Thinking Outside the Box: Hand Holes as a Product of Careful Design

13 August 2018

Hand holes are designed and implemented onto corrugated boards to facilitate safer carrying when they are turned into boxes. This feature is especially useful when the size or weight of the item(s) in the box is quite significant. Televisions, printers, windows, doors, and many other types of products typically come in boxes with hand holes, but these convenient design elements are not as easy to create and implement as many consumers think.

Hand holes require more than simply cutting holes on to a corrugated blank. This misconception leads to many failures each year when poorly designed hand holes are used – some of which lead to injuries.

Before the holes are cut, some factors need to be taken into consideration in relation to the construction of the boxes themselves. They should be engineered to have a high strength to weight ratio. When being used as packaging materials for the aforementioned items, the corrugated board should be doubled wall. This is because single walled boards will be too weak, whereas triple walled boards are usually used for very heavy loads that require the help of machinery to carry, and therefore will not be necessary for standard purposes.

When it comes to the flute, although not as sustainable, virgin Kraft is stronger than recycled materials, therefore where heavy items are concerned, it should be used as a measure of safety. Despite this, when it comes to double walled boards, different flutes should be used in each layer as the differences in height and number-per-linear-unit will lead to a box that can handle more resistance.

Regardless of what style of box is used, hand holes will require some other careful planning, namely the location of the hand holes and how the bottom will be secured. The latter is important, as when a box is lifted via hand holes near the top of the box, the weight will be supported by the bottom, and if not secured it will fail. However, if the hand holes are too high, even if the bottom is secure the box may still fail as there isn’t enough room between the holes and the top panel.

When removing parts of the board and the box to create hand holes, the structure becomes weaker. Because of this issue, manufacturers need to consider the trade-offs between functionality and practicality. Hand holes designed for pulling and lifting will be different, and the expected use has to be taken into consideration. Moreover, you want the hand holes to be big enough so they are suited to the largest demographic, without sacrificing too much strength. Reinforcements like plastic inserts can be used to prevent hand holes from failing, however they are an additional cost measure, and if the suggestions mentioned in this article are all taken into consideration, they should not be needed.

To receive more expert advice, while catching up on all the developments in the Corrugated and Folding Carton industry, come to CCE South East Asia from 5-7 September. This exhibition brings together manufacturers and suppliers, and will include workshops, seminars, and plenty of chances for networking across the industry. CCE South East Asia will be held at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Center, and is the region’s only event of this type.

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