Packing Pyramids
Duncan Stothers
St George's School
Floor Location : J 026 E

Loose packing materials are used around the world to protect goods during shipping. many commercial packing materials are not biodegradable. In this experiment a new shape of a loose packing material was developed and made out of biodegradable materials. A pyramid shape was chosen (a tetrahedron) to build a new type of packing materials because it is a strong geometric shape. Pyramids were constructed from a recyclable form of paper with a particular pattern of taping of the seams with biodegradable paper tape (first stage of resistance to compression). The pyramid was filled with cotton to provide a cushioning effect when the pyramid was subjected to force (a second stage of resistance to compression). The purpose of the experiment was to compare four different types of loose packing materials to gauge their resistance to crushing and sudden impact. The hypothesis was that a pyramidal shaped loose packing material will compress the least when either a constant or impact force is applied compared to other loose packing materials. Method (gradual compression). A specially designed compression box was built. Gradual increasing weight from 0 kg to 11 kg was applied to a fixed amount of each material. Measurements of compression and photographs of the material were collected to provide qualitative and quantitative data. Method (sudden impact) A specially designed home made force gauge was made and calibrated. Each material was dropped from 75 cm height and the amount of relative compression each material provided was measured and photographs were taken to provide quantitative and qualitative data. The packing materials were compared to no packing as a control. Results: Under a weight of 11 kg, newspaper compressed the greatest with 100 mm of depression followed by packing peanuts, popcorn and finally packing pyramids. Pyramids compressed the least with 10 mm of compression and remained intact. This compared to packing peanuts which not only compressed but also fractured into pieces as did popcorn. Under a sudden impact paper offered the least resistance with the force gauge measuring 230 mm. Popcorn and packing peanuts offered similar resistance and both fractured under the impact. Pyramids offered the best cushioning with the force gauge reading 115 mm. In conclusion, packing pyramids outperformed the most common alternative loose packing materials including paper, popcorn and commercial packing peanuts with less compression noted from both constant pressure and sudden impact. A two stage theory of resistance to force is theorized from the results of this experiment including a two stage form of resistance.