Returnable Packaging

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Returnable Packaging Terminology - Machinery, Services, & More

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What is Returnable Packaging? In this post, we will continue to help answer that question. Below you will find terms for machinery and services offered in the reusable packaging world with links to more in-depth descriptions/explanations/examples.

Class A Surface

This is a part with a surface that can’t be scratched, marred, or blemished in any way. Think of almost any part of a vehicle or airplane, the door on your washing machine or oven, the face of a kitchen drawer/cabinet. These are all examples of parts that need to be in pristine condition throughout the entire manufacturing process.

Rolled Edge

On this type of edge, the laminate is continued from inside the cell over the top edge and into the next cell. No lip to catch your parts, no bowing of the cells, and the price isn’t much more than just a standard lamination. There are only a couple of packaging suppliers that execute this process.

Hot Rolled Edge

This heated process takes the rough edge of a plastic corrugated divider, pad, or sleeve panel, heats the edge, and rolls it over to make a smooth, rounded surface edge.

Die Cutting

A process whereby a die is used to cut through materials such as paper and plastic corrugated on a die press. The process allows you to make an identical cut into material numerous times. For each job, a die, which is a shaped blade, is custom-made for the item being created.

CNC Table

Not only can they cut, score, and mill at high speeds, but it also saves time and reduces waste with the ability to transfer CAD files to the table directly. The tables eliminate the need for die-cutting in most cases as well. They bring a high level of versatility with the capability to cut many materials, such as foam, plastic corrugated, and solid sheet HDPE.

3D Printer

A machine that allows the creation of a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, typically by laying down many thin layers of a material in succession.

3-Axis CNC Router

3-axis machining is one of the most used techniques in the industrial process. Using 3-axis machines allows the router to work on the material on 3 axes - X, Y, and Z. For returnable packaging, it can quickly produce robust, heavy-duty divider sets, pads, foam blocks, and machined parts.

Waterjet Machine

Waterjet cutting is simply an accelerated erosion process within a selected material. Highly pressurized water is fired through a ruby or diamond nozzle into a mixing chamber. This pressure creates a vacuum and draws garnet sand into the stream where it is then fired at the object in place for cutting. The sand particles "eat away" at the material causing the effect of erosion to happen so fast that it is considered cutting.

The edge quality produced by the waterjet is a function of speed, pressure, nozzle size, and abrasive flow rate. Waterjet foam cutting eliminates the need for secondary finishing, thus creating significant time savings and improving efficiency.


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