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Getting Familiar with Cushioning Materials

Posted by TigerPak on 7/25/2021
Getting Familiar with Cushioning Materials

It is the same song-and-dance routine with just about every package people receive. Before they can get the prize inside, they must pry out all kinds of seemingly random and pointless materials. Just when they think they are done, the customer finds that the item itself is wrapped, buffered, or otherwise enclosed.

Cushioning materials may feel like a hassle to remove, but they do so much more than take up space in packages. They are the reason that goods not only survive the arduous shipping process in one piece but arrive in perfect condition. With that said, shippers and packers should make sure to use the right ones for each package. We can show you each one’s most suitable applications in this blog post.

Foam Rolls

Just about every imaginable item can benefit from some form of protection during the shipping process. With that said, certain goods need greater protection than others because they are fragile. Even the slightest bumps can result in scratching, chipping, or other forms of damage. Whether it is because of their material or construction, they need cushioning materials designed specifically for defending delicate shipments.

Foam rolls are a great solution for protecting fragile items during the shipping process. Their polyethylene wrap can contort to cover corners and curves, providing an additional layer of resistance. The material can absorb shocks, shrug off drops, and take abrasion in stride. It also keeps away moisture, dust, and other contaminants that can sneak through the gaps of wraps made from other materials.

Please note the difference between foam rolls and form sheets. The latter are thicker, and packers use them to line boxes. The former feature a thin liner that wraps around the contents of the boxes. Both can prove quite useful in combination, but foam rolls are designed to provide greater protection for fragile items.

Bubble Cushioning

Bubble cushioning is easily the most popular material among laypersons, who often treat it as a free toy. Of course, packers and shippers know that it is not just there for the customer’s delight. The beloved air bubbles are designed to counter shocks, vibrations, and other forces that may otherwise harm the package’s contents. Just remember how difficult it can be to pop them on purpose when pressing hard with your fingers.

Bubbles aside, this type of shipping wrap bears several similarities to foam rolls. It is also ideal for wrapping all over fragile goods. The wrap’s close contact poses no risk of scratching or other damage. On top of that, their flexible material makes them versatile enough to provide even and airtight enclosure on the oddest-shaped forms.

Another benefit to bubble cushioning is that they add a little extra weight to the package itself. After all, they mostly consist of air. This lightness can save on shipping costs. You do not even have to sacrifice any effectiveness to achieve these price reductions, either. Even if the package ends us being jostled around, the layers of bubble studs will serve as an excellent buffer.

Filler Pads

Not all goods will fit nicely into boxes. Photographs, paintings, documents, and other flat goods are clear examples. You cannot fold them, so you may need an unusually long box. Even if you can find one, the item would leave a lot of space.

Speaking of space, shipping vehicles only have so much capacity. It does not make sense to pay for a big box, plus space in a cargo hold when the box is almost empty. The better and more economical container for these sorts of goods is an envelope. We do not mean the kind you use for mail, but a much longer and wider one suited for flat artwork.

Likewise, the cushioning materials best suited for such containers are corrugated filler pads, also known as separators and inserts. These long, wide, thin pads tuck neatly between the items and the walls. Anything that may otherwise scratch, mark, fold, or bend the contents will instead affect the pads. They also keep sharp corners from piercing the packaging. As interior and exterior protection, you could hardly find better cushioning for flat shipments.

Packing Filler

Foam rolls and bubble cushioning both wraps around an item, and filler pads do something similar. An alternative approach is to stuff the rest of the space in the box with packing filler. This catch-all term refers to multiple small and soft objects that collectively provide similar cushioning benefits. One alone covers very little space, but many together can protect against shocks, vibrations, and abrasion.

Packing filler comes in many different forms, and each may have its own benefits that make it useful for different kinds of shipments. Here are a few examples:

  • Packaging peanuts: These goobers look like colorful peanuts, but they may be S-shaped, U-shaped, or tubular. They are designed to organically interlock inside the box, and though they feel soft to the touch, they harden when pressed. Be warned: packaging peanuts made from cornstarch may dissolve when wet.
  • Vermiculite: An inorganic material that you pour into the container like sand. The idea is to pour so much that the contents have little room to move. Its absorbent properties make it great for shipping liquids. In fact, you can use vermiculite when transporting flammable liquids, toxic waste, and other hazardous materials.
  • Paper stuffing: Even household paper can serve as packing filler in a pinch if you crumple up several sheets of different sizes. Shippers should layer them on the bottom and top, then put even more on the sides and around the contents. We would not recommend it for transporting liquids or flammable objects, but it can come in handy for many other shipments.

Cushioning Materials at Tigerpak

Tigerpak is home to a wide assortment of cushioning materials. The wraps, rolls, pads, pouches, and filler in our collection may all come in handy someday. If you have any questions about which ones are best for which shipments, you can reach out to us. If you want any of them just in case, feel free to shop in our store.