Thinking inside the box: Machine makes boxes based on contents


If you run a business that ships a lot of items, then you no doubt want the shipping process to be as efficient as possible. That means you probably don't wish to search around for boxes of the right size for each shipment, use up excessive packing material, or pay shipping charges for boxes that are larger than necessary … which is why Belgian start-up Fit Things created Slimbox. It's a machine that builds boxes on the spot, based on measurements of the goods.

The user starts by measuring the length, width and height of the item, and entering that information on a free iOS/Android app on their smartphone or tablet. The app then creates a computer model of the box needed.

That data is subsequently transmitted to the Slimbox machine itself. It takes a flat sheet of corrugated cardboard, and uses a laser to make perforated cuts in it where the folds will need to be made. The user then does the actual folding, ending up with a lidded box made to their specifications.

If the item being shipped is particularly heavy, it's possible to have a second box made that's just slightly larger, so it will fit snugly around the first one. The machine can also create holders and/or partitions to go within the box, plus it can cut up the unused cardboard to serve as packing material.

A rep from Fit Things tells us that the company isn't releasing pricing information just yet, although interested parties can get a quote via the product website. Production should start in the next few months, while deliveries are expected to begin next September.

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