Shipping Boxes

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Businesses and individuals alike often use boxes to ship a variety of goods, from gifts and care packages to products and supplies. While choosing a shipping box may not seem like a big decision, there are a few guidelines that can help make the process easier.

Sometimes, you may also need to ship specialty items, such as breakables or things that must be shipped at a specific temperature (like food or pharmaceuticals). In these cases, you will need to put more thought into choosing the right type of mailing boxes as well as the right packing material to ensure your product arrives at its destination undamaged and uncompromised.

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Types of Shipping Boxes

There are two main materials used to make boxes for shipping, and the choice of one type of shipping box over the other typically depends on what you need to send:

  • Cardboard boxes. Cardboard boxes are the standard option for shipping. For smaller items, thin cardboard may be sufficient, but for larger ones, corrugated shipping boxes are typically used, as they are more durable. Cardboard shipping boxes are available in a number of sizes.
  • Plastic boxes. Plastic shipping boxes are constructed of hard plastic and are more similar to shipping cases or shipping crates. They have tightly secured lids and often have a handle and wheels for easy carrying.

One tip you should keep in mind when packing boxes for shipping is to use plenty of packing materials to stabilize and cushion the object inside the box. Many boxes are tossed or bounced around during the mailing process, so you need to make sure your item is firmly packaged to avoid damage.

Insulated Shipping Boxes

If you need to ship temperature-sensitive items, insulated shipping boxes are a must. These boxes may be insulated in a number of ways, including foam, thermal lining, reflective materials and gas-filled panels.

Common cooling agents used inside an insulated shipping box include dry ice, gel packs, block or cube ice, and even the shipped products themselves—frozen meat, for example, may not thaw inside an insulated shipping box if its trip is short. However, with things like perishable food and medical supplies, it's always better to be safe than sorry.