Insulation Properties of a Paper Cup

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A wraparound helps protect consumers from the heat of the coffee in a paper cup.
A wraparound helps protect consumers from the heat of the coffee in a paper cup. (Image: paper cup with sleeve image by Danuta Kania from Fotolia.com)

Restaurants and coffee shops use paper cups to serve coffee and other beverages. They are convenient to use and easy to dispose of. However, one drawback is that paper cups do not offer high insulation. This means that customers' hands are exposed to the blistering heat of the liquid inside when they hold the cup. There are some layering techniques coffee shops use to improve the insulation properties of a paper cup.

Insulated Wrap

One way of improving the insulation properties of a paper cup is to cover it with an insulated wrap. These overwraps also provide an opportunity for advertisers to target customers and generate additional income for the coffee shop. Machines manufacture these overwraps to provide a thermal barrier. They also make the thin paper cups stronger and more rigid.

Multilayer Cups

Paper-cup manufacturers have make paper cups with many layers. This improves the insulation properties of a paper cup. One multilayer paper-cup version combines an insulating liner with a decorative, corrugated outer layer. In addition to better insulation, this provides an opportunity for advertisers to print on the outside of the cup.

Styrofoam Cups Versus Paper Cups

The manufacture of disposable cups for coffee shops is big business. According to Paper Machinery Corporation, American consumers were expected to use more than 23 million paper cups in 2010. Some coffee shops also use Styrofoam cups to serve coffee and tea. Compared with paper, Styrofoam offers better insulating capabilities. This means consumers get better protection from the hot coffee in a Styrofoam cup. However, paper cups are more environmentally friendly and easier for advertisers to use, so they are more likely to be used in coffee shops. Styrofoam cups are difficult to print, and therefore advertise, on.

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