Cardboard boxes given aerospace treatment

New Zealand’s export industry is heavily reliant on cardboard boxes, and understanding how boxes fail under heavy loads is crucial. Until now, scientists have only been able to observe how boxes look before and after failure.

Scion materials scientist Namasivayam Navaranjan recently worked alongside structural mechanics scientists at Monash University’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in Melbourne to use lock-in infrared thermography to measure the tiny heat change in a box as it was placed under an increasingly heavy load. This proved extremely quick and reliable.

Future collaboration with partners such as Massey University and Carter Holt Harvey will further develop this technology for use in the engineering of boxes that are capable of withstanding stresses. This will reduce the cost of over designed boxes to both packaging manufacturers and exporters.

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Box thermograph image

Dissipated energy in a box just prior to failure. The green area in the centre is a hand-hold in the box. Red, yellow and white colours indicate maximum stress. Stress is spreading left and right along a failure path away from the hand-hold and towards the sides of the box.