We Answered the Most Common Questions About Corrugated Boxes

Published January 28, 2020

If you’re new to the consumer packaged goods (CPG) or secondary packaging industries, all of the terminologies that get thrown around can be a little daunting. Corrugated boxes are just pieces of cardboard used to ship products, right?

Well, no, not exactly. There’s a bit more to it than that.

We’ve compiled a list of some frequently-asked questions about corrugated boxes, so there’s no need to feel intimidated. And if you’re already an industry expert, this is a great time to brush up on your basics! The greater understanding you have of the materials you’re working with, the greater ability you’ll have to do your job and maximize your output. Let’s get started.

So, It’s Not a Cardboard Box?

In our line of work, the material we’re talking about is corrugated. The individual units inside these boxes are known as “cases.” Corrugated boxes are used primarily to store and ship cases. Cases could be anything from tissue boxes to food packages to smaller boxes containing medical devices—it all depends on who’s doing the shipping and packaging.

A cardboard box, on the other hand, is made from thick paper stock that’s most frequently used to package consumer goods, like boxes of cereal. So if we’re talking primary packaging, we mean the consumer packaging that’s touching the actual product. But more likely, we’ll be talking about secondary packaging—the corrugated material used to ship those packaged goods. 

What Is Corrugated Material Made Of?

Essentially, corrugated material is a number of heavy layers of paper. One of these layers is corrugated, or “fluted” in waves, and attached to a liner, which is another layer of flat paper. Simply put, at least one fluted layer and one lined layer together will get you corrugated packaging material.

You should also keep in mind that different combinations of flutes and lines can create different “wall thicknesses.” In other words, additional layers mean additional strength, and understandably, a higher cost.

How Long Can You Store Flattened Corrugated Boxes?

This is a tricky question, as much of it depends on the amount of moisture in the air. Storing these boxes in a humid area, for example, can weaken the adhesive bonds between the liners and the fluted medium. Storing them in a location that isn’t humid enough can be just as bad—the corrugated material can dry out, becoming brittle and faded.

We also want to emphasize the word “flattened” here. Flattening your boxes before you store them will save you a significant amount of space, so keep that in mind if you find your operation growing. Flattening your corrugated boxes will also reduce damage to their edges!

All of that being said, assuming conditions are ideal, we recommend you store corrugated boxes for no more than 90 days. You’re the best judge, though—if your corrugated boxes appear to have deteriorated over any period of time, you’re better off erecting new ones to maintain the integrity of your packaging process.

When Should I Be Using Corrugated Material?

If we were to sum this up in one word, we’d say that corrugated material is the best option if you want to reliably transport your goods. Their sturdy layers make corrugated boxes a great option for both storing and transporting products to factories, warehouses, and retail stores. Consumers, in turn, might recycle corrugated boxes to move furniture to a new home or to package up a gift for a relative.

How Are Corrugated Boxes Made?

That’s a fair question—how are these boxes manufactured to be so sturdy, anyway? If you really think about it, the fact that several layers of paper can be used to hold, say, a heavy TV set or a kitchen table, is pretty incredible in and of itself.

As complicated as this all may sound, corrugated box manufacturers have refined this process and made it as efficient and user-friendly as possible. When secondary packagers receive case blanks, it’s time for both case erectors and case sealers to come into play.

Case Erectors

Case erectors convert case blanks into fully-erected cases that are sealed on the bottom. It’s as simple as that. Good case erectors will reliably convert blanks into squares at speeds that are both efficient and safe. On average, a case erector can make a box in as little as one-third of the time it takes a person to do it manually.

Case Sealers

Case sealers are pretty straightforward, too—their job is to seal the cases that were formed by case erectors. This equipment can handle a large range of case sizes and seal a high number of cases per minute.

A reliable case sealer won’t jam or break down, and will firmly handle your cases—but not so firmly as to damage your product! Like case erectors, high-quality case sealers are efficient and safe to operate.

Have More Questions About Corrugated Boxes? INSITE Is Here to Help

INSITE designs advanced, streamlined case sealers and case erectors for the secondary packaging industry. Our equipment is straightforward, easy to operate, and delivers sturdy corrugated boxes efficiently and without the excess parts and needless functions that can gum up the packaging process. If you have any questions about corrugated packaging or our state-of-the-art packaging machinery, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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