What are Packing Cases?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Packing cases are containers which are designed specifically for the packaging and transport of various goods. The size, design, and composition of a packing case can vary considerably, depending on what it is designed for, and such cases are often designed to be used again and again for greater efficiency. In addition to being used to pack and transport commercial materials, packing cases can also be useful for individuals, and some people even use antique packing cases as decorative items around the home and business.

Packing peanuts are often used in packing cases.
Packing peanuts are often used in packing cases.

The goal of a packing case designer is to create a case which is as lightweight as possible, to cut down on shipping costs, while also being sturdy enough to protect the goods transported inside, so that they will not be damaged. Designers are also concerned about stackability, as they want packing cases which are easy to handle and reconfigure inside a truck or shipping container. Many packing cases today are designed to snap together onto shipping pallets for greater efficiency.

Vintage packing cases may by found by scouring garage sales.
Vintage packing cases may by found by scouring garage sales.

A wide variety of materials can be designed to go inside packing cases, ranging from packing peanuts to cushion heavy impacts to special racks for transporting delicate fruit, like peaches. A packing case may be lined with paper, foam, rubber, wood shavings, plastics, and other materials to protect the contents inside, and in some cases molded racks are installed inside packing cases to hold things especially stable in transit.

Historically, packing cases were made of wood, and they were often decorated with advertisements and the manufacturer's logo. Fruit packing cases in particular were in fact quite lovely, in addition to being functional, and some very excellent collections of labels from fruit packing cases have been published in coffee table books, for people who appreciate advertising art. Modern packing cases tend to be more utilitarian, and they may be made from plastics or metal, rather than wood, because these materials are more durable.

People who want to use packing cases for storage, transport, or decoration can often find them at supermarkets and big retail stores. In some cases, the store may be required to send such cases back to the manufacturer, so it is a good idea to ask for permission before taking packing cases. Vintage packing cases from bygone eras can often be picked up at thrift stores, garage sales, and antique shops.

Packing cases may be sealed with tape.
Packing cases may be sealed with tape.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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