A lot goes into making a corrugated box. In this corrugated box manufacturing guide, we’ll go over the different steps as well as the machines involved in the process. This will give you a better understanding of, not only how the boxes are made, but also the equipment required to make them, but first, about the corrugated boxes.
Corrugated Box Basics
Corrugated boxes are packaging or shipping boxes that have been constructed using containerboard. This is a thick and sturdy material that can withstand the rigors of shipping and other environments that packaging is usually subjected to.
The corrugated board for manufacturing corrugated boxes is made up of two main components: the linerboard and the fluting. The liner board is the flat paper that is glued to the fluting. The fluting is the wavy paper in between the linerboards. These three layers are then glued together to form the corrugated board.
There are two types of corrugated box linerboard: test and Kraft. Test linerboard is made of recycled paper while Kraft linerboard is mostly made of wood pulp. The type of linerboard used will depend on the strength needed for the particular box. For example, if the box will be holding heavy items, Kraft linerboard will be used.
How Are Corrugated Boxes Made?
Corrugated box making involves two main stages: the container board making process and manufacturing the actual box itself. Several materials are also require depending on the required steps. The corrugated box manufacturing materials include:
- Paperboard for the corrugated medium and linerboard
- Container board glue for joining the linerboard and medium together. This corrugated box adhesive is mostly made by combining corn starch with other chemicals
- Box joint glue. This joint glue for corrugated boxes is used in the final steps of the manufacturing process. They are mostly vinyl acetate adhesives
- Printing inks. The corrugated box printing inks can be different types but mostly Flexo inks
Corrugated Box Manufacturing Process
Now that we know the basics of corrugated boxes and the materials required to make them, let’s take a look at the manufacturing process itself. As we mentioned, the corrugated box manufacturing process involves several steps and machines. These range from small machines to large types measuring up to several hundred feet. Below is a description of how corrugated boxes are made.
Corrugated Board Making Machine
The first step is to make the corrugated box board. This is done by combining the linerboard and fluting with adhesive, which is usually starch-based.
- The corrugated board making machine, also called the corrugator, will first roll out the linerboard and medium.
- The paper then passes through a heating section where it’s steam-heated at a temperature of 170° C.
- Geared rollers produce flutes in the medium. The tips of the flutes are glued.
- In a single facer machine, the now fluted and glued medium is attached to the linerboard.
- Another sheet of linerboard is fed into the machine and attached to the other side of the single faced board.
Corrugate Board Cutting Machine
After the corrugated box board has been produced, it needs to be cut into smaller pieces. This is done by the corrugated board cutting machine. The cutting machine has a large knife or cutting dies that cuts the corrugated board into the desired size.
The size of the corrugated board will depend on the size of the box that’s being made. For example, if the box is for storing small items, the corrugated board will be cut into smaller pieces.
Corrugated Box Printing Machine
After the corrugated board is cut, it needs to be printed. This is done by the corrugated box printing machine. The machine prints the desired design or message on the corrugated board.
The printing machine mostly uses a flexographic printing method. This is a type of printing that uses plates, inks, and chemicals to transfer the design onto the corrugated board.
Corrugated Box Slotting Machine
The next step in the corrugated box manufacturing process is to make the slots for the box. The slotting machine has a sharp blade that cuts slots into the corrugated board. These slots will be used to fold and assemble the box.
Corrugated Box Gluing Machine
After the slots are cut, the corrugated box needs to be glued, in the gluing machine. The machine applies adhesive to the corrugated board which will hold the box together.
Corrugated box adhesive can be different types depending on the manufacture’s box making process and other factors.
The gluing machine has a large tank that holds the adhesive. The adhesive is then pumped through a series of tubes and nozzles. These nozzles apply the adhesive to the corrugated board.
Corrugated Box Making Machine
After the corrugated box is glued, it needs to be assembled, or they may be sent to the customer as flat-pack. This is done by the corrugated box making machine. The machine takes the flat-pack boxes and assemble them into their three-dimensional form.
The box making machine has a series of conveyor belts that move the boxes through the machine. As the boxes move through the machine, they are folded and glued into their final shape.
After the corrugated boxes are made, they can be used for packaging and shipping products. These boxes provide excellent protection for products during transportation and storage.
Corrugated Box Quality Control
The corrugated manufacturing process is not complete without the quality control step. During and after the corrugated boxes are made, they need to be checked for quality. This is done by a quality control team.
The team checks the boxes for any defects or damage. This ensures high quality boxes. A quality corrugated box is sure to withstand handling and protect items during shipping.
During quality control processes, tests are done to confirm flawless products. Once the boxes pass the quality control check, they are ready to be used.
The corrugated box quality control team must be very careful when checking the boxes. If a box is damaged, it could cause the products inside to be damaged.
Corrugated box manufacturing involves several different processes such as containerboard making, cutting, printing, slotting, and gluing. These processes are mostly done by machines. Customers can dictate how their boxes will look like by specifying the size, shape, and design of their boxes. However, the general manufacturing process outlined in this article will generally be used.