Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saturday Short Subjects: Tiny Cardboard Pyramids

Packing “peanuts”? Bags of air? Bubble wrap? Wadded up rolls of brown paper?

If you shopped online over the holidays, you probably received vast quantities of these items along with your purchases.

If you are like me, you popped a few of the bubbles for fun and then and shipped out as much of this stuff as you could when you packed your gift boxes [likely to the chagrin of those on the receiving end.]

If Jeff Boothman has his way, peanuts, paper, and air bags will soon be replaced with his product, ExpandOS, a system of cardboard pieces, punched out of a sheet, and folded into pyramids.

Joseph Flaherty speculates in a recent issue of Wired that ExpandOS could make bubble wrap obsolete. 

ExpandOS is purported to be:  
  • 20% less expensive than bubble wrap and
  • Up to 40% faster to use than foam-in-place packaging

According to the sustainability section of the company’s website, ExpandOS products are 
  • Made from first quality, post industrial waste
  • SFI Certified
  • Reusable
  • Recyclable

Flaherty interviewed the product’s inventor, William Oliver, who spoke of the box ExpandOS ships to potential customers. The box contains a brick, a coffee mug, and a lightbulb. Oliver reported that he had only heard of one mug breaking in shipment.

This YouTube video demonstrates ExpandOS in action. 

ExpandOS is proof that “necessity is the mother of invention.” William Oliver, a former designer of machine tools for Ford and Mercedes, needed to make a living. He pursued his dream of creating a flat pack solution for shipping. After a number of false starts, he was able to develop “a machine tool that could cut, fold, and lock millions of paper triangles.”   

If you have something fragile to ship, and you want to give ExpandOS a try, you can find ready-to-use bags of ExpandOS Protective Packaging at retailers including Lowe’s for $8.49. Keep that in mind the next time you want to ship a brick, a coffee mug, and a lightbulb to your favorite person…

Have a nice rest of the weekend.

Why Saturday Short Subjects? Some readers may recall  being dropped at the movie theater for the Saturday matinee — two action-packed feature films with a series of short subjects (cartoons or short movies, sometimes a serial cliffhanger) sandwiched in between. Often the short subjects were the most memorable, and enjoyable, part of the morning. That explains the name. The reason behind these particular posts is that we are all short on time. My Short Subject posts should not take me as long to write or you as long to read (or try).

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