The function of cushion packaging
Cushion packaging functions as protective packaging so that products will reach their final destination in good condition. For example, loose fill which is usually in the form of foam peanuts made from expanded polystyrene foam provides a layer of protection by filling all the empty areas inside the product container. Packaging peanuts are environmentally friendly because they break down naturally after disposal or they can be reused for another packaging purpose. Cushion packaging is used for electronics and tools as well as products for daily use because they stop items from shifting during handling and transport.
Making a choice for cushion packaging
The first step in designing a protective packaging solution is to choose the most appropriate type of cushion material for the application. For example, paper and tissue were the typical packaging materials used for breakables and fragile items until the introduction of bubble sheets with the higher levels of protection. Since prevention of movement is the objective of cushion packaging, foam structures made from expanded polystyrene, polypropylene, polyurethane or polyethylene are cut and glued to fully encapsulate the product. Foam inserts can also be used as cushioning material and to achieve a high level of protection, the inserts must be customized to exactly fit the package used. Many options are possible according to the fragility of the product, the shocks and vibrations to which it will be subjected to and the value of the product packed.
Ideally a step by step process is required to determine the fragility of the product, the conditions for handling and the environment to which the product will be exposed to as well as the amount of shock that the product will face. Simulations or real life testing are recommended to assess both constraints and performance requirements.
The importance of design in cushion packaging
Design of cushion packaging is another challenge and it has to achieve two fundamental functions: to ensure that a product is delivered to a customer in perfect condition and to address aesthetics so that it can be used for sales promotion. Design plays a critical role because it should serve as a marketing tool because consumers today also consider the type of packaging for the product. It is no longer enough for a product to be boxed and sealed; it should encourage the consumer to buy the product. However, it is not enough to have an outstanding package; it must also be suitable to the product. For example, a consumer who buys a high-end laptop expects that the packaging will provide the highest level of protection particularly when shipped overseas but at the same time it must increase the product’s appeal.