How to Find the Right Returnable Dunnage for Your Product

What Packaging Options Can Be Utilized for Your Product?

Packaging is an important aspect for all companies as it can prolong their product lifecycle. The returnable dunnage you choose for your product can determine how well the packaging will perform. The meaning of dunnage in the packaging world is the interior structure of a package that firmly holds the product into place. Basically, it’s the assembled material inside of any package that has been custom cut and built to the specifications of the part.

Packaging also determines how safe the customer’s product will be during transportation and storage. It’s necessary to get the right packaging for your product and there are several different types of returnable dunnage that can be utilized for your product: plastic, foam, steel, fabric bag etc. In this article, we will discuss these multiple returnable dunnage options and explain how to choose the right option for your product.

1. Crosslink Foams

Crosslink foam dunnage is a good option for products that are fragile and need to be protected from damage. In order for this type of returnable dunnage to be effective, the exact shape of the desired product must be cut into the foam rails to firmly hold the product (this can be done by utilizing a design software). Essentially, all part shapes and sizes can be accommodated with this returnable dunnage method as it is a durable and robust holding mechanism.

Cross link foams come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors; it can also come with adhesives on the bottom face depending on the application you’re looking for. Also, there are several weight options to choose from as some circumstances require heavier duty cross link foams. This means your options are virtually endless when it comes to getting exactly what you need out of your foam rails! Of course, all the different variations come at different price points and your selection can be influenced based on your budget.

foam rail dunnage
2. Plastic Corrugated

Plastic corrugated dunnage is a lightweight and flexible material that can be used for a wide range of products. It is durable, reusable and recyclable, making it cost-effective. This returnable dunnage style can be cut to shape with a waterjet or a laser cutting machine. Essentially, the machine will cut the plastic corrugated sheets to the exact outline that’s produced in the design. After the sheets are cut to shape, they will be assembled to form cells or pockets to fit the customer’s products. This returnable dunnage method is best used to accommodate smaller parts.

A wide variety of plastic materials are available today that allow you to customize your product’s packing based on its intended use. There are different types of plastics for different applications including: high density polyethylene (HDPE), which is strong enough for heavier items; polypropylene (PP), which has excellent chemical resistance but less stiffness or impact resistance compared with HDPE; Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) which offers good chemical resistance while having higher stiffness characteristics than the rest.

plastic corrugated dunnage
3. Fabric Bags

A fabric bag dunnage is a great choice for packaging products that are heavy and delicate. It will protect your item from breaking during shipping and it makes it easy to load and unload products. The pockets (or cells) that each fabric bag possesses will be the holding mechanism for the customer’s products. Typically, these pockets are manufactured with a slight angle to ensure the part doesn’t fall out during transportation or heavy resistance. Extra security measures can be implemented like assembling straps at the front of each cell to essentially close off the front opening.

Fabric bags are a good for packaging because they are relatively inexpensive to manufacture and come in many different designs and colors that fit different types of products. They are typically made from polyester fabrics and come in different weights depending on their purpose. Some companies even offer different color options for their products; all depends on what your preferences are. Also, they have some environmentally friendly benefits: they use less plastic than other types of packaging materials, making them more eco-friendly.

fabric bag dunnage
4. Steel

Steel dunnage is the most durable option out of all the returnable dunnage types. It is also one of the most expensive to purchase, but it can be used over and over again without losing its original shape or integrity. This can be a savings for you in the long term. That being said, this dunnage style is ideal to hold parts that are heavy and not delicate. Basically, when the part is large and doesn’t require any special treatment (like utilizing softer materials), then this returnable dunnage will be the most effective solution.

Generally speaking, steel is an environmentally friendly material because it does not require any chemicals to process and manufacture, making it a great choice for those who care about their carbon footprint. In addition, when steel dunnage are recycled at the end of their useful life (which typically lasts from 10-15 years), they are melted down into raw materials that can be reused in new products or reused by other manufacturers as raw materials in other projects.

steel dunnage

There are several different types of returnable dunnage that can be utilized for your product. It is important to consider the type of product you are shipping and what will best suit it based on its size, shape, weight and fragility. For example, if you have a large fragile item that needs protection from damage then a fabric bag would be ideal. In contrast, if you have a small part that requires protection then utilizing plastic corrugated materials will be the most efficient solution.

In summary, returnable packaging is highly recommended for companies to use as the benefits are immense. Learning which type of returnable dunnage that can be utilized for your product will help you save time and avoid any packaging failures. If you are unsure which option to choose from or where to start, then please contact a packaging professional to guide you and to provide you with the best optimal solution.





Plexform specializes in returnable packaging and material handling solutions such as custom steel racks and interior bulk container/tote dunnage. Our mission is to reduce transportation costs and product damage by producing custom packaging specifically tailored to each unique part.

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