What is VCI Packaging and How Does It Work?

vci packaging on part

This post was written with Thomas White, Marketing Manager at Zerust.

What is VCI?

VCIs (Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors or Volatile Corrosion Inhibitors) have been around since the 1940s when they began to be coated onto paper. In 1979, Northern Technologies International Corporation (NTIC) made two significant innovations, NTIC not only managed to introduce a new VCI chemical system to the market that was used as a common food additive (sodium nitrite) but was also able to successfully impregnate this additive into plastic films. By the early 1980s, NTIC started to sell VCI products under the brand name Zerust which left customers with a few common questions: What is VCI and how does it work?

How Does VCI Work?

Vapor corrosion inhibitors (VCIs) are substances that slowly release a corrosion-preventative compound into sealed air space, effectively protecting exposed metal surfaces. VCIs are often used in situations where it is impractical or undesired to use rust-preventative liquids or other surface treatments. The compounds that VCIs release into the air space actively prevent corrosion by forming strong bonds with a metal surface, promoting and maintaining the natural and healthy passive oxide layer on the metal. The VCI layer that forms is invisible and dry, and does not affect the physical properties or functionality of the metal in any way. The protected metal can be painted, treated, and/or used straight out of the Zerust package without further cleaning.

Types of VCI Products

VCI Paper - VCI paper packaging offers corrosion protection for metal parts in shipping and storage and can be used as added protection to VCI poly packaging products. Zerust VCI paper products are acid-free, pH neutral, and are sourced from responsibly managed forests. They are produced in the USA without bleaching agents and in facilities powered by renewable energy.

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VCI Film - VCI packaging films are available in many stock and custom options. VCI Film comes in a range of sizes and MIL thicknesses and can be made in VCI plastic sheets, tubing, J-sheeting, and c-fold sheeting. Some stock bag options are flat VCI bags, zipper bags, and VCI gusset liners. A range of metal protection types are available as well as acid-gas scavenging technology and additives such as ESD (electrostatic discharge) and UV (Ultraviolet) protection can be incorporated.

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VCI Emitters and Diffusers- VCI emitters (also known as VCI diffusers) provide targeted corrosion protection in hard-to-reach enclosed spaces or can be used as added protection to VCI packaging products. VCI Emitters emit powerful Zerust corrosion-inhibiting molecules into an enclosure that settle on metal surfaces and protect them from corrosion. They are safe for electronics, odorless, non-toxic, residue-free, and designed to work in restricted spaces.


VCI Packaging Industry Uses

Automotive - VCI packaging is commonly used in the automotive industry to protect metal parts such as engine components, brake components, and suspension components during shipment and storage. These parts are often exposed to harsh environments and are highly susceptible to corrosion, so VCI products are an effective corrosion prevention solution. 

Aerospace and Aviation- Small to large aircraft parts benefit from VCI packaging since many of these parts are stored for long periods and then shipped to another destination for assembly. Proper protection is extremely important since damaged metal parts and components can lead to costly delays. 

Marine - The marine industry also uses VCI packaging to protect parts such as propellers, valves, and shafts. These parts are also exposed to harsh environments during transportation so VCI provides an effective solution for extra protection.

Military and Heavy Equipment - VCIs are used in the military and heavy equipment industries to protect metal equipment and parts in harsh environments, as well as to extend the lifespan of equipment and reduce maintenance costs.

Electrical Components - VCI packaging is also often used in the electrical and electronics industry to protect metal parts such as printed circuit boards, transformers, and other components. VCI products can protect these delicate components from moisture, humidity, and rust damage during transportation. 

Metal Fabrication and Foundry - Metal fabrication plants and foundries use VCIs to protect metal parts during various stages of the manufacturing process. This ensures there is no damage or corrosion to the parts, resulting in a quality finished product. 

Need Help with Corrosion Prevention?

No matter the application, Rocket Industrial can help you with your corrosion prevention needs. We analyze the current state of your corrosion management needs and work with you and your team to implement the best and most cost-effective solution. Rocket Industrial in partnership with the Zerust support team, can come to your facility and do a step-by-step analysis of your current process including fluid audits, VCI and packaging process audits, and data logger analysis. Our mission is to provide you with the right products, processes, and procedures to ensure that you can achieve your desired results. Contact us today to get started or shop our stock VCI packaging solutions online.