Safe and Secure: The Importance of Void Fill
Hopefully by now you know what packaging is. You know, the container anything you buy usually comes in, especially if you order it online. But packaging isn’t just what’s around the outside of that new pair of shoes you bought in the store or those RAM sticks you ordered in bulk for your office’s IT department. Most of the time, it’s not just air in that box alongside your new stuff, whatever that may be. That’s where void fill comes in.
Void fill packaging, like the name implies, are packaging materials that fill in the empty space of a container. This kind of packaging secures products in place within the container and, depending on how hardy the material, can also act as cushioning to further protect and stabilize the contents.
These materials could be molded styrofoam or plastic structures customized to fit around the contents or loose-fill varieties such as foam packing peanuts, paper (in some cases, rolled up newspaper has been a favorite of some online solopreneur stores), and corrugated cardboard padding. And yes, bubblewrap and other air-filled pillows count too, short-term bubble-popping entertainment notwithstanding.
Not all void fill material, however, was made equal. Depending on factors like cargo, size of the package, and cost, each business looks for different solutions to their logistics needs. Electronics, for example, need static-free materials whereas a crate of oranges doesn’t; companies shipping dolls don’t need as large of boxes as television manufacturers. But while all cushioning might fill voids, not all void fill material can act as cushioning. Sometimes you just need something held in place.
That being said, innovation in this market is driven by versatility. As one can imagine, each company has its own philosophy on what that exactly means.
Filling the Void in Packaging Tech
For FP International, sustainability and innovating logistics has been our mission since the beginning. Almost 50 years ago, founder Arthur Graham got his start at Safe-T Pacific Company, a soda fountain supply company. One product the company sold was paper straws; the process to make them, yielded “straw ends” about 3/4″ long and considered waste. Turning trash to treasure, Graham turned around and sold the straw ends to local companies as an alternative loose-fill packaging material. The demand got so great that Safe-T started making straw ends specific for this.
We’ve had plenty of other sustainability projects since then, but our objective remains the same: protect the environment while encouraging entrepreneurialism by helping businesses big and small find better logistics solutions. One our latest projects following this philosophy paved way for our NOVUS air cushions, an inflatable void fill packaging material great for many different uses.
With two film thicknesses and a variety of cushion patterns, NOVUS air cushions block, brace, and stabilize. To maximize shock absorption, air pockets within a sheet are connected, allowing air to move through them freely and transfer pressure during transit.
Minimizing Our Footprint (and Yours)
Some of these films feature are 100% recyclable and made with special additives that accelerate the natural process of biodegradation. This leaves less trash in landfills while keeping more money in your wallet. Better yet, you no longer have to be a big shipping company to take advantage of this technology.
NOVUS’ default machine only takes up about two square feet (22” long x 12” wide x 23” high) of counter space, our new MINI PAK’R solution has an even smaller footprint at one and a quarter feet (14” long x 14” wide x 11” high), perfect for small business owners or entrepreneurs starting out in their garage or spare bedroom.
Regardless of what you’re shipping — whether it’s refurbished electronics from a side business you’re playing around with or a care package to your kid off at school — you’re going to need something to keep your valuables secure while they’re in transit. While we’ve come a long way since paper straw ends, where we go from here is a question we love to ask.
Just like anything shipped in a box, it’s not just our destination, but the journey that counts. A little insulation can go a long way, both for your business products or gifts to family and friends. After all, you and your customers deserve a new standard of packaging for a new era of business. All that’s left is… well… filling the gaps.