Package handle

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Paint can with bail handle

Package handles, or carriers, are used to help people use packaging. They are designed to simplify and to improve the ergonomics of lifting and carrying packages[1][2][3]. Handles on consumer packages add convenience and help facilitate use and pouring. The effect of handles on package material costs and the packaging line efficiencies are also critical. A handle can be defined as “an accessory attached to a container or part for the purpose of holding or carrying.”[4] Sometimes a handle can be used to hang a package for dispensing or use.

Handles can be built into a package, sometimes in the form of hand holes or hand holds. They can also be attached to a finished complete package after filling and closing, or even at the point of purchase.

The performance and design criteria for handles are often detailed in a contract or specification. For example handles for some US government containers are specified in Mil-Std-648.[5]


People have long seen a need to have package forms which are easy for people to carry and to use. Some of these, such as amphora, date from the Neolithic period.


Wooden boxes often have metal handles nailed or otherwise attached to the ends to facilitate handling. Steel boxes also frequently have attached handles or hinged bails.

Corrugated boxes can have hand holes die-cut into the ends to assist material handling tasks[6]. Several designs are in use.[7] [8] Care must also be taken for the hand holes not to weaken the strength of the box.[9][10][11]

Depending on the contents and the degree of handling required, reinforcement is sometimes needed to prevent tearing. Reinforcing tapes, whether pressure -sensitive or heat-activated, can be applied to boxes in the vicinity of hand holes.[12][13]

Separate plastic or composite fitments are also available for corrugated boxes.[14] [15]

Plastic bottles[edit]

Many plastic containers have built in handles. Plastic shipping containers and storage tubs often have handles molded into them. Consumer blow molded containers often have integral handles or are shaped to facilitate grasping.[16][17]

Ssparate handles are sometimes added to a bottle, usually around the neck at the closure. Several methods have been developed.[18] [19] [20] [21] [22]


Many types of bags have handles to assist in carrying them.

Multi-packs of beverage containers[edit]

Shrink wrapped Multi-packs often have open ends (bulls eyes) which can be used as handles. Methods are available to reinforce the film, if needed. [23][24] Handles are often used on beverage carriers.

Tape handle[edit]

Six water bottles with tape handle. Transparent tape and red foam applied to shrink film prior to application and shrink tunnel.

Pressure sensitive tape is often used as a handle: filament tape or strong film backed tapes (polypropylene or polyester). A loop can be applied over a package with paper or film used to cover the adhesive in the center portion. Another example with a shrink film package is for a tape to be applied to a film with slits cut in the film on either side of the tape. When the film shrinks, the tape does not and a handle is formed.[25] PSA tape handles can be built into the package structure or can also be added after package completion.[26] Specialized application machinery is sometimes available.[27]

Bail handle[edit]

A bail handle consists of an open loop with ends attached to the item or package, sometimes to fixed mounts or ears. Several designs are available: bails are typically made of metal (wire) or plastic. It is a type of package handle which may be used for carrying or hanging items such as cans, pails, or jars.


Several package testing options are available to packaging engineers to help determine the suitability of package handles.

People can be used directly in an evaluation. Several different people can carry (and even abuse) handle and package options for subjective ratings. These can be compiled in a report[28].

More objective laboratory procedures are also used. Fixtured ‘’hands’’ of various designs are used to hold a handle (sometimes two handles for a box). ASTM International D6804, Standard Guide for Hand Hole Design in Corrugated Boxes, describes “jerk testing’’ by modified drop test procedures or use of the constant pull rates of a Universal testing machine; these test procedures are also used on other types of packages.[29][30] Other test procedures are conducted with a static force by hanging a heavily loaded package for an extended time or even using a centrifuge.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling (PDF), California Department of Industrial Relations, 2007, p. 32, retrieved April 2, 2019
  2. ^ Davis, K G (1998). "Reduction of spinal loading through the use of handles" (PDF). Ergonomics. 41 (8): 1155–1168. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  3. ^ Wang, Mao-Jiun J. (Winter 2000). "The Effect of Handle Angle on MAWL, Wrist Posture, RPE, and Heart Rate". Human Factors: 553–565. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  4. ^ Soroka, W (2008). Glossary of Packaging Terminology. IoPP. p. 103. ISBN 1-930268-27-0.
  5. ^ MIL-STD-648D, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE DESIGN CRITERIA STANDARD, SPECIALIZED SHIPPING CONTAINERS (PDF), 10 April 2008, pp. section 4.17, retrieved 26 April 2018
  6. ^ Nogueira, H C (2018). "Adding Handles to Optimize Manual Box Handling". BioMed Research International. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  7. ^ ASTM D6804 Standard Guide for Hand Hole Design in Corrugated Boxes, ASTM International, 2015
  8. ^ ‹See Tfd›US3094268A, ‹See Tfd›Swanson, "Carrying handle construction for cartons", published 1963 
  9. ^ Han, Jongkoo; Park (January 2007). "Finite element analysis of vent/hand hole designs for corrugated fibreboard boxes". Packaging Technology and Science. 20 (1): 1–76. doi:10.1002/pts.741.
  10. ^ Singh, J (2008), "The Effect of Ventilation and Hand Holes on Loss of Compression Strength in Corrugated Boxes", J Applied Packaging Research, 2 (4): 227–238, retrieved 2 April 2018
  11. ^ ‹See Tfd›US4037777A, ‹See Tfd›Maughan, "Handhole closure for containers", published 1977 
  12. ^ ‹See Tfd›US4567070A, ‹See Tfd›Karass, "Fibrous material reinforcing tape, method of making the same and containers reinforced by said tape", published 1986 
  13. ^ ‹See Tfd›US4817866A, ‹See Tfd›Wonnacott, "Packaging", published 1989 
  14. ^ ‹See Tfd›US20040007612A1, ‹See Tfd›Johansen, "Box hand hole reinforcement and method of use", published 2004 
  15. ^ ‹See Tfd›US3774836A, ‹See Tfd›Nunn, "Carton having tape handle", published 1973 
  16. ^ Birkby, David (May 2014). "PET bottle handle—N.A. success story". Canadian Packaging. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  17. ^ Widiyati, Khusnun (2013). "The Ease of Grasping to Evaluate Aesthetically Pleasing PET Bottle Design". Journal of Advanced Mechanical Design, Systems, and Manufacturing. 7 (5): 849–861. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  18. ^ ‹See Tfd›EP0026557A1, ‹See Tfd›Newman, "Combination of a carrier assembly and a pair of containers", published 1979 
  19. ^ ‹See Tfd›US4509639A, ‹See Tfd›Thompson, "Multi-container carrier package and a method of assembly therefor", published 1985 
  20. ^ ‹See Tfd›US4093295A, ‹See Tfd›Erickson, "Bottle carrier", published 1975 
  21. ^ ‹See Tfd›US4257525A, ‹See Tfd›Thompson, "Bottle with attached handle", published 1979 
  22. ^ ‹See Tfd›US5788302A, ‹See Tfd›Barrash, Ferguson, "Bottle carrier", published 1997 
  23. ^ ‹See Tfd›US7775349B2, ‹See Tfd›Walker, "Shrink-wrap packaging incorporating reinforced integral handle", published 2010 
  24. ^ ‹See Tfd›US20070215504A1, ‹See Tfd›Walker, "Shrink-wrap packaging incorporating reinforced integral handle", published 2007 
  25. ^ ‹See Tfd›US4700528A, ‹See Tfd›Bernard, "Heat shrink package handle", published 1987 
  26. ^ ‹See Tfd›US6647649B2, ‹See Tfd›Lawrence, "Pressure-sensitive adhesive tape handle construction", published 1962 
  27. ^ ‹See Tfd›US5186542A, ‹See Tfd›Siebold, "Tape handle for a container and method for construction thereof", published 1992 
  28. ^ Diringer, J. A. (2016). Evaluation of Durability of Nonwoven Polypropylene Grocery Bags Under Routine Use (MSc). Clemson University. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  29. ^ ‹See Tfd›US4269322A, ‹See Tfd›Larson, "Flexible bail assembly", published 1980 
  30. ^ Diringer, J. A. (2016). Evaluation of Durability of Nonwoven Polypropylene Grocery Bags Under Routine Use (MSc). Clemson University. Retrieved April 2, 2019.

Further reading[edit]