Corrugated boxes present a unique combination of strength, durability, and versatility. Made out of a wavy sheet of paperboard sandwiched between two flat linerboards, these boxes find useful application in many different industries. Read all about corrugated boxes in this comprehensive post.
What are Corrugated Boxes?
To help you get a better understanding of corrugated boxes, we will start by defining them. After the definition of corrugated boxes, we will then go over their history and see how they became so popular over the years.
Next, we will discuss the different types of corrugated boxes that are available today and their uses. We will also touch on the differences between corrugated boxes and other paperboard packaging materials such as cartons.
Definition of Corrugated Boxes
Corrugated boxes are a type of packaging that consists of paperboard outer layers and a corrugated inner layer. The corrugated layer is made up of ridged paper that is glued to the outer layers. These boxes get their strength from the wave-like fluting that is found in between the two linerboards.
The use of corrugated boxes involves packaging everything from food and electronics to clothes and furniture. And, thanks to their light weight and stacking capability, these boxes are also used extensively in the product shipping industry.
History of Corrugated Boxes
The history of corrugated boxes dates back to more than 100 years ago. The first corrugated paper material was first patented in England in 1856. During that time, the corrugation was mainly used in hats. It would later, after several years, become a material for boxes.
The corrugated box quickly gained popularity due to its strength and durability, and by the early 1900s, these boxes were being mass-produced in the United States. In the present times, the corrugated box market size stands at over $134 billion, with a forecasted growth of 5% every year until 2032.
What are Corrugated Boxes Made of?
Corrugated boxes are made from corrugated paperboard, which is a fluted paper-based material consisting of two or more linerboards glued to either side. Different materials may be used for these corrugated box parts. Here is more about these materials.
Corrugated Box Materials
Corrugated box manufacturers typically use different types of thick paper to make the boxes, based on the required properties for strength, ease of printing, and other requirements.
Kraft liner – this is a semi-bleached or unbleached paperboard with high breaking strength. Mostly made from virgin wood pulp and using the Kraft process, this paper is rigid and durable.
Test liner – the test liner is a recycled paperboard with medium to high density and good folding strength. Test liner is also known as a corrugated medium.
Other important corrugated box parts include the following:
- Panels: They make up the sides of a corrugated box.
- Scores: These are the fold lines on a corrugated box that help in its easy assembly.
- Slots: The slots are cut-outs on a corrugated box that helps in its easy opening and closing.
- Tuck Tops: They are a type of closure for a corrugated box that uses tuck-in flaps.
Corrugated Box Construction
The corrugated box construction, as the name suggests, consists of a wavy sheet of paperboard sandwiched between two flat pieces of thick paper. Here is more about these layers.
Corrugated Box Linerboard
The corrugated box linerboard is a flat sheet of paperboard that is used as the facing for the fluting. Linerboards are made out of either recycled paper or virgin fiber.
Corrugated Box Medium
This is the wavy sheet of paperboard that is used to make up the inner layer of corrugated box material. The corrugated box medium is often made out of recycled paper.
Corrugated Box Fluting
The corrugated box fluting refers to fluted sheet of paperboard that is sandwiched between the linerboards. The fluting is made out of recycled paper as well.
What Are Corrugated Boxes Used For?
Corrugated boxes are used for packaging and shipping a wide variety of products. They offer many benefits that make them the preferred choice for packaging and shipping goods. Many businesses use corrugated boxes as:
Shipping Corrugated Boxes
Corrugated boxes are commonly used for shipping purposes. Shipping corrugated boxes offer superior protection to the contents inside and are available in a variety of sizes to accommodate different types of products.
Corrugated Storage Boxes
Used corrugated boxes make perfect storage containers. They are sturdy and can be easily stacked on top of each other, which makes them ideal for a variety of storage purposes in homes, offices, and any other place.
Corrugated Display Boxes
Corrugated boxes are also used for display purposes. Display corrugated boxes can be found in retail stores or at trade shows all over the world. These boxes provide sturdiness and versatility for a variety of display options.
Corrugated Packaging Boxes
Corrugated boxes are widely used for packaging purposes. Plus, you can design a packaging corrugated box in a broad range of sizes and other requirements based on the type of product to be packed.
Corrugated Box Types
There are a variety of different types of corrugated boxes that businesses and organizations can use. These are named according to the number of corrugated layers that make up the walls of the box. The following are some of the most common corrugated box types and their wall construction:
Single Wall Corrugated Box
A single wall corrugated box the most basic type of these boxes. It is normally made out of a single layer paperboard with flutes running through the middle.
Double Wall Corrugated Box
Double wall corrugated boxes have two layers of fluting sandwiched between three linerboards. These boxes offer more strength and durability than single wall boxes and are often used for shipping heavier items.
Triple Wall Corrugated Box
Triple wall corrugated boxes have three layers of fluting between four linerboards. These boxes are the strongest type of corrugated box and are typically used for shipping very heavy items.
Corrugated Box Flute Types
The flutes in corrugated boxes are made out of recycled paper, and glued to the linerboards using a starch-based adhesive. They serve two main purposes: they give the box strength and rigidity and provide a cushioning layer that helps protect box contents from damage. The following are some of the most common flute types:
- A-flute- Thick 1/4″ fluting that offers good crush resistance and is often used for shipping heavier items (36 flutes per foot)
- B-flute- Medium 1/8″ fluting and commonly used for retail packaging (49 flutes per foot)
- C-flute- Thin 11/64″ fluting and the most used for a wide range of applications (41 flutes per foot)
- E-flute- Thinner 1/16″ fluting that is used for packaging small items or items that require a high level of print quality (90 flutes a foot)
- F-flute- 1/32″ fluting. A great substitute for cartons that allows high print quality (128 flutes for every foot)
Corrugated Boxes vs. Cardboard Boxes
Corrugated boxes and cardboard boxes are both made out of paperboard. However, there are some important variations between the two. The following are some of the key differences between cardboard and corrugated boxes:
- Corrugated boxes are made out of a wavy sheet of paperboard that is attached to two flat pieces of paperboard. Cardboard boxes are made out of a single piece of paperboard that is folded to form the box.
- Corrugated boxes are stronger than cardboard boxes. This is because of the wavy sheet of paperboard that is used in their construction.
- The corrugated box price is generally higher than that of cardboard boxes, given the amount of material that goes into making them and the complex manufacturing process.
Which one should you use – corrugated boxes or cardboard boxes? The answer depends on your specific needs. If you need a strong and durable box, then corrugated boxes are the way to go. If you need a cheaper option, cardboard boxes might be a better choice.
Corrugated Box vs. Carton
There is often confusion between corrugated boxes and cartons. But while both can feature similar constructions, they are classified differently in the packaging world. So, what is the difference between corrugated box and carton boxes?
- Corrugated boxes are always made out of a wavy sheet of paperboard that is placed between two flat pieces of paperboard. Cartons, on the other hand, may or may not use a corrugated medium.
- Cartons are mostly made out of a single piece of paperboard that is folded to form the box.
- Corrugated boxes are stronger and generally larger than cartons.
- Corrugated boxes, based on their strength, are often used for shipping purposes. Cartons, on the other hand, are more often used for packaging or display purposes.
- The corrugated box price is higher than that of cartons.
When looking to package products for retail store shelves, you will often see cartons being used. This is because they are typically less expensive than corrugated boxes and do not require the same level of strength.
However, if you are looking to ship products, then shipping corrugated boxes are the better option as they can better protect your products from damage during transit.
Corrugated Box Terminology
Corrugated box packaging is a broad category that involves a range of box designs and materials. A lot of jargon is also associated with them. The following are some key terms that you should know when dealing with these types of boxes:
Paperboard – the material that is used to make the flat linerboards that make up the corrugated box.
Kraft paper- a type of brown colored paper, often made from virgin pulp.
Fluting profile – the shape or arrangement of the flutes in corrugated boxes.
Single face corrugated board – Corrugated box board that has a liner on one side and fluting on the other.
Grammage – A measure of the weight and thickness of paperboard.
Recycled content – The percentage of recycled material that is used to make the linerboard or corrugated board.
Corrugated boxes are popular choices for packaging and shipping products. They offer different benefits that make them well-suited for different purposes. Corrugated boxes are strong and more durable than cardboard boxes, plus they offer excellent cushioning and protection and are often used for shipping purposes.