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Whilst being incredibly versatile and effective, using too much foam can be bad. Bad for the environment. Bad for the end user. Bad for transit costs. Bad for your company’s bottom line.
For example, whilst foam can eliminate transit damage, it adds another cost and process to your packaging. Excessive use also leads to increased weight, volume and, as such, shipping costs. Minimising the amount reduces your costs.
So what is the solution? Making efficient use of foam material, and in particular, taking advantage of foam end caps.
Often, people think that the more foam you use, the better the protection will be when in fact, a fully optimised design will normally use less. While the job of foam is to eliminate transit damage, it’s important to remember that more foam equals more cost, more storage space and higher transportation costs. Minimising the amount used within an intelligent design, however, can reduce these costs while actually improving product protection.
Foam end caps provide a cushion around the edges of the item, suspending the item in the middle of the outer corrugated cardboard packaging and creating an air gap between the product and the outside world.
Due to the versatility, performance and cost of these foams, their use is prevalent amongst producers of equipment such as computer peripherals, hi fi and audio equipment, indeed any sensitive or expensive electronic items.
However, anything fragile, from bottles of wine to vases and ornaments, can benefit from being transported using this method.
The most common form of foam packaging, the end cap, involves the foam being die cut to fit the end profiles of the item being protected.
This sometimes involves bonding multiple pieces of foam together but through clever use of materials the bonding process can often be designed out
When shipping your items, the end caps are placed on each end (or sometimes each corner depending on the size of the item) of your product to create a protective cushion all round.
These are then placed into a standard corrugated box, which will be sized to offer an exact fit and minimise movement in transit.
The key benefit of this approach is that the amount of material used is minimised for lower unit costs, which in turn lowers pack weight to reduce shipping costs. It also simplifies recycling obligations for the end user.
For complex projects with challenging requirements, GWP can help you choose from a number of advanced designs.
For example, you can specify “hinged” end caps. These are effectively the same as the standard end caps, but through clever construction do not involve bonding and simply fold around the item to create the cushion.
The main advantages of this are that they can be supplied and stored flat for lower transport and storage costs and can also reduce packing time in high volume manufacturing environments.
Jigsaw packs can also be created, with the components of the cushion packaging being produced in a manner that when in position, they will lock to each other.
This provides added stability, protection and can further reduce movement in transit.
When any transit damage could prove hugely costly, your foam end caps can be created with a calculated level of performance.
Unlike many manufacturers, GWP Protective utilise the latest software to accurately calculate the level of cushioning provided to match the weight, fragility and specified drop test height of the product.
This ensures the optimum level of performance, dramatically reduces breakages in transit and can also save costs when compared with the outdated “more foam equals more protection” approach.
It is important to use the correct material for optimum performance. For this reason, your end caps will be manufactured using the market leading Ethafoam and Stratocell foams from Sealed Air.
GWP specify these materials due to their versatility, reliability of performance, levels of protection offered and technical design data available. Both of them are closed cell foams, created from polyethelene polymers.
Ethafoam is available in a number of densities, colours and thicknesses. It has excellent dimensional stability and recovery, superb cushioning properties and also provides a good aesthetic appearance.
Stratocell foams feature similar performance benefits to Ethafoam, but can also include up to 6 inches of additional laminations to provide differing properties. For example, adding a laminated film or higher density foam layer can offer additional strength and durability.
Both foams are available in a wide range of colours and densities and can also be manufactured from recycled materials.
The closed cell nature of the foams also means that they are non abrasive, do not absorb water or other liquids and can also be re-used numerous times. The low unit cost also makes them extremely cost effective as a single trip solution.
Although it is commonplace to use generic packaging materials to protect your products in transit, the real benefits of Ethafoam and Stratocell will only be realised through a fully optimised, custom design.
This is where GWP Protective can make a direct, positive impact on your packaging supply chain.
A dedicated and knowledgeable specialist will be assigned to your business, offering impartial advice on the best solution based on your specific situation.
An expert designer will then create a design that can be tested both theoretically and physically as appropriate, before your foam end caps are manufactured in a clean, modern production facility.
A further benefit of working with GWP is that you can also source the outer packaging at the same time.
By working alongside a genuine single source supplier, the compatibility between foam and outer packaging will be higher than if they were sourced from separate providers. And it will be more cost effective. And it will reduce your purchasing costs. And, if using GWPs’ JIT delivery and stock management service, you will never run out again.
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