The ART of Packaging (Part 2)


Packaging is the art, science and technology of enclosing and protecting items, in our case, for shipping. Proper packaging is integral to the delivery of undamaged goods. Today, most packages are sorted and fed through high-speed conveyors and bar code reading systems.

Your goal is to protect the shipment from damage while conserving time and materials. This is achieved by using the smallest boxes and amount of packaging materials possible, while providing adequate protection in accordance with carrier guidelines. The guidelines in this chapter have been developed from service guides available from FedEx, UPS, DHL and USPS along with our own “hands on” approach. We will cover these guidelines in 3 parts; the next part we will cover is Inner Packaging.

Inner Packaging

While products like books, soft goods or catalogues do not require inner packaging, most items will require the use of some. Inner packaging can serve several purposes, such as, cushioning, void-fill and surface protection. Cushioning refers to protecting the item from the shock that occurs from impact (dropping the item). Void-fill refers to filling up the empty space in a box so that the object does not shift during transport. Surface protection refers to protecting delicate surfaces from scratching or other damage during transport.

The two main reasons for properly protecting your items are:

  1. So the product arrives safely.
  2. So the carriers will reimburse you for damage that does occur.

The major carriers will not pay on claims for items that were not adequately packed. Most use the ISTA test. The most important of the series of tests would be a “drop test.” Your packaged item, based on weight, should be able to withstand a drop from AT LEAST 18 inches. If properly packaged, you can be somewhat certain the product will arrive safely to its destination.

Bubble Wrap®

Bubble wrap is an extremely versatile protective material that is great for cushioning, void-fill and surface protection. When you use bubble wrap as a cushioning material, make sure that you use enough wrap to completely cover all sides and corners. You will want at least 2” of padding between your item and the walls of your box. You will also need to use enough bubble wrap or other void-fill product (i.e. loose-fill peanuts) to eliminate the movement of your item within the box. Once you have finished packing the item, shake the box to see if there is any movement. If there is, you must add more packaging material.

Foam Wrap

Foam Wrap is another versatile inner packing material. It is great for surface protection, but it also great for cushioning and void-fill. It is a very light weight, soft and resilient material, but should not be used in place of bubble wrap. It is applied to items in the same manner as bubble wrap.

Loose-fill Peanuts

Also called foam peanuts, these are commonly used for void-fill. They are not recommended for cushioning because items will tend to shift toward the exterior of the box. This makes your item much more susceptible to damage.

Foam in Place

Foam in place is the closest “stock” material that you can purchase to engineered foam. It offers excellent cushioning properties and is very versatile as it molds around the product being packaged. It is made with two different chemicals that expand around the item when mixed.

Engineered Foams

Engineered foams provide the ultimate in cushioning protection. Due to it’s cost and manufacturing process, this is usually only produced by companies producing and shipping large amounts of items (think of the end caps that computers are shipped in).

Inflatable Packaging

Inflatable packing is typically used a void-fill. These are bags of air that keep products from shifting around. They can reduce the cost of shipping and have a more professional appearance then loose-fill peanuts. However, the volume of air in each of the bags can change greatly due to temperature and altitude.

Crumpled Paper

Various types of paper can be used for void-fill or surface protection. It should NOT be used for cushioning. Kraft paper is available in a variety of base weights. This is essentially, thickness. The thicker the paper more the protection it will offer. Kraft paper should be tightly crumpled with at least 4” of product surrounding your item.

Corrugated Inserts

Corrugated cardboard is not only a great outer packaging material, but also a multi-purpose inner packaging material. It can be used to create blocks to prevent shifting within the box, or as dividers. It’s most common use is as a stiffener.

Making sure your package is protected from movement and shock during transit will ensure that your package arrives safely. Make sure to call Goin’ Postal Tallahassee at (850) 692-3130, visit us on the web at, or drive to our store at 5810 North Monroe Street, Suite 210A, Tallahassee, Florida, and we can help you package your items safely and cheaply!!!

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