A Better Cardboard Box
December 23, 2013 10:54 PM   Subscribe

Two engineering students attempt to revolutionize the cardboard box
posted by roaring beast (76 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
First impression: it might be a little TOO easy to open. The old school box has a lot of redundancy in terms of what keeps it from opening up completely in transit.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 11:24 PM on December 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


Really though. It should have a tear away strip or something.

As it is though, this could make a sweet gift box if they sold them with custom wrapping paper and variations from cute princessy "reach in to fulfill your destiny" to nerdy space station companion cube "EMERGENCY RELEASE LEVER" type pull-areas.

I could see like, halmark or champion party supplies picking this up as is. But not usps.

It strikes me a bit as engineering student better mousetrap-ism to me, honestly. If it really was this simple and more importantly saved money amazon would have boxes like this already.

I guess the real test is whether amazon or someone along those lines hires or buys out these guys in a month.
posted by emptythought at 11:36 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's a very well executed idea. I'd also be worried at how easy it is to open, but that seems like a fairly easy problem to address. It'll be interesting to see what their real-world trials look like. Shipping people are rarely delicate with cardboard boxes.
posted by spiderskull at 11:36 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Agreed on the opening point, MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch. Also, I'm not a lawyer, but I thought you were supposed to get the patent before showing the technology publicly and failure to do so could invalidate the patent? Not sure.

Overall, the rapid assembly process looked interesting, but I'm not sure how well it would scale for the more common, larger boxes and getting a large heavy box from out of the quick-assembly jig might be a struggle in itself.

The reported cardboard savings are questionable - it doesn't matter if it takes up less cardboard if you haven't reduced the amount of scrap cardboard you throw away, and I don't see any evidence of improvements in that area.

Overall, meh. Not a revolution, but it's good that they're thinking about the problem.
posted by YAMWAK at 11:39 PM on December 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I'd like to see how they behave when they're packed 6-7 boxes high on a wooden pallet. As it is, this seems like the cardboard-box equivalent of stripper pants.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:39 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Somewhat relevant classic TFD strip
posted by dismas at 11:52 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


My first thought was, does less cardboard = less sturdy and less able to cope with the sort of things that happen to boxes during shipping?
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:08 AM on December 24, 2013


It's open along some of the edges. That's a terrible design.
posted by w0mbat at 12:12 AM on December 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


Didn't spot that, w0mbat, very good point. Yeah, I think I'll downgrade my approval from 'meh' to 'bah'.

It's a very precise scale.
posted by YAMWAK at 12:56 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


The reported cardboard savings are questionable

That's an understatement. Just look at the 'standard' cardboard box (at 0:34 in the video)...see how it's cut out of a rectangular piece of cardboard with only a few tiny slits of scrap (for easier folding). Now look at their design. It's a cross. So the four big squares cut out of the corners go where exactly?
posted by sexyrobot at 1:11 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Amazon actually uses a book sleeve that's conceptually similar to this: two sides wrap over the object to form the top of the "box", while the other two sides fold in and over the object. They don't use it for heavy objects and loose objects, which would deform the cardboard and break the "box". Amazon's design is simpler and also can be tiled, which reduces cardboard waste. The design of this one doesn't look as though it tiles, unless I'm missing something.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:12 AM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's no way that's going to survive being kicked around a sorting office
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:05 AM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Improving on something as simple the cardboard box is a pretty tall order, I wonder if they realized this when they were starting the project: It's a very simple object, with a gigantic field of use - all the easy inefficiencies have been worked out of the design already.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:49 AM on December 24, 2013


it doesn't matter if it takes up less cardboard if you haven't reduced the amount of scrap cardboard you throw away, and I don't see any evidence of improvements in that area.

It looks like it's a major step back there. When it's flat it's cruciform. Lots of scrap no matter how you fit them on a sheet of cardboard. It can't tile well, period. An old school box is a simple rectangle, with cuts to create flaps and then glued together to make a loop.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 3:04 AM on December 24, 2013


So... when I open one of these boxes, and it's full of Styrofoam peanuts.... and the box falls completely flat on all sides....
posted by jefflowrey at 3:11 AM on December 24, 2013 [16 favorites]


Plus, how much space do you need for the folding guides for every size of box?
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:25 AM on December 24, 2013


If you are going to turn it inside out to reuse it won't you need your own folding jig? A cardboard box is already good to go - cutting/tearing off or covering a shipping label and resealing isn't exactly difficult.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:33 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I recall correctly, you've got 1 year to file a patent application once you've disclosed your invention publicly.
posted by MikeWarot at 4:10 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks, MikeWarot - good to know if I ever get a good idea.
posted by YAMWAK at 4:11 AM on December 24, 2013


DISCOVER the one weird boxmaking trick that CATS HATE.
posted by radwolf76 at 4:20 AM on December 24, 2013 [19 favorites]


User interface +1, structural integrity -1.
posted by carter at 4:20 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perfect for gift boxes, terrible for shipping.
posted by empath at 4:24 AM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's kind of ideal for theft at any point along the way, because there would be zero evidence of tampering.
posted by empath at 4:25 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guarantee that the first thing anyone using this new box will do is slap some box tape all over it.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:35 AM on December 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


That's an understatement. Just look at the 'standard' cardboard box (at 0:34 in the video)...see how it's cut out of a rectangular piece of cardboard with only a few tiny slits of scrap (for easier folding). Now look at their design. It's a cross. So the four big squares cut out of the corners go where exactly?

Amazon's design is simpler and also can be tiled, which reduces cardboard waste. The design of this one doesn't look as though it tiles, unless I'm missing something.

It looks like it's a major step back there. When it's flat it's cruciform. Lots of scrap no matter how you fit them on a sheet of cardboard. It can't tile well, period. An old school box is a simple rectangle, with cuts to create flaps and then glued together to make a loop.

You can tile a cross onto the plane with no waste.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 4:49 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


1. Invent fancy container.
2. Go viral.
3. Wait for someone else to figure out what to do with it.
4. Profit.
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 4:56 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Greek cross tiling
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 5:00 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't understand the haters. If they're right, this means a lot less demand on environmental resources, and a huge overall reduction in packing cost. It might even mitigate some returns from people who break their tvs trying to pour them out of conventional boxes.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 5:03 AM on December 24, 2013


If it really was this simple and more importantly saved money amazon would have boxes like this already.

Well we sure don't want our engineering students actually thinking like that, do we?
posted by Dr. Zachary Smith at 5:27 AM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Along the idea of gift box lines they need to do a Humanity Test/Gom Jabbar edition.
posted by sourwookie at 5:31 AM on December 24, 2013


I'm going to wait for this to become popular before criticizing it.
posted by orme at 5:38 AM on December 24, 2013 [18 favorites]


> Greek cross tiling

Even though the tiles interlock there is still a lot of waste at the edges of the blank.
posted by ardgedee at 5:41 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


espirit de l'escalier, the box here is more wasteful than existing boxes - yes, cruciform shapes can tessellate, but the edges of the cardboard are still wasted. There is also the expense and difficulties in recycling or otherwise disposing of the scraps that are not used when the box is stamped out. It really is a backwards step in that regard.

Regarding the breakages, as mentioned above, this box will still need to be taped shut to prevent your fancy TV from being 'lost'. The fact that the box is effectively open on the sides means that the TV will be less well protected from the environment and you may well have more TVs being returned for damage.

In an ideal world, it wouldn't be a problem as each TV will be in a protective bag with dry silica gel in a temperature controlled warehouse / lorry with conscientious staff who are sufficiently well paid to never even think of mishandling or 'losing' anything. This is not an ideal world and a good cardboard box will protect your TV from some of the differences.

This box isn't bad, and there are some nice design points in it, but these guys are putting a lot of hype in a video for something that is measurably worse than what we have already.
posted by YAMWAK at 5:44 AM on December 24, 2013


I'm also wondering about the wax sealing strip that has to be applied. That's a new step in the manufacturing process. That will be a big cost in new machines, etc. as well as a new continuing cost for the wax materials.

I can definitely see this design becoming popular at places like the UPS store, Kinkos, etc, where shipping boxes are aimed primarily at smaller consumer uses and come in a limited, standardized set of sizes. I don't see this becoming standard in industrial use, though. Your TV isn't going to be shipped in one of these.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:49 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


espirit de l'escalier, the box here is more wasteful than existing boxes - yes, cruciform shapes can tessellate, but the edges of the cardboard are still wasted. There is also the expense and difficulties in recycling or otherwise disposing of the scraps that are not used when the box is stamped out. It really is a backwards step in that regard.

Those same corners are wasted on regular boxes since they are folded over. So the savings in the non-edge parts of a large sheet of cardboard are new savings, while the losses on the edge would have been lost anyway. Why don't you try an experiment where you calculate how much is lost/saved?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 5:58 AM on December 24, 2013


conscientious staff who are sufficiently well paid to never even think of mishandling or 'losing' anything.

I think warehouses have cameras.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 5:59 AM on December 24, 2013


I think warehouses have cameras.

Of course they do. And we know how well those cameras have deterred theft from boxes where it's been obvious that they've been opened. (A little, but nowhere close to eliminating the problem.)

Those cameras also document when things like this happen, which I wonder how well the new box can withstand. The "wasted" folded-over corners that you mention aren't wasteful if they add to the rigidity of the box and make it more likely to take that kind of treatment without bursting open.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:09 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The saving on the folded over corners are that they do add to structural integrity - the box is stronger for having them. Not necessary, but a stronger box for 'free' is a better box. The other saving is smaller and more subtle.

The factory that stamps out the box will need to handle the waste card. They will need more regular pickups for scrap to get rid of the bits that they do not use. In contrast, the extra card is not going to increase the number of pickups for most industrial and domestic users - they're going to dispose of the rest of the box and the scraps are unlike to be the straw that breaks the camel's back and require an extra pickup or the like, they'll just get very slightly better utilisation of the pickup that they already would have.

Yeah, warehouses have cameras. Ideal world, they would solve the problem. They don't.

To be honest, theft is not my primary concern with these boxes, but they'll need to be taped up anyway. Mishandling is far more of an issue.

Anecdata: one of our suppliers provides a component for our instruments. It came into the factory in boxes, and weighed about 7 kilos (15 lbs). This supplier had a quality problem with their parts and put a tracker with some boxes. The boxes experienced impacts over 50g over the course of their travels. This isn't unusual. That box does not have the structural integrity of the more common boxes. It'll need all the tape it can get.
posted by YAMWAK at 6:18 AM on December 24, 2013


But does it stack well?
posted by furtive at 6:43 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


What kind of facility would these be used in where the boxes are actually assembled and labeled by hand? Don't use a person, when a machine - even an inefficient machine putting together an inefficient box can do this without three 5 minute smoke breaks, a 15 minute break, a half an hour lunch, overtime pay, paid holidays, and any assortment of livable benefits.

The other real test is to half fill that box with oblong heavy objects and jostle the box to see how often the shifting weight unboxes its self.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:03 AM on December 24, 2013


It uses 15% less cardboard, but relative to what? That other box, which is clearly about 30% bigger?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:07 AM on December 24, 2013


Those cameras also document when things like this happen

A boxful of Technoviking?!?
posted by swr at 7:27 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The waste cardboard just gets recycled. Therefore there is no waste.


I said there is no waste.

Now stop asking questions.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:34 AM on December 24, 2013


This was on Reddit the other day and the thread was full of UPS guys going "HAHAHa...No." Said basically that with the way things are stacked in the trucks and the amount of shifting and jostling that they get, these things'd be popping like Redenbacher.

Since they are the ones actually doing the handling for that crucial last mile, I confess I am now skeptical as well...
posted by Diablevert at 7:36 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the idea and am glad people are thinking about it, but I don't think there's any way it would scale to industrial use (as opposed to one-off use for shipment of small items). I could see it being used for some things shipped at the post office, say -- it'd be reasonable to have the folding jig next to a stack of the boxes, and maybe give them festive designs and charge a premium.

It doesn't take a lot of force to open this small box on the little box folding jig, but what if it were a larger one of the size I used to have to open every 40 seconds or so when the packaging line was going full speed? It sounds really painful compared to current practice. With current cardboard boxes, you grab a flat box and push on the opposite corners, and boom, it's open. Then you close the flaps on the bottom, wait for somebody to fill the box with $WIDGET, and close the top flaps. Then you send it through this amazing (and frequently amazingly finicky) taping machine. Next people down the line apply appropriate labels, scan, put it all on a pallet in a specific pattern.

This box doesn't really take the division of labor that exists on a factory production line into account, since it requires more motion from a single person to make it work. Plus I think the ergonomics would be nightmarish with a larger box or heavier use, and it's not like factory work needs any help making ergonomics crappier.

What kind of facility would these be used in where the boxes are actually assembled and labeled by hand?

... An awful lot of them? People are cheaper than a fully automated packaging line. The best most places in the sub-Amazon-warehouse-size category get is people working with help from a variety of fairly simple machines (though that damn taping machine was a total hassle, adhesive gums up the works, y'know.)

It uses 15% less cardboard, but relative to what? That other box, which is clearly about 30% bigger?

I'm willing to give them credit for having done the math right on comparing amount of cardboard in boxes of like size. Like everyone else in this thread, I don't think they're taking waste cardboard in production into account, which is pretty silly. Nor difficulty of production, which would certainly raise the prices on the boxes regardless of how many trees went into making them. I'm fairly certain it's cheaper and faster for cardboard box manufacturers to cut straight lines en masse than this jigsaw stuff.
posted by asperity at 7:37 AM on December 24, 2013


As a general-purpose redesign of the cardboard box, this isn't great. But thinking about redesigning everyday things to produce less waste is a worthwhile thing.

Also, part of the reason why the current design of cardboard box works so well is that we're all so used to them that we instinctively know how to pack them, how to lift them, and when they're likely to fail.
posted by pipeski at 7:38 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


But does it stack well?

Um, possibly not. If you look at the top opening, you have the side flaps, front flap and the lid. The front flap folds over the side flaps and the lid folds over the front flap. The lid is either at an angle (the front flap fold at the same height as the lid fold) or else has a short, unsupported section before its fold.

If it's at an angle then a tower of them will topple fairly easily. If it has an unsupported section to the lid then there could be folding problems (the fold would not be at the weakest point, so care would be needed to make sure that the fold is where it bends).
posted by YAMWAK at 7:41 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Neat, but I keep imagining the one kid as Bruce McCulloch, sneering at Mr. Gorgonchuk.
posted by Mister_A at 7:48 AM on December 24, 2013


Also, come on, don't let's slag on 20-year-old engineering students. This is what they do, let 'em at it. No one is making you buy a gosh darn box. Well except for the Enforcement Arm of the 2013 Montreal International Packaging Protocols, to which the US is a signatory. So they are making you buy these boxes, but no one else is.
posted by Mister_A at 7:51 AM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't have a problem with young engineering students learning their trade. I have a problem with young engineering students selling a backwards step as a revolution. Either they know that their hyperbole is just that, or they need better tutors.

(On preview: yeah, I'm acting like an asshole. Apologies - I don't like to see people selling snake oil, knowingly or otherwise)
posted by YAMWAK at 7:59 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ugh this is the packaging science equivalent of overthinking a plate of beans. A box like this is rotary diecut (DISCLAIMER: former employer). Cutting dies are hand-built to spec, wear out and eventually need to be rebuilt by hand. RSCs are cut with adjustable draw knives, limiting the size of the box to what economically fits on a sheet. Cutting dies not a huge cost in the context of 100k boxes, but it's a cost that the manufacturer is going to charge a premium for -- they're not in the business of selling boxes, they're in the business selling board-feet of corrugated cardboard. If it happens to be in form of a box, great. If it's in the form of a more complex and harder-to-manufacture box, you're going to be paying a lot more.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:04 AM on December 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Either they know that their hyperbole is just that, or they need better tutors.

This looks like typical over-enthusiastic youthful exuberance. Their claims have a bunch of holes (pretty well shot through in this thread) and most of the gains they claim are only within strict parameters because they haven't considered the whole system, just the box itself.

I don't think people should defend the shooting down. That's part of the learning process. I do think that the internet-fed 'just make a viral video with a good idea and you'll be rich' mentality is a little at fault here. This is a very well thought out box idea (in isolation) that fails entirely when you consider the realities of the fuller system it is to be used it, ie stacking, nesting for production, scaling for size (and jig requirements).

Engineers generally learn through failure (theirs or other people's) so failing like this is part of he process. Unfortunately, they seem to have bought into their own hyperbole a bit too much for this failure to be an easy pill to swallow. Concept is good, but system-wide thinking is not.
posted by Brockles at 8:08 AM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's interesting that this is being talked about as though it's obviously a failure, or something that clearly is inferior to the existing design, by assuming claims not made in the video. They compare their design to comically complicated and inneffectual existing boxes because they've watched too many infomercials, not because they believe their box design can replace the other kind in every use case. Or at least that's just as likely an explanation to me, and a much kinder one.

There are quite a few shops I can think of around my town that sell things people usually carry out in boxes. If these were competitive on price, I could see the beatiful unveiling aspect being more than enough to prompt those retailers to switch to them. Maybe that sort of thing is all this box ever gets used for, but if so, would that really be a failure? Do niche or specialty products simply not count in some way?

I don't see them even mention shipping or warehouses in the video, though I might have blinked and missed some claims.
posted by jsturgill at 8:29 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've come to loathe the knee jerk criticism of the interwebs. Suddenly everyone is a packaging expert. Instant assumptions that the 4 or 5 obvious design concerns were not thought of by the inventors.
posted by humanfont at 8:31 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Having worked in a high volume electronics warehouse for a while I can confidently say that these boxes would not work.
posted by dazed_one at 8:37 AM on December 24, 2013


Suddenly everyone is a packaging expert.

Consumers of these things do tend to be experts of a very real sort. They're the ones actually employing the product day-to-day, in the wild. They're the ones who quickly determine the flaws of the design. It's a lot like that redesigned plastic milk jug a couple of years back. It met it's engineering goals...less plastic, more modular for more efficient shipping. One little flaw, though. The design would require consumers to learn a new way of pouring milk from the jug. If I recall, the discussion here broke down along the lines of engineers/geeks who were in love with the awesome design, and consumers who thought it insane to require them to re-learn a simple process like pouring milk.

Instant assumptions that the 4 or 5 obvious design concerns were not thought of by the inventors.

If they were thought of, it would seem that the concerns would have been addressed? As in, "No need to worry about the box popping open in transit. Here's how we solved that problem." A good presentation would address the obvious design concerns. Leaving them unaddressed would seem to say either they didn't see the problems, or didn't have a solution for them and opted to ignore them.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:41 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


humanfront: I have worked in a warehouse. I can confirm that this is a useless box for anything other than decoration.
posted by idiopath at 9:12 AM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


There were a lot of mediocre paper binding methods developed (and patented, and overhyped, and sold)
before the paper clips we use today settled into general stability. Let 'em play with boxes.
posted by davejay at 9:12 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


As someone who has actually worked on a shipping assembly line (Teva (shoes) Mail order warehouse for the record) this box has some real possibilities, but it needs some development to be a viable mail order shipping container.

It would work great as presented for to go gift containers at the point of sale and save SO much time for the poor retail clerk who has to gift wrap for people (worst part of the shoe shipping job BTW). Print the box in fancy colors and maybe some novelty prints and you are golden. That alone is probably a million dollar idea. (empty thought nailed it earlier than I did).

For mail order viability it needs to seal better and easy one touch opening is NOT a great feature for something in a delivery truck. Anything that saves picking up that damn tape gun and dealing with packing tape is a move to be applauded though. I am not sure how to get from what they have to a great mail order box that keeps the great part-the easy to fold and seal part, but solves the other part-the corners are open and it the whole container has a single point failure mode built in. The current USPS flat rate shipping boxes are about halfway there but are still too hard and fiddly to fold.

The other great part of this would be the removal of the packing tape residue in the cardboard recycling stream. That crap gums up the works bad and costs real money to remove from the recycling stream.
posted by bartonlong at 9:51 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Suddenly everyone is a packaging expert.

But that's the thing, you don't even really need to be a packaging expert to see why this won't work. For over a year, I worked in a shipping department that averaged 80lbs boxes, but it would've only taken a week at that job to learn that this box couldn't replace the current one (we would hate a box that falls apart and lands flat when you open it). So yeah, most people who have any small amount of professional shipping/warehouse experience (which is probably quite a few people) have a level of expertise that these designers maybe don't have or aren't considering.

Really, using a guide to build a box? Now my box building is location-dependent? And did you see the guy building the "old" box in the race? He was moving slower than molasses.

I do think you can improve on the basic box, but this really isn't it.
posted by dogwalker at 9:59 AM on December 24, 2013


Metafilter: crushing the spirit of innovation since 1999.
posted by Behemoth at 10:10 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Regarding open edges and tiling, stop the video at 2:01 for a good look at the thing. There are no more open edges than in a standard box with standard single tape over the top and bottom. And it looks like this could be punched out of large cardboard sheets with pretty minimal waste.
posted by beagle at 10:22 AM on December 24, 2013


You say that their concept won't work and yet based on my Christmas shipping experience, their box design shares many elements found in the US Postal service's standard small box for priority mail. The fold up, tab slots and built in adhesive. It seems a bit silly to knock down their idea based on features they've chosen to highlight in a short video. We don't have enough information to raise these as anything more than design problems not discussed, this does not mean they havn't considered it.

Package waste is a big problem and we should encourage solutions.
posted by humanfont at 10:34 AM on December 24, 2013


Important to note that this is a Cooper-Union produced video. This is not their personal pitch vid. I think it is unfair to criticize them for a 'just make a viral video with a good idea and you'll be rich' mentality when this was most likely made by CU's marketing department.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:35 AM on December 24, 2013


Their comparison of assembly time was pretty unfair - that guy was crap at putting together standard boxes. Anyone with a tape gun and a couple weeks warehouse experience can tape up a standard box in about two and half seconds.
posted by echo target at 10:48 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a former 20-something engineering student myself, I can attest that neither hubris nor naiveté are in short supply in that demographic, and the "4 or 5 obvious design concerns" are highly likely to be overlooked if they weren't directly covered in a third year course syllabus. It's not uncommon for a starry eyed student to think their C+ term project has produced a "revolutionary" commercial offering, bless their heart.

Not to say it doesn't happen -- I personally knew a chemical engineering student who did work that revolutionized waste processing for pulp and paper mills -- but there's typically one of these pitches in the upper classes every year, and introducing them to the fact that outside industry is often years ahead of academic practice is part of a well rounded education.


My personal impression regarding their design:
Pros: a built in closure tab and adhesive strip are nice features, that could possibly be grafted onto the traditional box pattern.
Cons: Sides left open and corners less reinforced than traditional boxes = weaker structural support. Also, the traditional design can be easily resized for wider, longer, or deeper box dimensions; can their cruciform pattern do that and still tessellate well?
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:06 AM on December 24, 2013


humanfront Suddenly everyone is a packaging expert.

Not a packaging engineer, but I've spent 10 years doing packaging prepress, including corrugated cartons. If I were at work I'd have proper tools to figure out the most compact nesting for this dieline. But I did a quick 4-out mockup in Illustrator, nested as tightly as I could and scaled it up to fit on a 60"x65.125" sheet. That results in a box that folds into a 9.75" cube.

If you just measure the outside scrap on this stepped layout, you waste about 1200 square inches for every four cartons you make. That's a bit over 32% waste so let's just say 33% to cover some of the interior scrap. To put it this perspective a regular slotted container (RSC - just a plain old box) has around 1% waste, usually less.

Let's plugin real numbers. If you make 100,000 boxes with this diecut you're going to waste over 223,000 square feet of material. You could cover 3.75 football fields with that scrap. If you make the same number of boxes as RSCs, you'll only waste about 27,000 square feet. You could make 46,000 more RSCs just from the scrap pile generated by the diecut box.
posted by nathan_teske at 1:34 PM on December 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


A cardboard box?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:27 PM on December 24, 2013


I see no reason to believe either of these inventors spent even an hour in a shipping department.
posted by odinsdream at 8:40 PM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Suddenly everyone is a packaging expert.

Actually...I do have years of experience designing and testing corrugate packaging as the de facto packaging engineer for a company that sold consumer paper goods to warehouse clubs and other retailers. It's a neat concept but impractical for many, if not most, applications. As someone who has assembled thousands of die-cut cartons and trays over the years - it's a pain in the ass (especially when you consider that RSCs can just be run through a machine that will fold the flaps and tape them). Oh and in the video, the flutes are parallel to the table, there's no stacking strength there, the flutes need to be the other way.
posted by MikeMc at 8:56 PM on December 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think it's notable that they disabled comments and likes/dislikes on the video...
posted by Evilspork at 9:56 PM on December 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


A little humility would have helped in this regard: a lot of the negative opinions would evaporate if their claim was "This is a cool new box idea" rather than "We have come to revolutionize the packaging industry".
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:16 AM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Engineering Professor: "Hello 101 class, for this project you are tasked with re-thinking a common, everyday item that has been streamlined through years of use. This will challenge you to think about improving things that are seemingly un-improvable.

Two Students: Here is our new box!

Engineering Professor: Great work, A+...moving on...

Two Students: Dude, we could make a lot of money with this!

Engineering Professor: I don't think you should...

Two Students: We can do a kickstarter!

Engineering Professor: This was just an exercise...this box won't actually...

Two Students: Tons of money! Social Media! Entrepreneurs! Risk Reward!

Engineering Professor: *sigh*
posted by jnnla at 1:52 AM on December 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Two Students: Tons of money! Social Media! Entrepreneurs! Risk Reward!
You left out "Disruptors!"
posted by Thorzdad at 6:06 AM on December 25, 2013


Re the gift box idea mentioned upthread: greetabl.com

(disclaimer: I know them)
posted by davemessina at 8:15 AM on December 27, 2013


-bucket
-grill
-wheel!
-levitation :P
posted by kliuless at 4:49 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


« Older Grammy-award-winner, multi-platinum artist Amy Gra...  |  Criticising popular things: wh... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments