Consistent avoidance of transport damage

There are several tried and tested ways of securing sensitive and/or expensive items in freight packaging in order to protect the contents.

In order to avoid transport damage when shipping goods of all kinds, the often significantly larger shipping packages are padded and any gaps or empty spaces are filled in. Paper, air pouches and foamed materials are chiefly used for this purpose. However, such basic protection is not always sufficient for very sensitive and/or expensive articles. Then reliable protection materials are required, which also safeguard the goods against compression, vibrations and shocks due to falling.

In the electronics industry, for example, customized polystyrene forms which ensure that the products are already located firmly in their outer packaging are favored for bulk goods, such as TV sets. Such a tight fit is also guaranteed by precisely fitting wedges made of single, double or triple-wall corrugated board, which is sometimes also resistant to wetting. These often one-piece, pre-glued packaging solutions serve as fixing inserts to secure products during transport.

Paper solutions are considered sustainable

Pre-cut fittings serve as an alternative to corrugated board. For this purpose, padding plates laminated from corrugated board rolls are produced in the required heights and paper thicknesses. From the multi-layer sheets produced in this way, cardboard padding is then cut to the product size. According to Antalis Verpackungen GmbH, one of the major suppliers of packaging materials, machinery and solutions, companies that attach importance to sustainability in this area are increasingly opting for such paper-based solutions.

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Wrapping film is used in combination with elements made of corrugated board when products with very different shapes are to be fixed in place. For this purpose, they are placed on a corrugated cardboard “tray”, and then wrapped completely in elastic plastic film. Antalis‘ „twistpac system“, for example, performs this work mechanically and semi-automatically within 15 seconds.

Membrane padding is not only visually appealing

Corrugated board and films are also combined to form “membrane cushion packaging”, which is available on the market for instance under the names ‚Korrvu‘, ‚varioswing‘ or ‚embaswing‘. Products are fixed between two film-covered corrugated board frames and packaged to look as if they are „floating“. As Antalis says, “ sensitive goods too, weighing between a few grams and around 30 kilograms, can be protected safely against transport stresses“. Even in the case of multiple impacts, this protection method can absorb shocks and vibrations well, as the flexible and tear-resistant polyethylene or polyurethane films cling to the respective product and hold it in position.

However, of all the fastening and protection materials, at least in terms of drop test results and flexibility, two-component polyurethane-based foam seems to be clearly ahead of the others as a protective packaging solution. The foam is drop-resistant, impact-resistant and pressure-resistant. It can also be used for custom-fit packaging of articles of different sizes, shapes and weights. Two applications are available here – on the one hand, prefabricated single bags in different standard or customized sizes, and on the other hand, mechanically-filled bags with a fixed width and individually determinable length and volume depending on the required measurements.

Two-component foam offers optimal protection

In the prefabricated bags, the two chemical components – usually polyol and polyisocyanate – are separated from each other by a barrier. This barrier can be breached manually by pressure and then the mixture expands about 27-fold. Due to the expansion of the foam, the bags adapt almost completely to the contours of the respective products. If an object is placed/pressed into the expanding bottom bag and covered with another bag, the product is virtually completely enclosed.

The mechanically-dimensioned, individually dimensionable bags , with foam that has many selectable degrees of hardness depending on the mixing ratio, are safer and even more flexible. Here a machine fills a tubular film (from a roll) with the two heated and mixed components in line with the specifications and produces a bag by subsequent sealing. Depending on the component mixture, the bag then expands – in the case of the „Instapak“ product,to up to 280 times its original size in on average 30 seconds, known as the „rising time“.

According to Antalis, the lowest degree of hardness is used to fill empty spaces and cavities, so that for example packages are not crushed together when stacked. Medium-hard and very hard foam materials on the other hand offer optimal protection for very delicate/sensitive or expensive goods. As examples of these Antalis mentions medical equipment (parts) or (antique) works of art.  It is known, for instance, that the Dorotheum auction house in Vienna ships valuable and delicate exhibits in two-component foam bags.