Fluid physics of telescoping cardboard boxes

Jolet De Ruiter, Emil Visby Østergaard, Sean Marker, Kaare H. Jensen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The economics, environmental impact, and mechanical properties of paper-based storage containers have been widely studied. However, knowledge of the physical processes relevant to the end-user experience is unavailable. This paper outlines the main effects associated with the closing and opening of telescoping boxes, which are used, for instance, to store and transport board games, footwear, mobile phones, and tablet computers. The sliding motion of the lid is controlled by the flow in a thin film of air in the gap separating the lid and the base of the box. Based on a broad comparison between theory and experiments on real and synthetic boxes, we find that the process is primarily controlled by the shape of the gap between the base and the lid. We derive a master equation for the lid motion and identify the origin of three distinct experimental regimes. Finally, an optimal design for a rapidly closing box is identified.

Original languageEnglish
Article number044101
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number4
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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