This guide gives a brief overview of most common types of cardboard packaging and the best applications for each.
Generally, there are three major types of cardboard boxes: folding cartons, rigid boxes and corrugated boxes.
FOLDING CARTONS (FOLDING BOXES)
A folding carton is a box made from thin cardboard (up to 450gsm) that is shipped flat to the customer. When ready to use, it is folded into a box. When folding cartons are customized they are usually printed directly on the cardboard.
Since folding cartons fold flat and therefore take up little space, they are economical to ship. And since they are printed on sheets containing many carton units, folding cartons generally have lower per-unit cost and faster production time than rigid boxes. They also provide excellent print quality, and unlike rigid boxes or litho-laminated corrugated boxes, the outer surface of folding cartons can be printed directly, saving a step in the production process.
The common examples of folding cartons are cereal boxes and most of the other boxes you will see on the shelves at retail stores.
RIGID BOXES (SETUP BOXES)
Rigid boxes are made from heavy boxboard by taping (staying) the four corners of the box with tape and are shipped pre-assembled. They are often used for higher end products where perceived value is important.
A rigid box can be distinguished from a folding carton in three major ways:
- once manufactured, a rigid box will not collapse like a folding carton,
- the boxboard used for the walls of rigid box is up to four times thicker than the board used to make a folding carton,
- unlike folding cartons, printing is rarely applied to the boxboard, but rather to a separate wrap (usually composed of paper, leather, or fabric) that is then adhered to a plain box.
Usually made of inexpensive brown Kraft fluted (or wavy) board that is sandwiched between layers of linerboard, corrugated board is most frequently reserved for shipping cartons and is sometimes used for primary packaging, point of purchase (POP) displays, and cushioning pads. In fact, corrugated board can be easily customized for different applications that require varying levels of strength and product protection: flutes are available in a wide variety of heights (A, B, C, E, etc.), and linerboard layers can be double- or triple-walled for added strength.