- Filler Chipboard inserts: These are used when the product is needed to be slightly raised inside the box by placing the foam underneath. Since the foam is also flexible and shock absorbent, it helps against accidental manhandling too.
- Partition inserts: These are used when multiple products are being shipped in a single box and it is required to separate them for transport. They are usually made with chipboard or foam and provide mild cushioning as well.
- Die cut foam inserts: These are used to package specially sized and shaped products like soda cans, tools, electronic items etc. that require a non-standard shaped foam insert to hold them in place. They are extremely light (as foam is light) and also add a touch of beauty to the packaging of the product.
- Die cut peachboard inserts: These are just like their equivalent foam inserts except they’re made from peachboard – which is slightly harder than and not as flexible as foam. It is used more for decorative purposes than actual cushioning or protection and are most commonly used with jewelry, toys, etc. which are not very easily damaged.
- Foam trays: These are inserts that envelop the product from above and below and help harness it inside the box. Products are usually shipped in boxes that are slightly larger than the products they hold, so these trays are used so that the product does not move around aimlessly inside the box during transit.
Apart from die cutting there are also other methods of creating custom inserts like water-jet cut foam (where a high velocity jet of water is used to make intricate shapes necessary in an insert), CNC routed foam (which, as the name suggests, uses CNC machines to shape the insert) and so on. Die inserts are a particular convenience when it comes to making shapes that are well-defined, and are required to be mass-produced.
Foam box inserts can be made from many materials including polyurethane, polyethylene or expanded polystyrene etc. and can be selectively made anti-static so that sensitive electrical equipment can also be transported. Expanded polystyrene, in particular is a very versatile form of foam in that it expands to shape itself according to the item inside the box. The product is placed within a box, polystyrene gel (that is easily available in stores) is sprayed all around the product inside the box, and is left covered for some time – after which the completed foam insert is formed inside according to the dimensions of the product. This is usually used as a DIY method to send sensitive equipment that cannot tolerate large movements or impacts.