Choosing the Right Kind
of Void Fill
By: Paul Gertin
Every detail is important in the design of the perfect packaging for shipment. As you are choosing the design, box, void fill, tape, and other elements for your product packaging, it’s important to consider the overall appearance and function of these products. You need to protect the materials inside the box, and also give the customer the right impression when the box is opened.
What is Void Fill?
When you place an item in a shipping box, there is inevitably a bit of extra space. These empty areas can result in damages to a product while it is in transit. It is common for a shipped box to be tossed multiple times from truck to truck, until it finally lands on the customer’s front porch. The more the product within the box can shift, the higher the likelihood that your items will break because of impact and movement.
Void fill refers to the materials used to protect the shipped goods, such as paper, air pillows, and packing peanuts. Not only does it serve a functional purpose, but void fill can also create a “wow” factor for the customer.
If you are using corrugated shipping boxes, then you will likely need to use void fill as a regular part of your preparation for shipping, since they often have excess space after the product is placed in the box.
The Benefits of Void Fill
Here are some of the functions that void fill offers for your packaging:
- Presentation: The overall appearance of the package matters, especially because your box and shipping contents set the first impression when a customer cracks it open. Consider personalized finishing touches that will make your product look nice so you can enhance the presentation of the delivery.
- Cushioning: It can be helpful to have a soft layer above and below your product. Additionally, sometimes this cushioning can be placed between items if multiple products are sent in the same box.
- Blocking and Bracing: The term “blocking and bracing” is used when the filling is used to hold your items in place. For example, paper or air pillows are added between the product packaging and the box, so the product stays in the same place in transit.
- Moldable Protection: When fragile items are shipped, it is important to avoid contact between the items. Each piece should be wrapped individually, which helps to soften the impact if the items come in contact within the shipping box.
How to Tell If Your Box Needs Void Fill
Is it necessary to use void fill for your shipping? Not necessarily. Here are a few questions that you should consider when determining if void fill is needed:
- Are you sending fragile products?
- Is there a lot of excess space in the box, which will allow the product to move around in transit?
- How much does the product weigh?
- What experience do you want to create for your customers when they open the box?
If you are using custom-size boxes that fit the specific product packaging, then void fill might not be required. The key is to reduce excess air and avoid product movement. Continue reading in the next section to determine the best type of void fill for your packages.
Types of Void Fill
The specific type of void fill will depend on the unique details of your shipping needs. These are some of the most common types of void fill products:
It’s easy to see why paper is a popular option because it is affordable, dynamic, and easy to use. Packaging paper can help with full product protection, including the edges and corners of your product. Filling the empty space reduces the likelihood of the item moving around. The best use of paper is to add it after the product is in the shipping box. The paper should be crinkled or balled up in empty spaces. Another option is to use the paper in a decorative manner (think wrapping paper).
One of the advantages of packing paper is that it is both compostable and recyclable. If you are focusing on sustainability within your business, then it is a smart choice to choose paper products.
Packaging paper is a great option if you need blocking and bracing, moldable product protection, and a nice presentation. Gertex carries paper packaging machines and supplies from Sealed Air, click here for more information.
Every child has memories of the fun “popping” noises when a parent hands over a sheet of bubble wrap from a newly delivered product. Plastic bubble wrap can still be used for shipping, although many companies are turning to alternative bubble products for various reasons.
Bubble wrap should be used if you require moldable product protection and cushioning. Gertex offers bubble wrap supplies and machinery from Sealed Air, click here for more information.
When the inside of the box looks like it is filled with confetti, then that is crinkle paper used for the void fill. These shreds of paper are shaped like an accordion. Not only do the small pieces of paper create a great presentation, but they also help to keep products from moving around.
Crinkle paper is another excellent solution for businesses focused on sustainability. One of the drawbacks of this type of void fill is that it can be a bit messy due to the bits of paper that fall out when the package is put together. Additionally, the cost can be higher compared to other void fill products.
Sometimes referred to as inflatables, these small pillows are commonly used since they offer a fast and efficient way to fill in spaces within a box. If you’ve received a package from Amazon, then it’s likely that you have seen air pillows in use.
Since the plastic is stored flat and uninflated, it doesn’t require a lot of room in the warehouse for material storage. While air pillows are functional, they don’t offer much in terms of presentation.
The main reason you would choose air pillows is because of the function of block and bracing, as well as filling extra space within a box. We offer a full line of air pillow equipment and materials from Sealed Air, click here for more information.
Shipping, or packing peanuts are another popular material used as void fill. Despite their usefulness, some customers find peanuts to cause mess and inconvenience once the package is opened.
However, today Gertex offers bio-degradable peanuts which make disposing of the peanuts easy once the package has arrived at its destination.
Personalized Shipping Solutions
At Gertex Solutions, we understand the importance of quality shipping materials to protect the quality of your products. If you are looking for shipping products or in-house packing automation, then our team is here to help. Contact Gertex Solutions if you would like to schedule a free assessment.