What Are the Types of Packing Materials?

by Tom Stewart; Updated September 26, 2017
There are several different types of packing materials you can use when shipping.

The two major concerns when shipping an item is expense and condition. Since most shipping rates are dependent upon weight, you will want to make sure that the materials used to pack your item are the most affordable ones. You don't want to add more weight to the box with your packaging materials. You don't want to compromise the safety of your item either. Saving a little money on shipping will make no sense if your item ends up broken or damaged during the shipping process. So in order to properly mail an item you want to choose from a variety of packing materials that best suits your needs for costs and safety.

Air-Filled Packaging

Air-filled packaging, more commonly known as bubble-wrap, is a sheeting material of plastic with air bubbles in between the two layers. The air bubbles act like cushions for the items in the packaging and helps protect against shock and damage. Being a lightweight material, air-filled packaging keeps shipping costs low. The thin protective sheets can have air bubbles as small as one quarter of an inch in size or as big as half an inch in size which makes wrapping your fragile items easier.

Loose Packaging

Loose packaging is basically the use of a lightweight material to fill in the gaps of your packaging to stop your items from shift or shaking. Loose packaging can be something as simple as rolled up newspaper or polystyrene peanuts, more commonly known as packaging peanuts. This type of packaging is low-cost and lightweight, but not as reliable as some other forms of packaging. Some settling can occur during shipping, leaving the items exposed or unstable. It is recommended that when you ship fragile items, you combine loose packaging with another form of packaging as well.

Foam Packaging

Foam packaging consists of a dense foam material that can be cut, formed, and shaped to fit in your container and completely surround your item. Most manufacturers will ship products with this type of material. But it is more expensive than most other forms of packing. Foam is also a bit heavier and can add to your shipping costs. It is also more time consuming to try and fit the foam perfectly around your item and into the box. However, it is a reliable shipping option for especially fragile items, as it will not settle or shift during the process.

About the Author

Tom Stewart started writing radio news, sports and entertainment scripts for live broadcast in 1992 and has worked as a producer, writer and on-air personality at several radio stations in Southern New England, including WPRO, WQSX and WKCD. He has extensive knowledge of news, sports and entertainment. Stewart studied mass communications and marketing at Rhode Island College.

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