What is the difference between filling and cushioning material?

A package is filled with filling material

To protect against damage during shipping, many packages and shipments are equipped with filling and/or cushioning material. Nowadays it is very important to know what the difference is and when which variant should be used. Because with the right application, your products are optimally protected, they are packaged more efficiently and possibly also much more sustainably.

When filling and protecting as well as cushioning cartons and their contents, there are many different options.

The first thing you should know is whether you are only going to fill the void space in the box to prevent products from sliding around or if you are shipping products that need extra protection.



Filling material is needed to fill voids in cartons and packages. This is available in paper as well as LDPE or HDPE cushions (film products) and other materials such as potato starch or recycled material.

When you use filling material made of paperthere are several systems that can be used. For example, there are manual systems, such as Polsterbosswhere you pull the paper out of a dispenser and fill it into the box. This system has the advantage of being made of 100% recycled material, which makes it very sustainable. It is easy to tear off and process. Due to the fact that no electrical device is needed for processing, the risk of a technical defect can be eliminated. They do not consume electricity and are therefore not dependent on a power source. Upholstering with Polsterboss can be very flexible , especially with the ingenious table version, which can be swiveled as well as adjusted in any direction.

If you do not want to process the paper by hand, you can also use a paper padding machine such as Protect-Fill work. This system has an incredibly fast paper output, so even large voids in packages are filled in seconds. Due to the machine fluting, the paper achieves a very high volume, so that consumption is kept very low.

Air cushions in the form of air cushion chains are also excellent filling material. Systems such as the ProtectAir Air Cushion System offer a whole range of possibilities. The advantages of air cushions are:

  • much less need for storage (as the air cushions are produced on site with the help of the device)
  • very low material consumption (as mainly air is used for cushioning)
  • Air cushions do not lose volume as easily as, for example, a filling of paper

With equipment like the ProtectAir Plus air cushioning machine, the application is super easy and very efficient. So you can pack sustainably and efficiently with little material!



To protect products in the carton, so-called cushioning material (also called padding) is used.

Styrofoam chips, which were used in the past, are completely outdated nowadays. In terms of application, these chips are not efficient and are not recommended from a sustainability point of view (except when made of corn starch).

Paper, on the other hand, can be used to create very sustainable and durable cushions. An example of this is the ProtectPaper paper cushioning system.

The device can be used to produce very strong cushioning pads that can be placed crosswise in a carton, for example, before sensitive goods are packed. You can use this to build up an all-round protective paper layer that optimally secures your products against damage.

There are various papers available for ProtectPaper , such as a 100% recycled paper, different grammages or even double paper layers. It always depends on how much space there is in the carton and how heavy the goods are.

Air cushions are also a very good form of cushioning material. Systems like ProtectAir can produce air cushions in the form of air cushion mats (as opposed to air cushion chains for filling), which are available in many different shapes and multiple materials. These include, for example, paper air pillows, organic films made from potato starch, 100% recycled films, or even very thin but strong films made from LDPE/HDPE.

The advantages here are:

  • the material consumption is very low due to the high air content
  • the application is very clean, fast and efficient at the same time
  • Air cushions do not  lose their cushioning effect as quickly as paper cushions!



Cushioning material and filling material are not the same thing. Cushioning material provides product protection, while filling material only prevents slipping around in the carton. Both can be solved with paper as well as with air cushions.