The best shock absorbing material to prevent breaking during shipping

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You may like to ship gifts occasionally, or maybe you have a business where you ship products on a regular basis. United Parcel Service's (UPS) Package Lab has demonstrated through dropping, crushing and shaking tests that the packing materials you use are as important as how you wrap your items to be shipped.

The best shock absorbing materials to prevent breakage during shipping must be sturdy and crush resistant. Try experimenting with different packing materials.

Corrugated Boxes

Corrugated boxes and corrugated cardboard partitions give the items you ship extra cushioning protection. The corrugation creates protective air pockets that act as shock absorbers. Use a new corrugated cardboard box that will resist crushing. Use corrugated cardboard partitions between the items you are shipping to prevent them from bumping together and chipping or breaking. Use strong packing tape on the seams and top of the box to prevent it from splitting open if it is dropped.

Foam Peanuts

Foam peanuts will protect the items that you are shipping from breaking, but you will need to use a lot of them. Pack the inside of your item with foam peanuts if it is hollow. Wrap the item in another layer of packing such as foam sheeting, place it in a sturdy box and fill the box with as many foam peanuts as possible to prevent the item from shifting and breaking. Foam peanuts tend to be messy because little bits will break off of them. They can also be hard to get off of the item and yourself because they can cause static build up. Try foam peanuts made from cornstarch for a more eco-friendly packing material. They dissolve in water and tend not to produce as much static.

Foam Pouches and Sheets

Foam pouches work well for flat, square items that you ship. The pouch holds the item securely and protects it from bumps and drops. Foam sheets provide protection on an irregularly shaped item by wrapping around its curves and sharp corners that need extra cushioning. Tape the foam sheets on the item with packing tape to ensure that the sheets stay securely in place. Place the item in a sturdy box, and cover it with other packing materials to ensure that it will not slide around. Shake the box to test whether the item can move before you seal the box up.

Bubble Wrap and Bubble Bags

Bubble wrap comes in plastic sheets of air-filled bubbles. You can find bubble wrap sheets with large or small bubbles. The air-filled bubbles act as shock absorbers to prevent item breakage. Wrap your item to be shipped in a sheet of bubble wrap, secure it with packing tape and place the item in a sturdy box. Use bubble bags, which are a length of sealed, air-filled plastic bags, around the inside of the box to act as a bumper for your item. The downside to using these materials is that they lose their protective capacity when the box is dropped or crushed repeatedly and the bubbles or bags deflate.

Crumpled Paper

Crumpled paper works best in conjunction with other packing materials to protect your shipped items. Crumpling the paper creates protective air pockets which can absorb the shock of a fall. The paper can be crumpled to fit any item and to fill in spaces in the packing box to prevent the item from sliding around. Be sure to wrap your item in another packing material first if you are going to use crumpled newsprint so that the newsprint ink does not transfer to your item.