Posted by Tanner Messner (Designer) on September 04, 2014
A lot of our customers call us without having any clue about what brand and size case they should buy. Most people seem to focus on the case itself rather than the foam inside the case that hold your products and equipment in place. Having the right foam can be a be a big factor in protecting your items inside the case. Some companies go through weeks worth of testing to make sure they have just the right amount of cushioning around their products and some customers simply buy Pick and Pluck foam. Both pick and pluck and custom foam have their pros and cons. Below explains the pros and cons of each option.
Pick and Pluck Foam (Cubed Foam)
Pros - Inexpensive, Quick, Easy
Cons - Material, Lifetime, Messy
Pick and Pluck foam is typically the standard option with big name brand case manufacturers like Pelican and SKB. Pick and Pluck allows you to buy a case off the shelf and customize the interior foam to fit around your equipment fairly well. However, Pick and Pluck foam only last so long before it breaks down into hundreds of small loose cubes of foam. If you are creative enough, you can make Pick and Pluck foam last longer than its intended life. Using additional material to glue your layers together helps keep the foams shape. Taking a piece of cardboard or plastic and adhering it to the base of each layer of Pick and Pluck reinforces each layer for a longer life. You can also glue each layer together to make it seem like the layers are all one single foam insert. Each of these methods require you to create your cutouts in the foam first and then think about how you are going to reinforce it.
Pros - Precision, Customization, Lifetime, Material Options
Cons - More Expensive, Lead Time
Custom Foam, in my opinion, is the way to go it you have the time and a little extra money. With foam, you really do get what you pay for. Custom foam is usually about a 2-3 week lead time but depends on the complexity of what the customer is asking for. The costs can vary dramatically depending on the size, material, quantity, and complexity of the inserts. There are many different ways that we can go about designing a custom foam insert for your equipment. Since most of our customers are located around the country, a lot of the design is done off of CAD files, pictures, item model numbers, and dimensions customers provide us. We work close with the customer to be sure its exactly what they want before we cut anything. A drawing is always provided to the customer for approval before we move into the production stages.
There are many different ways to actually cut the foam as well. We can use Water Jet, Die, Cut, Band Saw, Hot Wire, and CNC machining. Each option has its benefits and we choose which one is best based on the jobs foam material, quantity, and characteristics. We can use just about any foam material when making custom foam inserts but particular materials can only be cut a certain way.
I have designed some custom foam inserts for some very interesting items in the past. From rubber human torsos to AR-15's, it's always a smart idea to customize your foam if you have a little extra time and money. It's worth the investment!
InCase Packaging LLC
All prices are in USD.