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Understanding The Standard Thickness Of Packaging Materials

A lot of work goes into ensuring that you have the proper packaging system when making products. And one of those tasks is ensuring that your packaging materials are perfect based on the product you’re transporting. 

Manufacturers are spoilt for choice when it comes to packaging materials these days. But, this also means that you need to understand the options available to you and the characteristics they come with. Let’s explore some of the major packaging materials and their thickness profiles in this article.

Packaging Material Thickness: Why You Need To Know It

 

When you’re selecting packaging materials, one of the most important metrics you want to consider is thickness. This is because the parameter goes a long way in ensuring that packaging is sustainable and effective. 

Proper thickness ensures that your products are protected both physically and from a barrier perspective. It keeps your product from mechanical damage, while also ensuring that environmental factors like moisture and contaminants don’t get close to it. 

At the same time, with enough thickness, your packaging material will be able to ensure that your product is durable and reusable. It improves the cost-efficiency of your packaging, and it could even optimize customer protection. 

Finally, we should remember that several industries have specific regulations concerning the thickness of packaging materials. This ensures quality and safety, and as a manufacturer, you want to ensure proper compliance with these regulations. 

Common Packaging Materials and Their Standard Thicknesses

Now that we understand why you want to get thick materials for your packaging, let’s move into the main course – packaging materials and their different thickness profiles. 

Paper Packaging Materials

When it comes to packaging, paper is probably the first thing that most manufacturers think about. It’s versatile and easy to use, and the fact that you have so many options means you are also spoilt for choice when it comes to the choice of thickness. 

Kraft Paper

Many know kraft paper for its durability and strength. It’s made from wood pulp – a material which allows it to resist tearing and maintain strength. 

With kraft paper, you have a material that usually ranges from about 30 to 80 pounds per 1,000 square feet in thickness. In mils, this translates to about 2.5 to 5 mils, based on the paper’s composition.

Corrugated Cardboard

Manufacturers can also take advantage of corrugated cardboard – a mix of corrugated sheets and flat liner boards. Known for its strength and cushioning, corrugated cardboard comes in different types, each with its own thickness profile. These include: 

  • Single-wall corrugated cardboard: About 4.8 mm
  • Double-wall corrugated cardboard: About 6.4 mm
  • Triple-wall corrugated cardboard: About 12.7 mm

You can use these cardboard options to package anything from heavy to fragile items, so they are quite flexible. 

Chipboard (Paperboard)

A paperboard is a packaging material that is made from recycled paper. Its thickness is usually around 0.015 inches, although some options can get up to 0.060 inches thick as well. 

Solid Bleached Sulfate (SBS)

SBS is a piece of high-quality white paperboard that is developed through the processing of virgin wood pulp. It offers a very smooth and malleable surface, while also being printable. 

In general, SBS measures anywhere from 0.010 inches to 0.028 inches in thickness. It’s majorly used for packaging materials like cosmetics and drugs, although some use it in food packaging too.

Coated Recycled Board (CRB)

A product of recycled fibers, CRB is quite like SBS in that it provides a fine surface that can be printed. Its thickness, however, is a bit more than that of SBS, standing anywhere between 0.016 inches and 0.024 inches. 

Plastic Packaging Materials 

If you are not necessarily in tune with paper, then plastic is another material you might want to consider. With its lightweight frame and durability, plastic has always been a viable option for anyone looking to ensure smooth packaging. And, just like paper, it comes in different forms as well:

Polyethylene 

A synthetic plastic polymer, polyethylene is most likely the plastic variant that gets used the most when you consider packaging materials. That said, polyethylene itself will come in types, all varying in thickness. These include

Low-density polyethylene: A flexible, resilient variant that ranges between 10.5 and 10 mils in thickness

High-density polyethylene: A more rigid option that holds thickness between 6 and 30 mils

Polypropylene 

While its high melting point is usually the major star, polypropylene also has varying thickness levels. You have polypropylene films that range between 0.5 and 5 mils, and then you have the containers, which are between 10 and 50 mils 

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

PET is known to be strong and light. The material is also very transparent, offering protection against things like moisture and gases. With PET films, you have packaging materials that vary between 0.5 and 3 mils in thickness. But, you can also go for PET bottles, which are slightly thicker at 10 to 30 mils

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Almost every manufacturer is familiar with PVC. Its use in different types of packaging has made it very popular, with the material offering benefits such as resistance to chemicals and oils. 

The standard thickness for PVC is 1 to 10 mils for films and 10 to 50 mils for sheets. So, you want to keep this in mind.

Polystyrene (PS)

Manufacturers can also choose polystyrene, which comes in different forms. The thickness profiles for these variants include: 

  • General Purpose Polystyrene: A clear and brittle option that is between 1 to 5 mils thick
  • High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS): An opaque option that offers impact resistance. Also between 1 to 5 mils in thickness
  • Expanded Polystyrene (EPS): This is a foam option. With 1/16 to ½ inches in thickness, EPS offers optimal cushioning properties.

Polyethylene Vinyl Alcohol (EVOH)

Finally, we have EVOH – a packaging material that offers top-notch barriers against gases. With a thickness profile ranging from 0.5 to 2 mils, this material usually works as a thin layer in multi-layer packaging setups, optimizing your setup’s barrier protection as much as possible. 

Metal Packaging Materials

When you want to focus more on strength, there’s a high tendency for you to focus more on metal packaging materials and their variants. And to that end, you have the following options and their thickness profiles:

Aluminum 

We all know this material – it’s strong and light, offering the ability to easily resist any form of corrosion. With aluminum, you have different product options – all with their varying thickness levels: 

  • Aluminum foil: Usually ranging from 0.00017 inches to 0.0059 inches
  • Household Foil: Between 0.00063 inches and 0.00098 inches
  • Pharmaceutical & Food-Grade Foil: 0.001 inches to 0.002 inches  
  • Containers & Cans: 0.003 inches to 0.005 inches 
  • Thin Sheets: 0.01 inches to 0.03 inches

Tinplate 

Essentially, tinplate is a form of steel that comes with a thin tin layer coating. It’s known for its ability to prevent corrosion and rust, and it works mostly in the food industry. 

With tinplate, you can have containers and cans that range from 0.14 mm to 0.30 mm in thickness. But, some makers also offer thinner gauges – usually around 0.10 mm – that can be used in smaller containers. 

Tin-Free Steel (TFS)

Instead of tin, TFS opts for a chromium layer for its coating. The material is strong and durable, and it offers a considerable amount of corrosion resistance too. In most cases, you can find containers and cans of this material holding thicknesses between 0.14 mm to 0.30 mm. 

Stainless Steel

The popular stainless steel makes an appearance here as well, offering durability and corrosion resistance in packaging options. 

In industrial containers, you have stainless steel with thickness that ranges from 0.5 mm to 2 mm. But, there are accommodations for smaller packaging options, which can range between 0.1 mm and 0.3 mm in thickness.

Factors Influencing the Choice of Thickness

As we’ve pointed out, product manufacturers have different choice options when it comes to materials used for packaging. And this only means that you need to ensure that you get the right option based on the thickness profile you’re looking for. 

So, here are a few factors that tend to inform your choice on this front: 

The Characteristics Of The Product 

First and foremost, you need to consider what type of product you’re working with. Is it fragile? Does it have any sensitivities? Factor those in, and you should have a better idea of the packaging material and thickness to work with

How Bulky Is The Product? 

You also need to remember that heavier products need thicker and stronger materials that can support their weight and improve the efficiency of the packaging. 

Additional Protection Requirements

Besides the basic stuff, consider if the product itself has any other protection needs. These include impact resistance, barrier properties for environmental protection, and much more. 

How Expensive Is It? 

Manufacturers regularly need to consider costs when working with packaging. But, even at that, always remember that the important thing is quality as it will pay for itself over time.

Performance & Long-Term Use

Depending on the type of product and how long you’ll need to package it for, you need to consider the general performance of the packaging material too.

Possible Branding Options

Some product manufacturers need proper branding when it comes to their packaging. This is why some require packaging materials that are printable, so they can add their brand assets on  them too. 

Industry Regulations

Some industries have strict rules that guide packaging material use. As much as possible, you want to ensure that you maintain compliance with these regulations.

Conclusion

Packaging is a critical part of product manufacturing. And at the same time, understanding the right thickness for your packaging materials is something you don’t want to trivialize. 

At Sainty Tec, we understand the need for proper packaging and can help you pick the right material based on thickness. Let us know what you need today!

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