You’ve heard of wrap rage, where people lose it over sealed hard-plastic packaging that’s impossible to open without scissors. Once you cut open the hard plastic shell, the resulting sharp edges lacerate your hands when you try to get your new yo-yo or phone case out of the package. That’s just one of the many reasons to staple your product packaging instead.
Product packaging serves several purposes: to protect the product as it travels from warehouse to retail shelf to consumer, to display the manufacturer’s branding, and to resist product tampering. Packaging sends a message to the consumer, and not just via the information printed on the outside of the box. Large carton staples telegraph a message of security, conveying that the item has been safe in its box from the time it left the warehouse until it arrived at the consumer’s home. Staples provide many other advantages for product packaging.
Any time you can standardize something, it’s likely to save you money. Carton-closing staplers can be integrated into automated systems so that staples used for product packaging will be the same size on every box or carton, placed in the same location and equidistant from other staples securing the carton.
Even with manual packaging, staplers allow for consistency. Electric or pneumatic stapling tools make the job of closing cartons and securing packaging go faster, with less strain on the person applying the staple than, for instance, fussing with sharp-toothed packing tape dispensers that often get tangled up. Workers using packing-tape rollers will not achieve the same standardized look that staplers can provide.
A staple removed before its time leaves behind strong evidence of tampering. The end-user of a product just wants to get it out of the box and doesn’t really care if the box gets a little torn in the process. Thieves like to work fast to escape detection, but ripping a stapled carton open to get at the contents will always leave clear signs of tampering. Not many criminals will spend time carefully prying staples out of cartons, removing the contents, and carefully reclosing the carton, with the staples positioned in the exact same holes. In fact, restapling in the same holes first occupied by the original staples won’t likely keep a carton closed any longer, and the lighter weight will immediately make known that something has gone wrong. That’s just too much work for a thief. Security cameras, other shoppers, and alert workers will notice what’s amiss before the thief makes it out the door of the big box store.
Staples serve the same purposes in food delivery. Stapling the outside bag containing food containers going out for delivery from a restaurant will expose whether anyone has opened the bag. Used correctly and carefully, small manual staplers can close paper and plastic bags without interfering with the restaurant’s food-grade containers within. When the consumer tears open the bag, it’s likely the staples will stay with the bag and reach the garbage or recycle bin along with it, leaving the food containers undisturbed and the food free of metal bits. Even if the staple pops off the bag, it won’t land in the separately covered and contained food inside the bag. A torn bag is a plain giveaway to unauthorized opening.
Weatherproof and Recyclable
Rain, snow, heat, cold, and humidity are the enemies of packing tape and glue. Things come undone in extreme weather. However, galvanized staples resist all kinds of wet weather extremes, and soaking-wet cardboard cartons stay closed when they are secured with staples.
Eco concerns are a rising issue for both consumers and manufacturers for a variety of reasons. Staples address increasing environmental awareness and concerns about sustainability. They are recyclable metal. Some recyclers will take cartons with staples still embedded in them, while others may require they be separated, but most will take both the cardboard and the metal pieces of product packaging. While technically recyclable, plastic “clamshell” packaging isn’t making it to recycling facilities. Even if it gets there, it is often dressed with sticky labels, so difficult to remove that the item becomes ineligible for recycling. Clamshells are difficult to sort from other types of recyclables and confuse even the best-intentioned consumers who want to comply with recycling restrictions.
Another advantage of staples that benefits both sides of the consumer chain relates to branding and design. It’s relatively easy for graphic designers to create packaging that fully displays branding and logos when closed with staples. After all, staples are made of wire that, while sturdy and durable, isn’t so thick as to obscure branding on the outside of a carton. Staples can secure the tops, bottoms, and sides of cartons without covering up the branding on the outside, making it easy for consumers to recognize the logo.
Good for Heavy Items
Substantial items like furniture and electronics are often secured within large corrugated cartons with an industrial stapler that drives wide copper or galvanized industrial staples into the cardboard, securing the heavy item within (which is usually further padded with Styrofoam, bubble wrap, or packing peanuts). Staples act as a sort of reinforcement for the carton, creating an interconnected system that keeps the carton shut in transit, even if its corners or sides are dented or torn during loading and unloading.
Obviously, not all products can be packaged with staples. Liquid and frozen foods may require heat-sealed plastic containers, and items that are at risk from punctures might not be candidates for cartons closed with staples. Nevertheless, using stapled product packaging provides a level of security for items in transit unmatched by other package closure methods. Staples further assist in shipping by securing cartons to pallets and by affixing labels to wooden crates.
There are few things more disappointing than taking delivery of a much-anticipated item, only to discover parts missing or damaged because of shoddy packaging. Manufacturers and retailers who are protective of their brands should consider carefully using staples for product packaging to keep items contained in transit and to ensure they arrive at their destinations complete and free from tampering.