Packaging is defined as a technical means or a group of means that protects goods from damage and loss during transportation, storage, or distribution and minimizes the threat of causing environmental pollution.
In the modern world there are the following types of packaging materials:
1. Bubble wrap
Bubble wrap is made by trapping air bubbles in between two plastic sheets. It is designed to protect and cushion fragile and valuable items during their transportation.
Bubble wrap cuts to wrap products of virtually any shape or size. It is not recommended for heavyweight products. Multiple layers might be needed to provide better isolation and protection of the item, including its corners and edges.
2. Loose fill materials
Loose fill materials are made from geofoam or bioplastic. They are used for filling up empty space in a box containing lightweight, non-fragile items. Polystyrene peanuts hold the items inside a box in place. In between the items, flat pieces of corrugated fiberboard can be used to prevent movement of items in the polystyrene chips.
Loose fill materials are not recommended for flat and narrow items that can migrate or shift within the package. Polystyrene peanuts cause static electricity and may damage electronic items. Anti-static peanuts or mylar should be used for such products.
Light, soft, and resilient styrofoam sheets provide excellent surface protection and cushioning. It is ideal for protecting lightweight products.
4. Air pillows
Air pillows use air pressure to secure the items inside the container and provide an air barrier. Extreme climate conditions can affect the amount of air pressure inside the pillows. At low temperatures air pressure decreases, whereas at high temperatures air pillows may start to expand, which can cause damage to the product or the container.
Variations in altitude may also affect the condition of the air pillows. Moving from high to low altitude will cause the air pressure in the pillows to decrease and vice versa.
Foam-in-place is created by a mixture of chemicals that expand, thus forming a protective layer around the items. Foam-in-place supports corners and edges, and is very convenient where cushioning is needed. To maximize effectiveness, foam-in-place must be evenly distributed around the items. It is also important to select the appropriate density of the foam. Most commonly used foam materials are polystyrol, polyurethane, and polyethylene. Polystyrol is less resilient, therefore it is not recommended for fragile products. Polyethylene is ideal for valuable and fragile items. Polyurethane is more suitable for lightweight goods.
6. Kraft paper
High strength, cellulosic-gel-containing Kraft paper is wrapped and crumpled to fill empty space inside a package with light-to-medium weight, non-fragile items.
Multilayered paper is ideal for packaging of medium-to-large sized, non-fragile items that require moisture protection. Paper can also be used for filling empty spaces.
8. Corrugated cardboard
Sheets of three- or five-layer corrugated board can be bound together to form blocks or pads. They can be used as a shield between the product and the container. Corrugated boards are used for heavyweight and non-fragile products. Cardboard can be easily shaped to form trays, liners, partitions and other parts of the packaging that work to preserve the integrity of the cargo.
9. Mylar (BoPET)
A polyester film is resistant to light, moisture, air; therefore it is highly effective for long-term storage and packaging. Film can be used for food products, it doesn’t conduct electricity, which allows to package electronic items for international container shipping.
Cellophane is used for food and cigar packing. The most important quality of cellophane is its permeability to moisture; it also doesn’t melt when set on fire.
11. Corrugated plastic
Corrugated plastic is a light material made from propylene which can be easily cut to shape. It is available in variety of colours and sizes. The common thicknesses are 3, 4, and 5 mm. It is used to form plastic containers and reusable packaging.
12. Stretch film
This thin plastic film sticks to any glass surface and wraps around the items. Its elasticity prevents the package from unwrapping and opening. It is used in air freight transportation to unitize pallet loads. It protects cargo from moisture, dust, dirt, theft and ultraviolet radiation.
13. Thermoplastic film
Thermoplastic film is used similar to stretch film, except it is not stretch wrapped around the products. It is applied when heated. Thermoplastic film is made from polyethylene and is used to protect parts of metal constructions from corrosion during transportation. It can be easily wrapped around complex profiles.
Glass containers are used for transporting liquids and some dangerous goods. As a rule, each glass container is placed into plastic containers to prevent contact with another glass container or its packaging.