Specialties trays and lids is a circle. In the middle of the circle is a 2 digit number which indicates the year of manufacture. There are 12 digits around the circle with an arrow pointing to one of the digits. The arrow points to the month of manufacture.

How Can Plastic Trays be Cleaned?

We design our products to make them easier to clean. If you look on the underside of our trays, there is space between the compartments. Ribs are located so water can easily flow. Our compartments are sloped enough so food does not get stuck in the corners. Following the procedures recommended by both the dishwasher and detergent companies is essential. You must use a detergent recommended for plastic. You must use the proper amount of detergent. Throwing in extra detergent does not clean the tableware better. Your dishwasher should be serviced on a regular basis. It is important the water temperature is correct, and the jets are positioned properly. If the pressure of the jets is too strong or at a bad angle, it can harm the plastic. Think of a pressure washer used to strip paint. Because of the many chemicals in your water, dishwashers must go through a descaling procedure. These procedures must be followed carefully. If a facility does not rinse the dishwasher thoroughly after the descaling process, plastic tableware will degrade. The chemicals used to descale the dishwasher will destroy plastic.

Are Design Specialties products recyclable?

All Design Specialties, plastics can be broken down to original components. This repurposed plastic allows the plastic to be reused to keep it out of our environment. We will help you find a local plastic recycling company.

What are the advantages of reusable tableware to disposable products?

Environmentally-friendly option • Reduced waste leads to lower trash disposal costs • Cheaper long-term costs

What about compostable trays and silverware?

Compostable trays and silverware are a more environmentally-friendly option than Styrofoam trays or plastic silverware. Biodegradable items can be composted with food waste at commercial composting facilities off-site, saving valuable space in landfills. Compost is also cheaper to dispose of than trash, and trash haulers will often pass these savings on, lowering trash bills that recycle. Reusable plates and silverware are still a better option than compostable ware. Purchase and disposal of compostable ware is more expensive than using reusable items. The environmental cost of manufacturing large numbers of disposable biodegradable products can also be high. Where possible, it is best to use reusable ware.

Are disposable lids available for Design Specialties tumblers, mugs and bowls?

Small lids for tumblers, mugs and bowls are difficult to reuse. They can easily be thrown away. There are standard disposable lids available for our tumblers, mugs and bowls. Your paper supplier can help you or call your Design Specialties, salesperson.

How long will food retain temperatures both hot and cold?

Our trays are designed so the hot food is separated from the cold food for optimum temperature retention. Understanding the time to deliver the food and any weather conditions, your sales specialist will help you decide the right tray with the right delivery system. We work with all types of cart and cabinet manufacturers.

Yes we have flexible material. What are the advantages of Design Specialties XtremFlex?

Flexible material is popular in correctional facilities because it does not crack or shatter. It cannot be sharpen and made into a weapon. The material will crumble with attempts to sharpen. It is essential to find the right blend so products have all the benefits but are not too flexible. They must still perform their function. Flatware must be firm enough to pick up food. Trays and lids can’t be so flexible they lose shape in the dishwasher. Lids must stay on the tray. When trays and lids are stacked, the bottom ones should not crush.

What is the right material for your operation?

Design Specialties, Inc. offers a wide range of materials to meet your demands. Your sales specialist can help you select the right material.