Using Soft Vs. Rigid Foam Inserts

Foam inserts are very valuable to companies that need to ship or sell industrial products that can't move around in the packaging at all. To the general public, the foam is just there, occasionally serving as a handy way to tell which part went where if the product needs to be boxed up again for storage or transport. Yet the type of foam is not just a random choice. Some foam inserts are very soft and pliable, while others are rigid and won't bend or rebound after being dented. Each type works better in different circumstances and toward different goals.

Cushioning vs. Stabilizing

Foam inserts that are soft and pliable provide cushioning for whatever they're holding. Those products are meant to prevent damage to the item that could occur from mere movement, even if the movement is gentle. Rigid foam inserts, on the other hand, are good for stabilizing and shoring up the strength of the packaging that the products are in. If you have something packed in a cardboard box that could be crushed, the rigid foam helps the box keep its general shape when faced with minor forces that could dent corners. Even rigid foam isn't invincible and can break under pressure, but it helps stabilize those cardboard sides and corners.

Product Fragility

If a product is very fragile, you'll need at least some soft foam. A fragile item hitting the side of rigid foam won't necessarily be destroyed, of course, but parts that are very fragile could snap off during a particularly hard impact. You might want a combination of inserts, with rigid foam between the box and the soft foam, and then the soft foam encasing the fragile items. That helps prevent damage if the items are jostled in shipping.

Insert Durability

If the inserts are removable and reusable, you'll likely want rigid foam. Soft foam can be removable and reusable, too, but it will begin to fray quickly and leave little foam crumbs everywhere. Rigid inserts will last longer, assuming you take care of them and don't treat them roughly.

Whether you think one type of foam is best or want to get a combination, foam inserts are necessary for the safety of the product you need to store or ship. Contact supply manufacturers to find out about the different foam inserts available and to find the foam types that will best protect and cushion whatever you need them to.