Any suggestions for artwork packaging?
September 21, 2012 11:31 AM   Subscribe

I work for a company that ships mounted photographs on a regular basis. Can you recommend any materials for packaging that is almost as durable as plywood, but lighter and cheaper?

The way we package things right now is based on the artwork itself. For things mounted to aluminium, dibond, or acrylic or custom frame, we will actually build custom heavy-duty crates for them. For things mounted to foamcore or gatorboard, we are currently wrapping the artwork in foam, then with many pieces of cardboard and then plywood on the front and back. We want something lighter and easier to handle but also just as durable. Also, the other problem with this is that the corners aren't necessarily protected. We are considering masonite. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
posted by joni. to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
Luan plywood. It's used for cabinet making. Make the plywood pieces a couple inches larger than the artwork, that will protect the artwork corners.
posted by cosmicbandito at 11:34 AM on September 21, 2012

How big and heavy are these? I've ordered mounted, framed (with glass) and canvas gallery wrap photos up to 24x36" from WHCC, and they always just ship them in cardboard. It's thick, stiff cardboard (sometimes multiple layers), and they have padded triangles they put over the corners. The print is wrapped in thick plastic and usually bubble wrap, strapped to a large cardboard sheet, and then that is packaged in what appears to be a custom-sized cardboard box (at least in that it always seems to be exactly the right size for what they shipped). I've never received anything damaged in any way. I unfortunately don't have any photos of the packaging, and it's been a while since I received one so I don't remember all the specifics. But unless they're really huge and/or heavy, I think it can be done with cardboard.
posted by primethyme at 11:46 AM on September 21, 2012

If you softwrap and cardboard the piece you can get foam pipe insulation lengths and cut two triangles from it fold, tape to corners and you have really good corner protection. There are options like Astroboard which is an acrylic laminate, much lighter than ply and similar strength, it is, however, significantly more expensive.

You could also consider building museum travel frames like this, that way you cut down on ply used and weight. A corrugated plastic sheet could then be used to cover the front surface.

What thickness of ply are you using? How big is the largest piece you ship?
posted by multivalent at 11:53 AM on September 21, 2012

This is a link for corner protection stuff I was talking about.
posted by multivalent at 11:55 AM on September 21, 2012

Have you considered hiring a professional?
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:15 PM on September 21, 2012

I basically do the same job where I work, and I've used masonite for years without problems. It's easier to cut than luan plywood, but is just as good for puncture resistance.

And I agree with cosmicbandito that just cutting the pieces a bit larger than the work will do the job to protect the corners.
posted by bill the tinman at 1:23 PM on September 21, 2012

Chipboard/waferboard is cheaper than plywood. Not sure on the weight, but I'm guessing your art pieces are oversize most of the time anyhow, so the weight probably isn't an issue.
posted by adamrice at 1:37 PM on September 21, 2012

Use masonite! Unlike plywood, it doesn't contain formaldehyde resin, so people who are allergic to that should have no problems.
posted by limeonaire at 7:55 PM on September 21, 2012

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