Corrugated cartons are virtually everywhere, from supermarkets to gift shops. In fact, most of the boxes in which the products are shipped are also the ones in which they are displayed. Because of the ease and versatility of corrugated material, millions of tons of corrugated cartons are used each year to store and display all kinds of products.
Corrugated Carton Raw Materials
A corrugated carton is constructed from a stiff yet lightweight material made of three layers of Kraft paper, a strong paper made through a refined process of pulping wood chips so that the resulting product resists splitting and tearing.
The primary resource used for corrugated cartons is the pine tree. After the trees are harvested, they are stripped of everything but the trunks, which are the only part of the pines used in the pulp mill. The trees then must go through the Kraft process (invented in 1906) where they are converted to a strong paper product that is processed from a sulfur solution. Finally, a paper machine mixes all the materials and rolls it together to form, dry, and press together rolls of the tough paper.
Once at the plant, the carton requires a few more materials to become a finished product. First, cornstarch paste connects the corrugated material to the lining. Waxes and other materials help the boxes to resist water and contaminants (ideal for produce storage). Finally, creative teams uses several patterns to create a unique outside design that will showcase the product inside and highlight its most important attributes. Whereas older cardboard cartons used to look basically the same, today, designers get to use up to four colors and countless design templates for their boxes. Because the Kraft paper allows for greater efficiency and ease of production, more time can be spent on the creative process, which helps businesses raise their bottom line.
When constructing corrugated materials, manufacturers must take into account four primary guidelines: container board, crushing tests for box edges, styles and shape of boards, and board dimensions. Container board is difficult to produce. The creation of the Kraft paper itself is a complex process, and the chances of failure or damage due to structural deficiencies is common. Testing for strength is another factor that determines the efficacy of the carton. Most cartons will withstand at least a 1000 pound load, but if the design is faulty, this number decreases significantly.