5 Tips for Choosing Custom Cut Foam for Shipping
These 5 Pieces of Advice Could Save Time and Money (and Help You Avoid Headaches)
If you’ve got some extremely fragile and valuable cargo ready to ship, you’re probably in the market for a strong shipping case with custom cut foam (and if you aren’t in the market, you should be!). Follow these five guidelines for choosing a case with custom cut foam, and you just might avoid the embarrassment and expense of “broken-on-arrival” shipments.
Tip #1: Never Assume the Best
Let’s face it: Shippers are rough with our stuff, regardless of the “fragile” sticker stuck to the front of the box. So if you have expensive cargo to ship or transport, you’re best off assuming the worst and preparing accordingly. That means you don’t want to compromise on the quality of your custom cut foam inserts. Make sure your case, as a whole, is designed with custom protection for your item.
Tip #2: Understand Your Item’s Foam Load
When it comes to protection during transport, the foam load is an important factor. Here’s how to understand it: Every side and corner of a shipped item contacts the custom cut foam insert. At each point of contact, we calculate foam load — the item’s weight (lbs.) divided by the surface area (sq. in.) touching the foam at any point. Those calculations help us determine the compression set, tensile strength, and support factor of the foam we choose.
Tip #3: Don’t Assume “Fragile Is Fragile”
There couldn’t be anything less true in the shipping industry! There are all types and levels of fragility, and each one has unique protection considerations. To figure out what those considerations are, we use a calculation called the g-factor, which is related to the g-force something can endure without breaking. In some situations, we can estimate the g-factor without putting the shipment at risk, but, in other cases, the measurement must be precise. So we head to the lab and run g-factor tests using a tool called an accelerometer as part of the engineering process.
Tip #4: Remember That the Outer Case Matters, Too
Just like “fragile is not fragile,” a case is definitely not a case. What you plan to ship, and the external conditions it will ship in, should factor heavily into your choice of inner and outer case material. For example, the tough plastic outer shell of many Pelican cases provides airtight protection and is perfect for customizations like pressure gauges — important considerations for shipping fragile equipment at high altitudes. In the same way, specialized electronics can require protection from EMI/RF frequencies. Zarges cases made from aluminum are best for this type of high-tech protection.
Tip #5: Know Which Certifications Apply to Your Shipment
By virtue of some common features — like flammability — many fragile shipments are subject to regulatory alphabet soup of epic proportions. But it makes sense when you consider that the improper packaging of fragile cargo can lead to large-scale disasters. That said, spending time and money getting your shipment ready to go only to find out you’re nowhere near compliant with shipping regulations can be frustrating. Fortunately, your friendly neighborhood custom shipping experts (like CCG) are ready and able to help. Our custom case outer shells and interiors can be fashioned to meet all kinds of certifications, including IP57, IP65, IP66, IP67, Def Stan 81-41/STANAG 4280, MIL C-4150J, ATA 300, MIL-STD-810F, ASTM D775 — Drop, ASTM D951 — Water Resistance, ASTM D999 — Vibration, MIL-STD-810F, and FED-STD-101C.
If that looks like a lot of gobblygook to you, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Keep this tip list handy for the next time you need to ship something fragile and expensive. And remember, CCG is always here to answer your custom cut foam questions and any other questions you might have. We’ll get you headed in the right direction.