Corrugated Boxes Industry Information
Corrugated boxes are storage and shipping containers that are constructed of corrugated materials. The term corrugated material refers to material (usually a type of paperboard) that is rippled, fluted or ridged. Corrugated containers are usually composed of a corrugated fiberboard, a common form of material that consists of a corrugated sheet sandwiched between layers of flat sheets. Despite the inaccuracy of the term, “cardboard box” is widely used to refer to this type of container.
Quick links to Corrugated Boxes Information
- The History of Corrugated Boxes
- Differences Between Paper Products
- Advantages of Corrugated Fiberboard
- Disadvantages of Corrugated Boxes
- Production Process of Corrugated Boxes
- Design of Corrugated Boxes
- Usage of Corrugated Boxes
- Corrugated Box Types
- Standards and Specifications for Corrugated Packaging
- Things to Consider When Purchasing Corrugated Boxes
- Proper Care for Boxes
- Corrugated Box Terms
The History of Corrugated Boxes
A consistent, economic trend throughout history is that packaging supplies tend to be made from materials that cost the least. Because of this, paper and its products have not been used as packaging for most of human history. Only in the mid-1800s, with the advent of industrial pulping processes, did paper become widespread for packaging uses.
The first corrugated paper was patented in England in 1856 for use as a hat liner. Corrugated material used for shipping did not crop into usage until Albert Jones patented a single-faced corrugated board in New York City 15 years later (1871). Three years after Jones’s work (1874), Oliver Long built upon his design and added a second piece of liner to the single-faced board, thus creating the elemental version of the corrugated fiberboard all around us today. In the same year, G. Smyth built the first massive-production corrugator.
Corrugated packaging boxes as we know them today – both the material used to create them and the actual product – did not develop until the very end of the nineteenth century. In 1884, Carl F. Dahl, a Swedish chemist, pioneered the creation of a strong, tear-resistant paper from pulverized wood chips. The product of his process came to be known as kraft paper. By 1906, kraft paper was being regularly manufactured. Interestingly, corrugated shipping boxes did not really develop until an accidental discovery in 1890. Then, Brooklyn-based printer Robert Gair discovered the foundational technique for making such boxes when a creasing tool malfunctioned while working on paper seed bags and performed cutting actions instead. Initially corrugated boxes were primarily used for packaging glass and pottery. As time developed, more products came to be entrusted to corrugated boxes, such as farm produce.
Toward the turn of the millennium, paper-based products had come a vast way from their position during the previous century as a last-resort packaging option. In 1992, production volumes of corrugated fiberboard in the United States exceeded 25 million tons.
Differences Between Paper Products
Although the terms cardboard, paperboard, and corrugated material are all used interchangeably, technical differences do exist between them. The generic term cardboard can refer to any heavy material chemically based on paper-pulp and is often avoided in the packaging industry due to its lack of precision. Similarly, the term paperboard really describes heavy paper-based material whose main distinction from actual sheet paper lies in its greater average thickness.
Chipboard is a slightly more precise term that refers to a recycled-paper product pressed to a certain thickness. Packages used for light items such as board games or cereal are typically made of chipboard. According to the previous definitions, these boxes could technically also be described as cardboard or paperboard boxes.
Corrugated fiberboard is an accepted technical term for the most common material used to make corrugated boxes. This material is simply a three-layered form of kraft paper (a specific type of paperboard or cardboard) that consists of a corrugated (rippled) interior sandwiched between two flat liners. Although some sources may refer to corrugated material as any three-layered material, this is not really accurate, since the term “corrugated” refers primarily to the existence of ripples or pleats (known as flutes). The ripples which define corrugated material are similar to pleating and contain air, which acts as a strong cushion and also increases the durability of its products made from corrugated material. Ultimately, it is more accurate to simply say that corrugated (or rippled) material is an essential part of many three-layered material constructions.
Despite these technical differences, sometimes the packaging industry resorts to colloquial terms such as “corrugated cardboard” to avoid confusing consumers. Furthermore, different industries tend to refer to different materials with their own distinct labels. As a consumer, however, it is important to know these distinctions, especially for purchasing and recycling decisions.
Advantages of Corrugated Fiberboard
Some advantages of corrugated fiberboard include:
- Corrugated Boxes Cost
- One of the main benefits of corrugated boxes is that they are simply inexpensive. Modern industrial technology is responsible for this, having transformed paper-based products from one of history’s least preferential packaging options to one of the most highly valued. The cost to produce, fill and ship the containers is low, and the materials used to make corrugated boxes are inexpensive.
- Easy Handling of Boxes
- Because of their light weight, corrugated boxes are the preferred medium of transport for most packaging professionals.
- Reliability for Shipping Products
- Although they are formed from kraft paper, the fluting technology of corrugated boxes gives them much strength and cushioning ability. Products shipped inside corrugated boxes can be reasonably expected to survive any weather-related or other travel-related shipping hazards.
- Durability of Boxes
- Corrugated boxes are long-lasting. As long as they do not come in contact with moisture, corrugated boxes can be used for many years.
- Versatility of Corrugated Boxes
- The versatility of corrugated boxes plays a huge role in their popularity. Since these boxes can be customized in terms of shape, color, size, etc., they are ideal for a wide range of industries that have very different packaging needs. Additionally, corrugated boxes are reusable. For example, a large box that was originally designed as packaging for a microwave can be used to transport possessions during a move and later as a storage container in an attic or basement.
- Compatibility With Graphic Design
- The flatliners composing the outer layers of corrugated fiberboard are ideal surfaces to place marketing text and graphics, as opposed to other materials that are more expensive and harder to annotate.
- Boxes are Recyclable
- Corrugated boxes can be recycled, making them very appealing in today’s environmentally-concerned industries. Over 70% of corrugated material is recovered, recycled and made into new corrugated boxes and other products. In 2006 alone, 25.2 million tons of corrugated material were recycled.
Disadvantages of Corrugated Boxes
- Limitations on Range of Packaged Products
- A main disadvantage of corrugated boxes stems from its lightweight. Heavier products sometimes cannot be shipped in these types of containers and must be moved with heavier containers (e.g. plastic ones) instead.
- Sanitary Concerns
- In some industries, the porous nature of corrugated fiberboard poses sanitary concerns. For example, some members of the hospital food storage and medical supply industries seek to reduce dependence on corrugated containers for fear of contamination due to liquid absorption, insect infestation, etc.
Production Process of Corrugated Boxes
As stated earlier, corrugated boxes are usually made from a specific form of high quality paperboard known as kraft paper. Although corrugated boxes or containers are usually made out of a paper-based material, they can be made out of other materials as well. After paper or wood products, corrugated plastic containers are commonly used, especially when a stronger material is needed.
Kraft paper is produced from elements such as recycled paper, sawdust and wood chip through a sophisticated process. During this process, the elements are adhered together with heat, pressure and an adhesive to produce heavy-duty paper. Although kraft paper forms the foundation of corrugated boxes, kraft paper and corrugated boxes are usually produced in separate environments (paper mills and corrugating plants, respectively) due to economic considerations.
More strictly speaking, the foundation of corrugated boxes is the humble pine tree. It is not uncommon for the largest manufacturers to own thousands of acres of pines as well as the paper mills to process the branchless trunks that are harvested from them. In these paper mills, pine trunks are initially stripped of their barks and reduced to small wood chips. The wood chips then undergo the kraft (or sulfate) process, in which they are”cooked” in a highly alkaline, sodium hydroxide (NaOH) based solution and dissolved into a fibrous pulp. After further refinement, this pulp is transported to a special type of paper-making machine known as a Fourdrinier machine. These machines form the pulp into paper, largely by massive dehydration.
Corrugated box manufacturers typically maintain an inventory of kraft paper reels which they receive from paper mills. In order to actually corrugate the paper, they use massive, football-field length machines known as corrugators. The kraft paper is humidified at high pressures in preheating rollers to soften it, making it easier to form the ripples or flutes. Next, the fluted board is formed by pressing corrugated molds on either side of the cardboard. A following set of rollers, comprising the single-facer glue station, joins the first flat liner with the newly corrugated material. The double-backer glue station adds the second flat liner to the other side of the corrugated material to form a complete piece of corrugated fiberboard. (The fluted paper is joined to both of these layers with a corn starch-based adhesive, effective for creating permanent bonds.) For the newly formed corrugated fiberboard to be ready for use, it must dry over steamy hot plates. The surface is often sanded until smooth and sometimes coated with a glossy, waterproof finish. At the end of the corrugator, the continuous fiberboard is divided into large sheets (or box blanks). The high-precision corrugators in use by many corrugated box manufacturers are typically able to produce 500 feet of corrugated fiberboard per minute.
Although raw material for corrugated fiberboard is usually processed in a separate location, the products of corrugated fiberboard are often not. After being formed in the corrugator, corrugated fiberboard is typically fed to another set of machines (box makers) for the production of actual boxes or containers. Most corrugated cardboard boxes are manufactured in high volumes and sold in bulk bundles, usually around 20 to 50 at a time. They are always sold flat, which saves space during the shipping process.
Design of Corrugated Boxes
- Flute Types in Corrugated Boxes
- The material used to construct corrugated boxes can be highly customized according to its ultimate end purpose of the box or container. For example, the material used to make the corrugated box, the corrugated material’s flute size, and the binding adhesive used in the corrugator are all variable.
- Flute types, in particular, are a key factor in the customization of corrugated containers. To use one illustration, larger flute sizes typically offer better cushioning, while smaller flute sizes offer better structural integrity and opportunities to include marketing text. Flute types are signified by a lettering scheme (A, B, C, E and F) which denotes when the different flutes were invented and not a comparison of their sizes. The different types of flutes do contain different numbers of flutes per linear foot; the most common type of flute is the “C” flute, which contains approximately 39 flutes per linear foot and is mostly used in shipping containers. Compression strength, cushioning strength, and combined board thickness are all affected by the size and number of flutes.
- It is possible to combine different types of flutes within the same board. This is largely due to the fact that the number of layers, or walls, within corrugated fiberboard is also able to be customized. A single face fiberboard will only have one liner attached to a sheet of corrugated material, while double walled boards and triple walled boards will have the corresponding layers of corrugated medium sandwiched between two outside liners.
- Appearance Options for Boxes
- Corrugated boxes come in many varieties and sizes, depending on how they will be used. Some are a single piece construction, while others have a detachable lid. These boxes often assume a rectangular, square, or cylindrical shape. Most boxes are square or rectangular. Once it is ready for a specific application, a box or container is assembled from corrugated fiberboard. A typical way to form a box is to fold flaps on both ends of flat pieces of corrugated fiberboard. Many corrugated boxes and containers are folding boxes, meaning they are held in place by folded flaps instead of tape or fasteners.
- The most common type of corrugated box is known as a Regular Slotted Container (RSC) and belongs to the “Series-02” family of boxes according to the European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers (FEFCO). These boxes contain flaps of identical length from the score to the edge. Other families of boxes (according to FEFCO) include:
- –Telescope type boxes defined by a movable lid (Series 03)
- –Folder type boxes which are formed by folding a single piece of cardboard from the bottom (Series 04) rather than from the side (Series 02)
- –Boxes with a sleeve-like lid that is slid into place (Series 05)
- –Rigid, three-piece boxes that require stitching and gluing together (Series 06)
- Custom boxes can be specially-shaped to fit objects of unusual shape. Die cutters are the machines responsible for producing this wide variety of boxes by either a sharp metal blade or infrared laser.
- Corrugated boxes can be multi-colored and have a number of different finishes. Sometimes the exterior is bleached or mottled, which takes away the dark brown pigment and replaces it with an attractive white finish. Corrugated boxes that contain commercial products like cereal, soap and toothpaste usually have a laminated, glossy exterior that is often very bright and colorful with a company’s logo, brand name and informational text. Overall, however, natural brown cardboard boxes and white cardboard boxes are by far the most common.
- Specialty corrugated boxes are an ideal solution to many storage, handling and shipping requirements. Working with their customer, corrugated box manufacturers can create custom printed corrugated boxes, corrugated boxes with dividers, waxed corrugated boxes and many more sizes and styles.
Usage of Corrugated Boxes
Container materials are formed from corrugated fiberboard because the corrugating process significantly strengthens the material without adding significant weight. Corrugated boxes are strong, durable and long lasting. While most corrugated boxes are used for storage and shipping, they can also be used for short term organization, such as in mail delivery applications.
Corrugated boxes are used for a wide variety of containers that most people encounter every day.
Many different kinds of commercial products are contained in corrugated material, including toothpaste, cereal, soap, computer paper and check refills, among many others. Pizza boxes, retail and clothing store boxes, gift boxes, jewelry boxes, bakery and cake containers, various display boxes, and many other boxes are all made of corrugated paper material. Some of the thousands of industries that depend on corrugated boxes include food processing, toys, automotive, publishing, electronics, and construction.
Corrugated Box Types
- Cardboard Bins
- Cardboard containers that are usually trapezoidal or rectangular and do not include a lid.
- Cardboard Storage Boxes
- Cardboard containers that are used for storage purposes.
- Corrugated Cartons
- Corrugated containers, many of which are specially designed to fit a specific product.
- Corrugated Trays
- Often used for display purposes or used with a shrink-wrap covering.
- Five Panel Folder Boxes
- Shipped flat without any folding joints. The box has five long panels, one of which fully overlaps. The ends also fully overlap.
- Full Overlap Boxes
- Made with the major flaps fully overlapping, increasing the stability of the seal.
- Full Telescope Boxes
- Have two telescoping sections. The sections may be formed using staples, die-cut locks or adhesive.
- Partial Telescope Boxes
- Have two sections. The top telescopes partially over the bottom.
Standards and Specifications for Corrugated Packaging
The corrugated packaging industry commonly follows standards set by ASTM International, a US-based organization involved in the collection and publishing of technical standards based on voluntary consensus. The following standards are the majority of ASTM’s criteria to assess various properties (e.g. breaking strength, tear resistance, etc.) of corrugated fiberboard and products made from them.
D1974 / D1974M -16 Standard Practice for Methods of Closing, Sealing and Reinforcing Fiberboard Boxes
D2658 – 04 (2013) – Standard Test Method for Determining Interior Dimensions of Fiberboard Boxes (Box Gage Method)
D3951 – 15 Standard Practice for Commercial Packaging
D4727 / D4727M – 17 Standard Specification for Corrugated and Solid Fiberboard Sheet Stock (Container Grade) and Cut Shapes
D5118 / D5118M – 15 Standard Practice for Fabrication of Fiberboard Shipping Boxes
D5168 -12 (2017) Standard Practice for Fabrication and Closure of Triple-Wall Corrugated Fiberboard Containers
D5639 / D5639M – 11 (2015) Standard Practice for Selection of Corrugated Fiberboard Materials and Box Construction Based on Performance Requirements
D6804 – 02 (15) Standard Guide for Hand Hole Design in Corrugated Boxes
Things to Consider When Purchasing Corrugated Boxes
There are well over a thousand corrugated box manufacturers in the United States alone. Thus, finding the right manufacturer for your packaging needs is critical.
- Customized Packaging and Manufacturers
- The right manufacturer will work with their customer to find the packaging solutions which fit their specific needs. Important things to discuss with a manufacturer include the ultimate purpose of your corrugated packages, preferred corrugated box design, the timeline for manufacturing your corrugated packages, how the packages will be transported, etc. The right manufacturer will work with a customer to develop solutions such as custom printed corrugated boxes, corrugated boxes with dividers, waxed corrugated boxes and many more sizes and styles.
- Manufacturer’s Certification and Standards
- Discuss with your manufacturer their adherence to the aforementioned ASTM standards. Also, consider whether a manufacturer has a recognized quality management certification like an ISO 9001 certification.
- End Usage of Corrugated Containers
- Corrugated containers can be measured internally or externally. If you are going to use corrugated containers for in-house uses (e.g. with pallets or machinery), order by external dimensions. If you are going to use corrugated containers for shipping products to an end user, focus on internal dimensions.
- Consider Product Security
- Proper packaging is essential to the security of the products contained inside. Container strength is a key factor determining the type of corrugated box you ultimately need, and such strength is dependent on the different grades of kraft paper that are used in the manufacturing process. A good corrugated box company will provide the needed specialists, engineers, etc. to determine and create a container strong enough for your specific purposes.
- Discuss with your manufacturer the ideal edge crush test ratings your type of corrugated paper box should have. The edge crush test is a relatively recent standard that measures a container’s compressive strength by compressing its edges between two plates positioned contrary to its flutes. ECT standards make it easier for the corrugated box industry to produce strong containers with less even less material.
- The Box Maker’s Certificate (BMC) is a type of seal that has commonly been used on corrugated boxes to indicate a box’s strength in compliance with certain regulations. However, the BMC is increasingly seen as obsolete since it is not legally required and creates an extra liability for shippers. Furthermore, it is inconvenient for important aspects of the packaging industry (such as on-demand packaging systems). Thus, while a BMC may indicate a higher level of professionalism on a manufacturer’s part, its presence is not absolutely necessary.
- Consider Your Brand
- A company’s brand and image is inextricably linked to their packaging. Consider whether your packaging solution enhances or harms your brand in the eyes of customers.
Proper Care for Boxes
Moisture undermines one of corrugated boxes’ main advantages – durability. As a result, keeping corrugated boxes dry is a fundamental part of their care.
Corrugated fiberboard should always be handled in accordance with its anisotropic qualities. Anisotropic material refers to material whose physical properties depend on directionality and orientation. Corrugated fiberboard will behave differently based on the directional orientation of its macromolecules, its flutes, etc. Consult with your corrugated box manufacturer to ensure you handle your corrugated fiberboard according to its anisotropy and not contrary to it.
Corrugated Box Terms
- Box Plants
- A factory that produces corrugated and/or cardboard boxes.
- Any heavy paper-pulp based board. Cardboard is not necessarily corrugated. To be “corrugated”, the board must have fluted paper with air pockets in the middle of its outer layers.
- Converting Machines
- Convert flat corrugated boards into boxes. Machine types may include flexo folder gluers and die cutters.
- Corrugated Boxes
- A misspelling of “corrugated boxes,” containers made of a corrugated material.
- Corrugated Paperboard
- Two sheets of stiff paper joined by a middle sheet of pleated paper.
- Corrugating Medium
- The wavy “fluted” paper inside the corrugated paperboard.
- Corrugating Rolls
- Gear-like cylinders that shape paper into a series of waves or “flutes.”
- Die-cut Machines
- These are machines that cut the corrugated board into a pattern that will later be folded into a box shape.
- Ridges pressed or folded into a paper. Flutes are very similar to pleats and come in sizes A, B, C, E, F and microflute. The most common size flute is size C.
- Also known as paperboard, this material has a similar appearance to the brown paper that composes grocery bags.
- Single Face Web
- A continuous sheet of flat paper with fluted paper glued to it.
- A long sheet of paper on a roll, the web is drawn into corrugating rolls to begin forming a corrugated paperboard.
Diving Deeper – Corrugated Box Applications
Because of their long life, strength and durability, corrugated boxes are the preferred container in shipping and storage applications. They are also used to organize materials in the short term, as in offices, homes and mail delivery. The corrugation process strengthens these fiberboard containers while maintaining very low weight.
Because of their affordability, low weight and strength, people come across corrugated boxes in many applications every day. They are used to store and ship many consumer products, and as packaging for products from toothpaste and cereal to computer paper and soap. Oftentimes with consumer products like these, the corrugated containers have a shiny, wax-like finish applied, with company logos, brand names and graphics added to the packaging. Retail clothing store boxes, jewelry boxes, gift boxes, pizza boxes and containers for baked goods and cakes are all made of corrugated paper materials.
Some of the countless industries that rely on corrugated containers every day include auto parts, hardware, tools, food processing, health care, construction, toys, publishing and restaurants, to name just a few.
History of Corrugated Boxes
Corrugated paper materials have been used as packaging for over 150 years. Before that time, paper products were simply too expensive due to the laborious processes by which they were made, most often by hand. With the advent of industrial processing techniques of wood pulp, paper packaging materials became more and more affordable and widely used. This occurred in the mid 19th century during the Industrial Revolution.
In the mid-1850s, a patent was issued in the United Kingdom for the first corrugated paper; this was used to line hats. Over a decade later an American, Albert Jones, received a patent for the first corrugated board. This board, developed in the early 1870s, had just a single face, unlike the ubiquitous three-layer corrugated fiberboard in use today. It was the first such material used for shipping. Building upon Jones’ design, the inventor Oliver Long developed, in 1874, corrugated fiberboard with two flat faces around a central layer of corrugated fiberboard. In the same year G. Smyth invented the very first industrial corrugator machine that could mass-produce these materials.
The type of corrugated shipping boxes used today, and the materials from which they are made, were not fully developed until the late 1800s and early 1900s. Swedish chemist and inventor Carl Dahl used, in 1884, pulverized wood chips to create a strong product known as kraft paper, which was also resistant to tearing. By the early 20th century manufacturers were producing kraft paper on a regular basis. But still, corrugated shipping boxes as we now know them were not developed until a New York printer named Robert Gair, in 1890, accidentally stumbled upon a way to make them. Gair discovered the process when a tool meant to crease paper seed bags malfunctioned and cut the bags instead.
At first corrugated boxes were mainly used to package fragile items such as ceramics, glass products and the like. But in time, more and more products, such as produce from farms, came to be shipped in corrugated fiberboard containers. By the 1990s, in the U.S. alone, manufacturers produced 25 million tons of corrugated fiberboard. Paper, once an expensive and hardly used material, had become widespread because of its affordability, strength and durability.
How Corrugated Boxes Are Made
Today, corrugated boxes are typically made from kraft paper, a high quality paperboard derived from wood. When an even stronger container is required they can be made from corrugated plastic.
Paper mills and corrugating plants, respectively, produce kraft paper and corrugated boxes, separately. This allows for maximum efficiency. To make kraft paper, mills use recycled paper, sawdust and wood chips, which are bound together to produce heavy-duty paper using an adhesive, pressure and heat.
Pine trees are the raw materials used to manufacture kraft paper and corrugated boxes. Therefore, many large manufacturers own not only paper mills, but also vast tracts of pine forest consisting of hundreds or thousands of acres.
In the mills, pine trunks that have had their branches cut off are stripped of bark and cut into small wood chips, then undergo a chemical process known as the kraft process or sulfate process. At this stage the chips are turned into fibrous pulp by “cooking” in an alkaline solution made primarily of sodium hydroxide. Next the pulp is dehydrated in Fourdrinier machines, turning it into paper. Finally, the paper mills output reels of kraft paper, which are shipped to corrugating plants and stored as inventory.
Manufacturers use huge machines called corrugators, which can be 300 feet long, to corrugate the kraft paper. First, these machines soften the kraft paper in preheating rollers at high pressure and humidity, making it easier to form the flutes or ripples. Then corrugated molds are pressed into the cardboard to form the fluted board. Two glue stations next join this newly corrugated material to the outer flat layers using a corn starch-based adhesive, making a complete piece of corrugated fiberboard. After drying this material over hot, steamy pates, the surface may be sanded smooth and in some cases coated with a waterproof, glossy finish. Finally, the massive corrugator machine divides the continuous fiberboard into box blanks, large sheets ready to be cut into different sizes. Many of the corrugator machines manufacturers use can produce 500 feet per minute of corrugated fiberboard.
The sides of corrugated boxes are composed of layers of materials: an inner layer, a middle layer, and an outer layer. The middle layer is fluted with wave-shaped arches that act as support and cushioning for the materials inside the box.
Box making machines then produce actual containers or boxes from this corrugated fiberboard, which are sold typically in bulk bundles of 20-50 or more. To save space during shipping the bundled boxes are sold flat rather than assembled into box form.
These durable fiberboard boxes are used by many industries.
Types of Boxes and Corrugated Fiberboard
Though technical differences exist between them, people often use the terms corrugated material, cardboard and paperboard interchangeably. People in the packaging and shipping industries tend to avoid using the word cardboard, a generic term that can refer to any heavy material made from paper pulp, because it is imprecise.
Along the same lines, paperboard technically means heavy wood- or paper-based material that is generally thicker than regular sheet paper. Another term, chipboard, is a bit more precise. It refers to recycled paper that has been pressed to a certain thickness; many light items such as cereal and board games are packaged in boxes made from chipboard.
Corrugated fiberboard refers to the three-layered kraft paper most commonly used to produce corrugated boxes. By definition corrugated here means containing pleats or ripples, known in the industry as flutes. Like pleats, these ripples contain air, which makes these boxes more durable and provides a cushion for anything stored or shipped within them.
Both the types of corrugated fiberboard and the types of boxes made can be customized depending on the end use of the container or box. Flute size, materials used to make the box and binding adhesives all vary. With smaller flutes or pleats, there is better structural integrity and more room for marketing text. Larger flute sizes, on the other hand, offer more cushioning for the contents of the box. The number of flutes and their sizes affect variables like board thickness, cushioning strength and compression strength. Within a single container or box flute sizes and spacing can vary as well.
The size, shape, lids, finishes and ways of closing containers all vary too. Box shapes include square, rectangular and cylindrical, though boxes can be custom manufactured to fit virtually any object. Die cutting machines use either a sharp metal blade or laser to cut boxes into unusual shapes. They may have a detachable lid or be made of a single piece of fiberboard with flaps that fold. End users assemble each box by folding the flat board when ready for a specific use. Some containers are held together by tape or other fasteners, while folding boxes require no tape—folded flaps hold the assembled box in place.
Custom-made boxes used for shipping, storage and organization may have dividers, text and images printed on them, be waxed, or come in a variety of finishes. For commercial products such as soap, cereal and toothpaste, manufacturers make corrugated boxes with a glossy, laminated finish printed with brand names, logos and information. Bleaching or mottling the exterior of the corrugated fiberboard produces white cardboard boxes by removing the dark brown pigment. These and natural brown boxes are the most commonly used.
Corrugated Box Benefits
There are many advantages to using corrugated boxes and containers. They: can be recycled; are inexpensive and lightweight; are durable and versatile; are a reliable way to ship goods and protect them in transit; and they provide an ideal surface on which to print text and graphics.
There are, however, downsides to corrugated boxes. These containers cannot be used to ship heavier items, and in some industries where sanitary concerns are paramount, such as medical supplies and hospital food storage, fear of contamination from insect infestation and liquid absorption preclude the use of corrugated fiberboard containers.
Corrugated Boxes: Packaging Solutions for Startups
Lockdowns and social-distancing norms set off a surge in online shopping. Many startups who wish to take advantage of this trend turn to boxes and paper bags to deliver their products. This packaging not only serves as protection but also as branding, establishing trust between consumer and producer. Proper packaging design helps build an identity for a product.
Aside from branding, startups also need to consider the cost of their packaging. Design, materials, and the structure of your packages play a key role in their affordability. Business owners also need to consider the availability of their packages; ordering in bulk allows owners to reduce the cost of their packaging needs. Choosing the right supplier with a reasonable and affordable minimum order requirement can go a long way in helping your startup business grow.
Food Industry – Corrugated boxes are made from natural materials. The glue used to connect their parts is made from starch and water. These boxes also protect contents from bacteria, keeping foods fresher longer.
E-commerce – Rising global demands for convenient and lightweight packaging solutions have made corrugated boxes an irreplaceable asset in the e-commerce industry. They offer security and safety for the many products that pass through far-off trade routes and supply chains.
- Electronics – Electronics and electronic components need to be handled with care. Corrugated boxes can be supplemented with protective packaging materials to keep these types of items from damage, thanks to the cushioning provided by their fluted layers.
- Textile – The textile industry is very reliant on branding to ensure that customers will return to purchase their products. Corrugated boxes allow manufacturers to design and personalize their packaging to attract and retain customers.
Consumers care now more than ever for sustainability and brand values in their products. The importance of thoroughly planning the packaging of your products cannot be underemphasized. Choosing the right kind of packaging will significantly help the presentation and identity of your products.
Care, Safety and Compliance Standards of Corrugated Boxes
Keeping corrugated containers dry is essential to maintain their strength and durability, as moisture undermines these fundamental properties. Also, like wood that is easier to split along the grain, corrugated boxes made of fiberboard are directionally dependent or anisotropic. They will not function properly if handled in a manner inconsistent with their intended anisotropy or directionality.
U.S.-based ASTM International sets the technical standards governing the corrugated packaging industry. These standards assess properties of corrugated fiberboard and the products made from it, such as tear resistance, weight limits and breaking strength, as well as setting industry standard practices for fiberboard and box construction and for closing and sealing shipping and storage boxes safely.
Things to Consider/Choosing the Right Corrugated Box Manufacturer
In the United States alone, there are more than 1,000 manufacturers of corrugated boxes and similar containers. It is therefore key to find the right one for your specific needs. Discuss with potential suppliers: whether they have been certified; their compliance with the aforementioned ASTM International standards; manufacturing timelines; how they will ship your boxes to you; the end use for which you need the products; and if they are able to develop the custom solutions you need, such as printing text and graphics on the containers, any unusual shapes or sizes you may need, dividers and custom finishes such as waxed corrugated boxes.
Additional things to consider include whether the packaging will enhance your company’s brand; whether you should measure the container internally (for shipping products to customers) or externally (for in-house uses); container strength (which is based on the grade of kraft paper used to manufacture the container); and the level of product security you require.