When packing and shipping boxes full of rolled sheet or plate cylinders, we want to pack them hexagonally instead of square. Because that way:
- You fit more into each box.
- There’s less space between pipes, because each pipe is contacting 6 other pipes around it instead of 4.
- It minimizes chances of their sliding around, getting dented in transit, or being sent back to be repaired or replaced.
- And it’s still easier to count them because they shift less in the box.
This topic of minimizing the chance of sliding around reminds us of interstitial atoms in steel — the carbon particles that pack into iron lattice that make the sheets of the lattice harder to slide around (and therefore, stronger).