Large Surface, Thin Cover
Really? What’s the big deal about a lightweight scanner? Or any kind of scanner? We pack electronics, we pack glass and crystal, we pack fragile stuff all the time.
True enough. But coming across this item in a recent move seemed good reason to pause. This scanner was light. It had a lot of seemingly fragile surface area all the way around. Plus the protective cover for the large piece of glass where the scanning takes place was not hard but rather bendable. The whole thing just felt like a disaster in the making.
Ideally the customer would have held onto the original box – and yes, the Styrofoam corners too. Alas, that was not the case, and packing this puppy would require a bit more creativity and attention.
It was too long for a book box. This meant it would only fit in a 3-cube if we packed it diagonally and on its side. (We quickly decided against this.) Packing it in a 4.5 would have left a load of extra room to fill – with packing paper or with other items that may or may not have to come out of the same room as the scanner and we like to avoid searching the house for enough of the right sized pillows and blankets to pad one rogue piece of fragility. The best option was therefore to pack it standing on end in a dish pack.
Going the dish pack route may or may not seem a risky proposition – it all depends on the pressure on the scanner inside that dish pack. Sure, we pack breakables all the time (and without incident most of the time). But remember that large top surface and that soft cover over the scanner’s glass. The pressure inside the carton can be heavy and uneven.
To start we wanted to make sure the bottom of our dish pack was adequately padded. We’ve seen (and shuddered at the sight of) guys laying a mere few crisp sheets of packing paper down on the bottom of their carton and then going to work on the stemware. We like a little more cushioning – (1) a nice thick layer of roughly-folded paper followed by (2) a layer of crumpled paper topped with (3) more folded paper. This creates a thick and stable bed of protection for whatever you put in your dish pack.
The scanner itself we’d wrap in brown paper; we prefer the double-ply version but two single-ply work just as well, wrapping one sheet at a time.
Standing our scanner on end, we see it fits nicely in our dish pack. Yet this placement brings two concerns. First, if the top edge of that scanner is right up there under the box flaps it may end up bearing a lot of weight. Second, we see clearly now all that surface area that needs to be protected against the pile of pressure from its neighbors inside that carton.
Some extra cardboard takes care of both potential issues, providing weight-bearing support as well as protection for that covered but vulnerable glass surface. If you like and/or it is called for, stuff some crumpled paper between the scanner and that extra layer of cardboard. It only takes a few more seconds to totally put your mind at ease.
So what if your four-inch-thick scanner fits in a book box? Or, as in our very unusual case, the customer has an irregular-sized carton (with a bit of bubble wrap to boot) that just happens to fit your item’s dimensions in length and width? Either scenario is encouraging, except we still have plenty of room to fill, underneath and on top of our item. And while we could go searching for the right sized pillows or use a small mountain of packing paper to fill up all that space, we’ll employ a different strategy: we’ll cut our box down to size.
This will make a nice, dense carton with extra cardboard protection on top. It also saves paper, saves space on the truck and makes a uniquely-sized carton which tends to attract a person’s attention – meaning a better chance that the “FRAGILE, SCANNER” you write on the sides of the box will be noticed.
One helpful hint when cutting down your carton: After using your blade to go after the corners, slice a superficial line on the inside of the box where you want to fold it. This helps make a cleaner, straighter edge. Do this for all four sides since you will be folding them all, forming a triple-layered top to your customized carton.
If you are so inclined, it wouldn’t hurt to box your scanner (or whatever) in a custom box like this and then pack it inside a dish pack. Doing so would result in even more protection than simply placing a cardboard shield around it. We do have to balance care with speed, however, so go whichever route suits you – and keeps that scanner looking good.
By the way… remember to pack the cords in with the scanner!
End Note: For an item with dimensions like this scanner a mirror carton would certainly do in a pinch. Again, this would likely involve cutting the carton down – to keep that carton dense and eye-catching.
Whichever way we go, making it clear on any carton what is inside is our first and last line of defense against damage.