The internet's full of stories of tiny products being shipped to customers in absurdly oversized boxes. It's not only a waste of cardboard, it's also a waste of cargo space as the products are being shipped. But a company called Slimbox thinks it has the solution with a machine that creates custom, perfectly-sized boxes on demand.
The Slimbox machine looks similar to a thickness sander you'd find in a woodshop. But instead of feeding it a two-by-four you need sanded thinner, you insert a flat piece of cardboard into the Slimbox that gets sliced up with a laser cutter to create a template that can then be easily folded into a box that's a perfect fit for whatever you need to ship.
Ensuring that the Slimbox spits out a box that's exactly as big or small as you need is as easy as measuring the object using an included scale, and then feeding the dimensions to the machine using a free accompanying iOS or Android app.
If the object you're shipping is especially heavy, there's the option to create a slightly larger box allowing you to double up the packaging to ensure it arrives safe and sound. And if the item is fragile, the Slimbox can also create supports to better cradle the object, or the machine can slice up the unused cardboard to use as cushioning packing material.
There are no pricing details for the Slimbox just yet, but pre-orders are being accepted for the machine which is expected to ship sometime in September. You'll want to keep in mind that while it can reduce the size of packages you're shipping, and the cost, you'll need to ensure you have a constant supply of corrugated cardboard to feed it.
The machine is also only designed to make one box at a time, leaving you with a lot of scrap cardboard that you'll need to recycle afterwards. There's a good reason companies like Amazon just buy thousands of cheap, mass-produced, standard-sized boxes, so you'll definitely want to crunch the numbers to see if making a custom box or every last item you need to ship is really worth the investment of a dedicated machine.