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Package cushioning is used to help protect fragile items during shipment. It is not uncommon for a transport package to be dropped, kicked, and impacted: These events may produce potentially damaging shocks. Transportation vibration from conveyors, trucks, railroads, or aircraft can also damage some items. Shock and vibration are controlled by cushioning so that the chance of product damage is greatly reduced.
Cushioning is usually inside a shipping container such as a corrugated box. It is designed to deform or crush to help keep levels of shock and vibration below levels that which may damage the product inside the box. Depending on the specific situation, package cushioning can often be between two and three inches thick.
Internal packaging materials (sometimes the same ones used for cushioning) are also used for functions other than cushioning. Some are used just to immobilize the products in the box and to block them in place. Others are just used to fill a void and do not have a cushioning function.
Molded expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) cushioning
1 Design factors
2 Common Types of Cushioning
3 Design for Shock Protection
4 Design for Vibration Protection
5 Evaluation of Finished Package
6 See also
7 ASTM Standards
9 Further reading
10 External links
When designing packaging, the choice of cushioning may depend on many factors:
effective protection of product from shock and vibration
whether cushioning is resilient (performs for multiple impacts)
resistance to creep cushion deformation under static load
labor costs, productivity
effects of temperature , humidity, and air pressure on cushioning
cleanliness of cushioning (dust, insects, etc)
effect on size of external shipping container
environmental and recycling issues
sensitivity of product to static electricity.
Common Types of Cushioning
Loose Fill - Some cushion products are flowable and are packed loosely around the items in the box. The box is closed to tighten the pack. This includes expanded polystyrene foam pieces (Foam peanuts), similar pieces made of starch based foams, and common Popcorn.
Paper - Paper can be manually or mechanically wadded up and used as a cushioning material. Heavier grades of paper provide more weight bearing ability than old newspapers. Creped cellulose wadding is also available.
Corrugated fiberboard pads - Multi-layer or cut-and-folded shapes of corrugated board can be used as cushions. These structures are designed to crush and deform under shock stress and provide some degree of cushioning. Honeycomb paper structures are also used for cushioning.
Foam structures - Several types of polymeric foams are used for cushioning. The most common are: Expanded Polystyrene (also Styrofoam), polypropylene, polyethylene, and polyurethane. These can be molded engineered shapes or sheets which are cut and glued into cushion structures.
Foam-in-place is another method of using polyurethane foams. These fill the box, fully encapsulating the product to immobilize it. It is also used to form engineered structures.
Inflated Products - Bubble Wrap consists of sheets of plastic film with enclosed ubbles of air. These sheets can be layered or wrapped around items to be shipped. Engineered inflated structures are also available. Note that inflated air pillows used for void-fill are not suited for cushioning.
Molded pulp -
Molded pulp cushioning
Pulp can be molded into shapes suitable for cushioning and for immobilizing products in a package. Molded pulp is made from recycled newspapers and is recyclable.
Other - Several other types of cushioning are available including suspension cushions, thermoformed end caps, and shock mounts.
Design for Shock Protection
Proper performance of cushioning is dependent on its proper design and use. It is often best to use a trained packaging engineer, reputable vendor, consultant, or independent laboratory. An engineer needs to know the severity of shock (drop height, etc) to protect against. This can be based on an existing specification, published industry standards and publications, field studies, etc.
Knowledge of the product to be packaged is critical. Field experience may indicate the types of damage previously experienced. Laboratory analysis can help quantify the fragility of the item, often reported in g-s. Engineering judgment can also be an excellent starting point. Sometimes a product can be made more rugged or can be supported to make it less susceptible to breakage.
The amount of shock transmitted by a particular cushioning material is largely dependent on the thickness of the cushion, the drop height, and the load bearing area of...(and so on)
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