PackSmart Blog

Void Fill & Cushioning 101

Posted by Kelly Mertins on Jan 9, 2019 1:48:24 PM

Did you know that 20% of consumers’ returns are due to damage product? (https://www.invespcro.com/blog/ecommerce-product-return-rate-statistics/). If you don’t take the time to find the best void fill/cushioning product for your application you risk losing money on the damaged product, shipping expenses and on potential repeat business. A loyal customer expects companies to use the proper packaging products.

 

Below are a few of the various void fill and cushioning options available and some information to help you determine what fits your needs:

 

Bubble Wrap – Cushioning product available in standard LDPE and anti-static. Most common bubble heights are 3/16”, 5/16” and 1/2". Single layer provides protection for short-ship/storage cycles and multi-layer barrier film is for long-ship/storage cycles. Often used to line mailers.

  • Pros: Non-abrasive, reusable (for a period of time) and easy to work with. Popping bubbles can also be satisfying to the user.
  • Cons: Large foot-print for storage, which also results in higher inbound freight costs. Not environmentally friendly. Permeable film will eventually cause bubbles to lose their air.

 

Foam Wrap – Poly foam provides cushioning and surface protection. Available in 1/32”, 1/16” 3/32”, 1/8” and 1/4” foam thickness. Standard or recycled black foam rolls.

  • Pros: Non-abrasive, reusable and moisture resistant.
  • Cons: Wrapping odd-shaped products can be more difficult with thicker foams. Large foot-print for storage, which also results in higher inbound freight costs. Standard foam isn’t environmentally friendly.

 

Kraft Paper – Made from wood pulp and can be coated with polyethylene to resist moisture and grease. Most common paper rolls sizes are 12”, 15”, 18”, 24” and 36” with paper weights of 30, 40 and 50#.

  • Pros: Natural kraft is biodegradable, recyclable and compostable. Can be used with a semi-automatic packaging system to crinkle for void fill or create a pad for cushioning. Paper rolls have a smaller foot-print for storage, which also reduces inbound freight costs.
  • Cons: Paper is more expensive than a poly based product. Without a packaging system, manually crinkling/wrapping can take more time and more product is often used than what is necessary.

 

Versa-Pak® – Multi-layered cellulose wadding that is used cushion products but will also absorb liquid.

  • Pros: Non-abrasive and easy to wrap products. Made of recycled product, reusable and recyclable.
  • Cons: More expensive than other products. Large foot-print for storage, which also results in higher inbound freight costs.

 

Air Pillow/Bubble on Demand Systems – creates air pillows (void fill) and bubble wrap (cushioning) as needed.

  • Pros: As film isn’t inflated there is a smaller foot-print for storage, which also reduces inbound freight costs. Some films are biodegradable.
  • Con: Minimum dollar/usage requirements to lease system.

 

Foam in Bag Systems – foam expands around the product you’re packaging for a custom fit cushioning mold.

  • Pros: Works with almost any application and provides the best protection as it is a perfect fit.
  • Cons: Minimum dollar/usage requirements to lease system. Drums of chemicals will have a larger storage footprint, inbound shipping expenses and require special disposal/recycling. When comparing cost per cubic foot, this is the most expensive option.

 

Our packaging experts would be happy to work with you to discuss your specific applications and direct you to the most cost-effective packaging solution!

Topics: void fill, damage in shipment, Sustainability, Go green, Packaging Expertise, Partner in Packaging

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