Interested in a custom packaging solution? Looking for more information on our packaging products? Contact us by email, phone, or request a free quote below. We can’t wait to work with you.
As a business owner, e-commerce retailer, or warehouse manager, ensuring that your products arrive at their destination in good condition is crucial.
One key element of product packaging that plays a significant role in protecting your products during shipping is void fill. Void fill is the material used to fill empty spaces in a package to prevent movement and absorb shock during transit. Choosing the right type of void fill can make all the difference in ensuring that your products arrive at their destination undamaged.
In this article, we will explore the different types of void fill available on the market. We will also look at the factors to consider when selecting void fill, and best practices for using it effectively. Read on to learn more about finding the best void fill products for your needs!
Put simply, void fill is the packaging material you use to shield your product from damage that can occur during transit to its destination.
More specifically, void fill is designed to absorb shock and restrict movement that packages experience as they are passed from the manufacturer to the consumer. Void fill can also help protect a product from unwanted environmental conditions, like moisture, sudden temperature changes or bright light.
If you have never purchased void fill before, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options available to you.
Here are some of the most commonly used types of void fill, as well as their benefits and drawbacks:
Foam peanuts, also known as packing peanuts, are crafted from expanded polystyrene (EPS) and are a popular type of void fill. They are lightweight, inexpensive, and can conform to the shape of the product being shipped. All you have to do is insert your product into your package, add the peanuts, seal and go.
Their ease-of-use comes with some downsides though. For example, foam peanuts are not biodegradable and can create a mess if they spill out of the package, potentially being a nuisance to the consumer. The consumer also has to deal with the disposal of these peanuts, which due to their large quantity can disappoint the increasing number of environmentally-conscious shoppers.
Eco-friendly packing peanuts made from natural starch however are compostable, which is generally a more environmentally-friendly solution.
Another foam-based void fill solution is using foam inserts. These are dense blocks of foam that are shaped to fill empty space around your product. If you have a decent budget for this material and are shipping a fragile or heavy product, foam inserts could be an excellent choice. They offer robust protection and are commonly shipped with household appliances and furniture.
The downside of foam inserts is that what they have in strength, they sacrifice for shape and affordability. Depending on the product, foam inserts may need to be custom made and can easily take up a lot of space within a package. In some instances, you may even have to increase the packaging box to accommodate them. Fortunately, foam inserts are still lightweight, ideal if your shipping costs are calculated by weight alone.
Air pillows are made from thin, flexible plastic that is filled with air using a machine. They are lightweight, cost-effective, and can be inflated on demand. Air pillows also come in various sizes and shapes, making them versatile for different products.
However, air pillows are not as effective in protecting heavier products as they tend to deflate over time. If your product has any sharp corners, there is also a risk that the air pillow can pop. While this risk is generally quite low, it can occur with low-quality air pillows, especially if you purchase from an unknown buyer.
If you are looking for a light-weight and environmentally-friendly void fill solution, the humble sheet of paper might be a great starting point.
Paper-based void fill products include paper wrap and shredded or crinkled paper. Each type brings its own benefits. For example, crinkled paper using the ability to compress movement while also not completely restricting a product.
Paper void fill is quite versatile and is an affordable option for packing. However, it may not be as effective as other types of void fill, especially for heavy or fragile products.
Bubble wrap is a very popular type of void fill that is manufactured from plastic film, which is then supplemented with air-filled bubbles. Like paper products, it is a versatile option that is easy to use and provides excellent protection for fragile products. If you are shipping your product in a mailer, you can often purchase mailers with bubble lining that uses the same technology as bubble wrap.
However, bubble wrap can be bulky and quickly pad out a package, making it less cost-effective for shipping larger products. Being plastic-based, most forms of bubble wrap is not eco-friendly and can be a challenge for your customers to recycle. Fortunately, environmentally-friendly bubble wrap products, such as PAPERbubble® are now entering the market.
Void fill is not always a necessary packaging purchase. For example, some packages like bubble mailers have in-built protection that shields the product. Similarly, excessive void fill can also be a nuisance and be a drain on your packaging budget. Choosing the wrong type of void fill is a problem too, as it can result in inefficient packaging, damaged goods, or shipping costs that are higher than necessary.
With this in mind, it is very important to take the time to carefully select the right void fill for your product and customer needs. Void fill can significantly reduce the risk of damage and getting it right can go a long way in helping your customers get the product they ordered in quality condition.
Here are some important factors that can help you select the right void fill for your needs:
The fragility and weight of your products are important factors to consider when selecting void fill. Fragile products require more protection, which may require a strong but flexible type of void fill, such as foam peanuts or bubble wrap. Heavier products may require a more robust type of void fill, such as foam inserts.
The size and shape of your package will also impact the type of void fill that you choose. Irregularly shaped items may require a more flexible type of void fill, such as air pillows, that can conform to the product’s shape. Smaller packages may require a more lightweight type of void fill to keep shipping costs down.
The shipping distance and mode of transportation will also impact the type of void fill you choose. For example, air pillows may be ideal for short-distance ground shipping, while heavier products may require a more substantial type of void fill, such as foam peanuts or paper, for longer-distance shipping.
As more consumers become environmentally conscious, selecting eco-friendly packaging options has become increasingly important. Paper and biodegradable foam peanuts are more sustainable options that can help reduce waste and improve your company’s environmental footprint.
Once you have selected the void fill you want to use, you will want to make sure you are using it efficiently and effectively.
Here are some best practices you will want to implement when using void fill:
When using a new void fill for the first time, it can be surprisingly easy to go wrong on the amount you need. If you use too little void fill, it would prove ineffective and you may mistakenly assume it is not fit for the job. If you use too much, this can cause your shipping costs to escalate. If in doubt, a packaging consultant or company is a good source of truth on how much to use per package.
Proper training of employees on how to use void fill correctly can help make sure that it is used effectively. When guiding staff on packaging with a new type of void fill, make sure that they understand how much void fill to use and how to properly secure products in the package. If you are using multiple types of void fill for different products, they should also be trained to know when and how to use each type appropriately.
While tried-and-tested insight is extremely invaluable, sometimes real-life data is the best guide for your packaging strategy. Make a note of when you start rolling out your new void fill and keep an eye on key metrics like customer satisfaction, delivery success rate, and packaging spend. This can help analyze your packaging’s performance and whether any changes may need to be made, especially when adding new products to your manufacturing line.
Ideally the most optimized void fill should:
By following these practices and using the right void fill, you can turn your packaging strategy into an efficient and effective operation.
If you are looking to purchase quality void fill products from a North American supplier, consider Crownhill Packaging. We are a leading packaging provider that specializes in delivering quality, innovative packaging products and solutions – all at budget-friendly prices. We stock a wide variety of void fill, including sustainable options.
To learn more about our products and how we help make your packaging an asset for your business, get in touch with our friendly team today!