Seven Great Ways to Package Your Breakables

Reading Time: 4 minutes

In the digital marketplace, you have the opportunity to reach out and sell to anyone in the world in possession of a computer, tablet or smartphone and an internet connection. Getting anything delivered to anyone in the world is another matter entirely, however, and if your product is something fragile or easily breakable, you may be nervous about whether it will reach your customer in one piece.

A poorly packaged parcel means that it need only take one incautious bit of handling, slip of the fingers or careless courier, and then you could have a problem.

Naturally, nothing can be guaranteed to protect against every single possibility for damage – if your courier decides to back his 10-ton lorry over your parcel, for example, then no amount of packaging is going to stop some pretty serious damage occurring. But choose your packaging carefully, and use it properly, and you’ll give yourself the best chance of a successful delivery and a happy customer.

If you go to the Protective Packaging section on Davpack’s website, the number of options you’ll find on offer can be pretty intimidating if you’re not sure where to start. Here then, is a quick guide to the very best options to ensure your parcel stays safe, no matter where in the world you send it.

1 A strong box
Okay, this should be obvious, but it’s amazing how many people think they can get away with the cheapest one they can find. Something strong enough to withstand everyday courier treatment, without collapsing in on itself and crushing whatever is within. And if you’re mailing abroad, make it even stronger!

2 Bubble Wrap
Probably still the first thing many people turn to when they know they need to wrap something that could get broken in transit, bubble wrap has acquired its status probably as much for the fun people have popping the bubbles afterwards as for its protective qualities. But don’t let that detract from its very real benefits. It comes in two main varieties, those being rolls with small or large bubbles; the large bubbles give greater protection, but as a result of the size of the bubbles, this variety is a little less flexible, and so not suited to smaller items. The smaller bubbles are ideal for just about anything, as the film is easier to wrap around most objects.

The main problem with bubble is the room you need to store it if you’re using it in large quantities; also, although it’s brilliant at what it does, it doesn’t double up as void fill, so you might well need further packaging to stop the wrapped product shifting about in transit.

3 Packing Peanuts
Like bubble wrap, this is a longstanding favourite, and with very good reason. It’s primarily used as void fill, but is soft enough to nicely cushion whatever it’s filling the space around. The key selling point, however, is the way the individual pieces interlock with each other as they settle in the box, which means that they hold the parcel’s contents securely in place, further reducing the potential for damage.

Packing peanuts used to be made of raw polystyrene, and take years to degrade after use, making them something of a bête noire with environmentalists. These days, many versions – including ours! – are made out of 100% recycled materials, and pretty much all are fully biodegradable, making them not just an effective protective solution, but an environmentally friendly one as well.

Also just like bubble wrap, packing peanuts are very bulky to transport and store – we supply them in 425-litre bags, and it doesn’t take too many of them to fill the average delivery van!

4 Foam Packaging
Technically, packing peanuts count as foam packaging, because ‘foam’ is basically pockets of air trapped in a liquid or solid – bubble wrap doesn’t count, because the air pockets in a foam are disordered. One of my colleagues went into this in a great deal more detail in an earlier blog.

In packaging terms, however, it’s used to describe two particular groups of products. Foam rolls or sheets are much like bubble wrap, but softer, lighter and more flexible, offering an abrasion-free solution, particularly good for layering between flat items to stop them rubbing together.

The other kind of foam packaging in this group is ‘egg box’ style, usually used for lining postal boxes and the like, and especially good when mailing delicate electronics.

5 Air Cushion Packaging
This has all the advantages of bubble wrap and packing peanuts, but an extra bonus in that it takes up a great deal less space, making it cheaper to transport and a lot easier to store. That’s because you use a special machine to put the air (the stuff that usually takes up most of the space) in when, and only when, you actually need it. You get different profiles to suit a number of different packaging jobs, such as layering and interleaving, wrapping, void fill, block and brace, etc. Best of all is that if you’re currently using bubble or peanuts in any serious quantity, you could save a considerable amount of money by making the switch. You can see the numbers crunched for you by clicking here.

6 Kraft Paper
The first things you think of when you see a sheet of brown kraft paper are the sort of traditional wrapping paper and paper bags used by stores in the good old days before plastic bags. But brown paper packaging also makes superb void fill, and can be used exceptionally quickly and cost effectively when cut and scrunched up by special machines, like the PackTiger, available from Davpack and demonstrated in the video below:

You probably don’t want to use it with things that can easily get scratched, because this is strong paper with a sharp edge – and if you’ve suffered from a paper cut, you’ll know just how sharp that can be! But if it’s a reliable way of holding something securely in the middle of a box, away from the bumps and knocks every parcel is likely to suffer at some point in its journey, you can’t do much better.

7 Instapak Foam
Okay, so this is another foam packaging solution, but this is different enough to warrant its own section. It’s certainly not the cheapest option, but if you’re looking to safely package valuable items, this looks great and is superbly effective. It’s also probably our cleverest bit of protective packaging – when you press a button, it self inflates around your product, enveloping it in a soft but firm casing, and only coming to a halt when it reaches the lid of your carton. You can see how it works for yourself on this video:

What’s your tried and trusted way of making sure your breakables reach your customer safely and in one piece? And what’s the worst thing that’s happened to one of your parcels – something that couldn’t have been stopped with all the protective packaging in the world? Leave your comments below!

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Rick Stanford

Rick has been a salesman in the packaging supplies business for more than thirty years. Now semi-retired, he divides his time between tending his allotment in north Devon, getting depressed at the continuing travails of his home-town football club Macclesfield Town, and sharing his considerable experience and knowledge with the readers of the Davpack blog. Davpack

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