Drum (container)

For other kinds of drums, see drum (disambiguation).

A drum is a cylindrical container used for shipping bulk goods. Drums can be made of steel, dense paperboard (Commonly called Cardboard drums — See Footnote) or plastics, and are generally used for the transportation of certain dangerous materials or modest quantities of bulk goods. For caustic and acid materials, plastics, usually thermoplastics like Nylon, Polystyrene, Polyvinyl chlorides ( PVCs) or possibly Polycarbonates are the prefered shipping container; for flammable substances like most petroleum distillates, and alchohol, etc., metal containers are the standard. Which type is used for shipping non-corrosive industrial chemicals would depend on the chemicals or materials, but the general rule would be to use the container type that is inert or non-reactive with the material being shipped.

It is common to hear a drum refered to as a barrel in the United States, and some would argue that barrels hold liquids while drums are open topped (see British 44 gallon drum), but in every day USA style English useage, the two terms are used near interchangably in the vernacular. Drums such as these have a standard nominal volume of 55 US gallons (44 Imperial gallons) and are refered to properly as 55 gallon drums and nominally measure just under 34-1/2" tall with a diameter just under 24" and differ by holding about thirteen gallons more than a Barrel of Crude Oil one hears about (the quoted price of) in the daily financial new reports. In the US, 25 gallon drums are also in common use and have the same height specification. This sameness allows easy stacking of mixed pallets. Taking account the materials making up the drum, in the vernacular, these three main varieties are known as plastic drums or barrels, cardboard Drums or barrels and steel drums or barrels.

The two common sub-types of drums are the open top and the welded top (with 2” bung holes). The later are almost universally called 'barrels' in preference to drums in the US. They cannot efficaciously either dispense or be filled with powdered goods, though they might store them very well, so are not used for such goods, being reserved for liquids transport and storage. Plastic drums are manufactured using injection blow moulding technology. Metal drums are hot rolled into long pipelike sections then Forged on a Stamping Press while still red hot into drum bodys. A welded rolled seam, is then made for the drum bottom, or bottom and top both.

Standard drums have reinforcing rings of thickened metal or plastic at four places: Top, Bottom, and one each a third of the way from each end ring. This sufficienly strengthens them so that they can be readily be turned on their sides and rolled when filled with heavy materials, like liquids. Over short to medium distances, drums are generally tipped and rolled on the bottom rim while being held at an angle, balanced, and rotated with a two handed top grip that also supplies the torque (rotational or rolling force).

The open top sub-type is sealed by a mechanical ring clamp(concave inwards) that exerts sufficient pressure to hold many non-volitle liquids and make an air tight seal against a gasket, as it exerts force inward and downward when tightened by a normal three-quarter inch wrench or rachet wrench. Tops exist with bung holes as above, and these hybrid drums cum lid can be used to ship many non-volitile liquids as well as industrial powders. Many drums are used to ship and store powdered products as well as liquids, such as plastic beads for injection moulding, extrusion, and purified industrial grade powders like cleansers (e.g., fertilizers, and powered aluminum). If used to transport dangerous goods across international boundaries, they may need to have UN certification. In general, drum useage is limited to wholesale distribution of bulk products, which are then further processed or sub-divided in a factory.

Todays' 55 gallon drum resulted from military shipping requirements and specifications circa World War I, the first modern war where trucks, cold rolled steel, stamp or pattern forging machinery and welding were widely available making mass produced standardized shipping containers feasible. The 55 gallon drum will fit handily four to a fork truck standard wooden shipping pallet and so greatly ease material handling and rapid shipping. The drums size, shape, and weight distribution lends itself readily to being moved about readily on the loading dock or factory floor with a two wheeled Hand Truck.

The now ubiquitous welded top steel drums played a vital strategic role in the first United States strategic offensive in the South Pacific Theater during World War II, in particular, though a huge part of the allied effort on all fronts. This happened because neither side could maintain Control of the Seas (or SLOC - Sea Line of Communications) during the Battle of Guadalcanal (7 August 1942 - 9 February 1943); The Japanese Navy was held to night operations because the Marine Aviators on the island could bomb by day keeping the stronger Japanese fleet at arms length, but only because of the lowly fuel drum. The much needed aviation fuel was off-loaded from ships (frequently as deck cargo on fast ships like destroyers) in the daylight using the technique of off loading the barrels by simply shoving them over the sides (or time permitting, lowering them in cargo nets), where they were corraled and pulled to shore by navy Seabees in a variety of small craft. Aviation fuel is significantly lighter than seawater so the drums floated allowing this expedience. Normal freight handling would have taken too long to sustain the aircraft on Guadalcanal, dubbed by the colorful moniker, The Cactus Airforce. This freed up precious time and resources, for the most part, to offload and land less compliant goods lower priority goods and materials like food, weapons, medicines, et al. For months while new construction gradually augmented the allied naval strength, the allied ships would pull out again at night fell - when the Tokyo Express ran in reinforcements for the Japanese under strong naval escort.

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The term Dense paperboard as used above is called by makers and users in the wholesale paper-businesses: Cardboard, but that term has a different meaning entirely to the lay person outside those industries involved with paper. Thus this note.

  • 'Cardboard Drums' as meant above should not construed to mean 'Corregated Paperboard Drums'. Such a miscontruction would not have enough thickness or binding resins, and soon collapse if it were used. The Cardboard drums refered to above will easily hold 400 — 600 pounds, and are usually coated internally with a urethane or plastic protective coating. They have steel reinforcement rims at their ends, and are sufficiently strong that this is the only type of drum that is not reinforced in the middle third, but that is almost certainly due to the difficulty in creating a 'Vee' rib in a paper layer that essentially spirals out from a single end seam.
  • Equivilent terms using the the industry technical names for the vernacular ubiquitous cardboard box — would be expressed: "Corregated Paperboard Box — but that's the paper industry usage and technical meaning of the terms!
  • To Clarify further, Three Sheets of cardboard (or paperboard) are fed (threaded on huge spools) into a corregator and come out of the machine as an corregated panel. The corregated panels are fed into a box forming machinge, and a corregated carton comes out. Within the industry, Cardboard boxes are used to ship Toothpaste, Cosmetics, jewlery cases, frozen foods, etc. where the contents are usually being protected from minor shipping damage, or marketing pretty printing is overlaid (e.g. - almost any boxed food package). Thus the industry terms paperboard and cardboard are raw materials for additonal processing equipment, and cardboard is just refered to in the vernacular as a Box, whereas the industry corregated carton is what the vernacular uses as Cardboard Box. [[User:Fabartus| fabartus || TalktoMe]] 20:29, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)



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