How to Cut Costs on Your Protective Packaging

Protective packaging is an important consideration for any online retailer, shipper or business that moves freight. If you move hundreds or thousands of items regularly the impact of even the smallest decrease in protective packaging can result in huge savings over the course of the year.

Careful inspection into how you manage your protective packaging is not only important, it is necessary.

Right-Sizing Your Protective Packaging

Proper sizing of your foam and dunnage as well as the size of the box in use is of the utmost importance.  Packaging that is too small will risk damaging the products and larger packaging than is necessary can hurt costs or even cause less effective protection as products move within the package.

It’s essential to use the appropriate size for your packaging needs based on the size, shape, and weight of each item.  Choosing the right box and protective packaging that allows the items to be appropriately cushioned while also not allowing it to shift too much while in transit is always the goal. 

Selecting the Right Materials

Be sure to select the proper foam materials to cushion your particular product. Certain types of foam are more effective at protecting items from different environmental hazards, and a careful analysis of your items and the protection they need will reduce damage claims. It is important to consider what types of protection your products need, including items that are sensitive to: 

  • Electrostatic discharges 
  • Abrasive surface 
  • Hot or cold temperatures 
  • Moisture or humidity 

Review the various pros and cons for every foam type available to be sure to use the most effective solutions for your needs.

Work with the Right Foam Provider

You know your products better than anyone else. The right foam provider will work with you to choose protective packaging that is not only effective, but cost efficient. Working with a reliable partner will inevitably lower your costs as product loss from damage in transit and the use of efficient and cost effective solutions will lead to a higher margin for your products. The right foam provider will have access to a variety of foam types, custom fabrication for protective packaging, and large production runs of custom foam pieces that allow you to purchase in bulk what you need for the long run. 

At Rogers Foam, we specialize in custom protective packaging solutions provided with competitive pricing. We can help you properly protect the products you ship while lowering your costs and damage claims ratios. Reach out to use today to see how we can help you.

What is Beaded Foam?

Beaded foam is important for storing or shipping delicate items as it effectively protects items from impact and other environmental conditions during shipment. When used in conjunction with a protective packaging foam that is non abrasive items can be completely protected from surface scratches as well. Expanded polystyrene can often be used as well but beaded foams are an excellent solution in many cases.

What are beaded foams?

Expanded polystyrene (EP) , expanded polyethylene (EPE), expanded polypropylene (EPP), and beaded polyethylene (BPE) are special beaded foams types that are constructed of small beads that are interconnected. To create beaded foams, foam beads are heated causing them to expand to many times their size. After expansion, the beads can be molded into varying shapes that can be further resized and fabricated into nearly any custom shape.

Beaded foams are cost-effective because they take less energy to manufacture and fabricate than many other solutions while maintaining a high strength to weight ratio. This ratio means you can protect more with less foam.

Why use beaded foams

Beaded foams are known for having a few beneficial properties. They are:

  • Lightweight
  • Cost-effective
  • Have high structural integrity and compression strength (high strength-to-weight ratio)
  • Do not easily absorb moisture
  • Have a high chemical resistance
  • Are not abrasive (ideal for Class A surfaces)
  • No off-gassing
  • Can be recyclable

In addition to the above, many beaded foams are aesthetically pleasing making  them ideal for case inserts for fragile devices, particularly if they are being used for sales and demo purposes.

Beaded foams offer reliable low cost solution to protect a variety of items that are sensitive to abrasive materials, vibration, and other environmental conditions.

The best foams for filtration applications

It is important to understand the best foam to meet your needs. Filter foams have a multitude of industrial applications and are important to maximize performance, longevity and cost. Filtration foams are specifically designed to perform this task well due to their density and strength.

Industrial filtration foams

Filtration foams have the appropriate durability and permeability to allow liquids or solids (depending on their application) to pass through them while blocking out the unwanted objects or particles. The durability of foams is one of the things that makes foam an excellent solution for filtration applications.

Generally, less dense open cell foam is used for filtration because it has a less rigid structure that holds up more over time but closed-cell foams can be used for specific applications. The best air filter foams will meet the High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) performance standards. 

Other good qualities of filter foams include: 

  • Low odor 
  • Lightweight 
  • Anti-microbial 
  • High chemical resistance 
  • High tensile strength 
  • Elongation and tear-resistant

Additives can be added to the foam to make it flame retardant, anti-static or static dissipative which further extends the usefulness of the filtration foam.

What are the best types of filter foam?

Reticulated foam is the most common and most effective type of foam used for filtration because the reticulation process removes a portion of the foam’s cell membranes and imprutities.  The lattice-like appearance of reticulated polyurethane foam is particularly useful as a filter foam. This allows the foam to be used in applications like fluid management, cleaning products, combustible engines, air compressors, electronic devices, and in many other industries. Reticulated foam comes in two different types: reticulated polyester and reticulated polyether. Other open-cell foams like ether polyurethane foam and ester polyurethane foam are also good for filtration because of their natural toughness.

The Best Foams to Reduce Noise

Acoustic foam has long been used in both marine and industrial applications to help decrease noise, reduce vibrations and protect workers. Sound abatement foam has been used by boat manufacturers to not only isolate but also attenuate sound and vibrations from marine engines while other sound deadening foams have been used in a variety of industrial environments to reduce noise pollution and also create a safer environment for workers.
The science of how sound reduction foam works is outlined below.

Do you want sound absorbing or sound blocking?

The difference between sound absorbing and sound blocking is most easily depicted in how a recording studio’s foam lined walls work. You might think that that foam is absorbing the sound but that is not the case. The open cell foam that is being used on these walls allows sound waves to pass right through them. In order to block the sound the foam would need to be heavy and dense to stop the sound waves from passing through. Acoustic foam is used to reduce the echo and reverberations that would otherwise cause problems with the recording. It does not block the sound from escaping the room.

Foam plays a large role in reducing noise and vibrations in many settings, and both open and closed cell foams can be used to control the acoustics of a room. 

Sound Control Foams

Foam that have the ability to absorb sound are excellent for marine applications where a loud, vibrating motor would make the experience uncomfortable. Without marine foam the engine would ruin the boating experience.

Closed-cell cross linked polyethylene foam is the ideal solution for these types of applications because this dense foam absorbs and blocks sound, creating a better experience for boat passengers. 

In industrial environments, both closed-cell sound deadening foam and open-cell foams are used to create a safer environment for workers. Closed cell foam products are used to block sounds and reduce the sounds in an environment, while open cell foams are used to prevent sounds from reverberating across a room. Both can be helpful in controlling and reducing the noise in a given area, which can help meet OSHA regulations on noise control.  

Noise requirements from OSHA

It is important to be aware of the OSHA requirements for employers. OSHA requires a hearing conservation program when noise exposure is at or above 85 decibels averaged over 8 working hours, or an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA). Under OSHA’s Noise Standard, the employer must reduce noise exposure through engineering controls, administrative controls, or Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs) to attenuate the occupational noise received by the employee’s ears.  A combined open cell and closed cell foam application is a good start towards meeting those requirements.

Choosing Between Anti-Static and Conductive Foams

Special ESD foam that protects static-sensitive electronic devices, components, and parts for shipping and storage is a necessary solution for many of today’s devices.  When choosing a foam for these types of items, it’s best to ensure that they meet EIA-541 Packaging Material Standards for ESD Sensitive Items. When it comes to choosing between anti-static and conductive foams, it helps to understand the differences between the two. 

What is Anti-Static Foam?

Anti-static (ESD) foams help dissipate electro-static charges, which can easily damage sensitive electronic devices and parts. These types of foam have a surface resistance that measures between 109 – 1012 ohms and are made from a static dissipative polyurethane and polyethylene material.  

Their pink coloring makes most ESD foams easy to identify. ESD foams are chemically treated with anti-static agents that allow them to not generate static charges.  They prevent static from being built up by the friction of the item rubbing up against them while in motion. However, they will allow static charges to pass through them. When using this foam in shipping to fully protect static-sensitive devices, make sure the item is placed in a silver conducive bag that will shield it from outside electrostatic charges.

Generally speaking, anti-static foam is not reusable. 

Static Dissipative Foam

Static dissipative foam is a type of foam that allows for static charges to flow to the ground more slowly than conductive materials. Controlling the speed in which charges go to the ground, helps the foam protect the material encased inside of it. This type of foam is generally either carbon-impregnated and colored black or surface treated and colored pink. Static dissipative foam has a low (or no) initial charge and prevents discharges to or from human contact. These types of foam have 105 to 109 ohms.. 

What is Conductive Foam?

Conductive foam is a type of polyethylene foam that is filled with carbon. It is generally identifiable by its black coloring and has a surface resistance of less than 106 ohms. Conductive foam protects electronic devices and components by acting as a Faraday cage, which blocks electromagnetic fields from reaching whatever it is surrounding. This type of foam makes it not necessary to place the item in something that will shield it from outside electrostatic charges. Conductive foam is known to drain batteries if their conductive ends come in contact with the foam. Be sure to shield batteries from the foam if you are using this type of foam to ship or store electronic devices by using a layer of insulation or another type of static dissipative foam.