In most cases, products are not designed for shipment, handling and storage. It is the movement of products through the supply chain or within the manufacturing process that often presents the most severe exposure to damage potential in the product’s life.
Protective packaging serves as the temporary intermediary between relatively fragile products and hostile and dangerous supply chain environments. The cushioning within packages or which surrounds the product bridges the gap between the inherent ruggedness of the product and the level of hazard present in the physical environment.
The goal of cushioning design is to create a cushioning system that deflects and mitigates both sustained vibrational stress and shock in order to protect a product while it is in the supply chain. The cushioning properties of protective cushioning do this by spreading the force generated from either shock or vibration over both greater time duration and area. Protective packaging design should also minimize that amount of material required to protect the product without changing the performance characteristics of the cushioning material.
There are five main requirements of cushioning materials:
1. Recovery that ensures that the package contents continue to be protected even when repeatedly subjected to similar stresses. This type of protection must deal effectively with both shock from impacts as a result of drops as well as abrasion and fatigue damage resulting from vibration throughout the supply chain.
2. Insensitivity to conditions such as moisture, relative humidity, direct solar radiation and extreme variations in temperature.
3. Non-hygroscopic so as not to promote corrosion.
4. Are effective, simple and environmentally compatible.
5. Are optimally total cost effective.