When it comes to keeping items safe while in transit, traditional materials like packing peanuts and bubble wrap have largely been replaced by air pillows. If you’ve ever ordered anything from Amazon, you probably know exactly what we are talking about. The e-commerce giant was one of the first to embrace these air-filled plastic pouches, and several other companies have followed suit.
Air pillows are easy to use, take up less space in warehouses and are more environmentally friendly than other types of void fill. For these reasons and many others, they are growing in popularity and are used by massive corporations and small startups alike. Let’s take a few minutes to examine air pillows and how they can be used in shipping.
What Are Air Pillows?
Air pillows are bags that are filled with air and sealed. Like packing peanuts, they are used to fill voids inside packages and provide cushioning. Businesses purchase them in their uninflated state and fill and seal them using specialized air cushion packaging systems. The uninflated pillows take up very little space and, compared to pre-inflated bubble wrap and other packing materials, they are much easier and cheaper to ship. While the pillows feel like regular plastic, most are made from recyclable or biodegradable materials that are much better for the environment.
Air Pillows Can Be Used for Both Cushioning and Void Filling
When you need to ship relatively lightweight objects that do not take up a lot of space, you typically end up with air space inside the box. This airspace is known as a void. Filling the void with a lightweight material keeps the item(s) inside from moving around without adding weight and driving up shipping costs. Air pillows work well for this application because they weigh next to nothing and offer a quick and easy way to take up space.
They also provide protection by bracing products away from the box’s rigid sides. When properly situated around an object, air pillows keep in place while the shipment is in transit. Unlike paper fillers, packing peanuts and bubble wrap, they can almost completely immobilize the product within the box.
Air pillows can be placed around, above and below the product for total protection. Since they are non-abrasive, they can be used to cushion even delicate items without causing scratches. When used correctly, air pillows can prevent much of the damage that rough handling and impacts during transit could cause to your products.
Materials That Can Be Cushioned Using Air Pillows
Air pillows are versatile and can be used in a wide range of shipping applications. They work especially well for small, lightweight items made from a variety of materials. Their non-abrasive nature makes them suitable for delicate materials like glass and ceramic, and they are suitable for providing cushioning and filling voids in packages containing most anything that is small, lightweight and smooth.
Because the film is relatively thin and each pillow is filled with air, they can be “popped.” Therefore, they aren’t a good choice for products with sharp edges and those that have substantial weight. While air pillows provide shock protection for fragile items, they may not be enough to keep especially delicate products–like small figurines–safe on their own. In these instances, they may work best used in conjunction with bubble wrap that can be wrapped around the item.
Benefits of Using Air Pillows
While air pillows aren’t right for every application, they are extremely versatile and work well for many shipping needs. They add nearly zero weight to shipments, which helps businesses save on shipping costs. Since they are filled on demand, air pillows also take up less floor space in shipping facilities. They can also save on your packaging expenses because they cost less for suppliers to ship than bulkier materials, like packing peanuts.
Air pillows are easy to use and convenient. They come in a wide range of sizes, allowing you to choose exactly what you need to fill voids and protect products. An eco-friendly alternative to other packing materials, air pillows are either made from biodegradable film or HDPE film, which can be recycled.
When you need packaging materials to provide cushioning and fill voids, air pillows are an excellent choice. Their versatility makes them ideal for shipping a wide range of materials, and they offer numerous other benefits that can save businesses money and reduce their impact on the environment.