Corrugated boxes are storage and shipping containers that are constructed of corrugated materials. A corrugated material is rippled, fluted or ridged sheet, and corrugated containers are usually composed of a corrugated sheet sandwiched between layers of flat sheets. Container materials are often corrugated because of the added strength that the process gives to materials without adding significant weight.
Corrugated boxes, or corragated boxes, as they are sometimes erroneously referred to in writing, are usually made out of a paper-based material, though they can be made out of other materials as well. The paper-based material used to construct containers is often referred to as cardboard, though within industry each of the different materials has its own distinct name. Corrugated boxes are strong, durable and long lasting. Cardboard storage boxes are constructed of multiple layers of chipboard, which consist of two sheets of paperboard glued to a middle layer of rippled paper. The ripples are similar to pleating and contain air, which acts as a strong cushion and also increases the chipboard box's durability. Cardboard can be multi-colored and have a number of different finishes, but natural brown cardboard boxes and white cardboard boxes are by far the most common. Most boxes are square or rectangular, but some custom corrugated boxes can be specially-shaped to fit objects of unusual shape. Many corrugated cartons and boxes can be folding boxes, meaning they are held in place by folded flaps instead of tape or fasteners. While most cardboard boxes are used for storage and shipping, cardboard bins can be used for short term organization, such as in mail delivery applications. Not all corrugated boxes are made of paper or wood products; some corrugated plastic boxes are used when a stronger material is needed.
Basic paperboard is made of recycled paper, sawdust and woodchips, which are adhered together to make heavy-duty paper by using heat, pressure and an adhesive. Corrugated box manufacturers use high-precision corrugators that are able to produce 500 feet of corrugated paperboard per minute. The paperboard is humidified to soften it, making it easier to form the ripples, which are called flutes. After the fluted board is formed by pressing corrugated molds on either side of the cardboard, the paper must dry over hot plates. The fluted paper is then adhered to the outer paper with a starch-based adhesive, which forms a permanent bond. Another layer of outer paper is adhered to the other side of the fluted paper, which is then sandwiched between the outer paperboard layers. The surface is often sanded until smooth and sometimes coated with a glossy, waterproof finish. Then, large sheets are cut down into a six-sided flat construction. Once the corrugated material is formed, it can be folded, pressed and cut into shapes that can be folded to create a box. Corrugated boxes come in many varieties and sizes, depending on how they will be used. They can be rectangular, square, cylindrical or a custom shape. The cutting process is done by die cutters, which use a sharp metal blade or infrared laser. 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. Specialty corrugated boxes are an ideal solution to many storage, handling and shipping requirements.
Corrugated boxes are inexpensive, which is one of their main benefits. They are also long-lasting and 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. As long as they do not come in contact with moisture, corrugated cardboard boxes can be used for many years. The cost to produce, fill and ship the containers is low, and the materials used to make corrugated boxes are inexpensive. Corrugated boxes can also 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. Corrugated boxes differ in shape, size, thickness, durability, color and finish. 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 have a laminated, glossy exterior that is often very bright and colorful with a company's logo, brand name and informational text.
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. Once they are ready for a specific application, the box is assembled. To form the box shape, the flat pieces of cardboard are held together by tape, folding the flaps on both ends, heavy duty staples or an adhesive. Some are a single piece construction, while others have a detachable lid. Corrugated boxes are used as many different containers all around us. Pizza boxes, retail and clothing store boxes, gift boxes, jewelry boxes, bakery and cake containers, and many other boxes are all made of corrugated paper material. Many different kinds of commercial products are contained in this type of cardboard, including toothpaste, cereal, soap, computer paper and check refills, among many others.
Corrugated Box Terms
- A factory that produces corrugated and/or cardboard boxes.
- Any heavy paper-pulp based board. Cardboard is not necessarily corrugated. To be "corrugated", board must have fluted paper with air pockets in the middle of its outer layers.
- Convert flat corrugated boards into boxes. Machine types may include flexfolder gluers and die cutters.
- Two sheets of stiff paper joined by a middle sheet of pleated paper.
- The wavy "fluted" paper inside the corrugated paperboard.
- Gear-like cylinders that shape paper into a series of waves or "flutes."
- 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.
- 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 corrugated paperboard.