💡Learn about the 4 most popular paper grades available for packaging

Today manufacturers within the packaging industry offer a wide range of materials and options to consumers and business owners making it extremely flexible to get the desired packaging results you want.

However, with so many options made available to you, how do you know which material to use?

Paperboard is one of the most common types of material being used in almost any every industry and can be very versatile as it is available in a variety of paper grades.

Source: PakFactory

When considering your potential packaging options, examining the paper grade options is the best place to start, as each grade has its unique purpose and benefits.

Cardboard isn’t just “cardboard”.

You may already notice that a standard cereal box may be different than your cosmetic product box.

The differences are quite distinctive from the feel to the finish and appearance of both boxes.

For starters, what exactly makes these two boxes so different from each other?

The paper grade!

Paperboard is popular among product packaging for its versatility, flexibility, and durability.

Understanding the different types of paper grade helps you develop your packaging more effectively and understand why printing quality differentiates between the substrates.

Clay Coated News Backboard (CCNB)

Made from a blend of recycled newsprint, mixed secondary paper, and old corrugated containers.

Note: Commonly used for low-cost folding carton packaging due to its lower tensile strength and printing quality output.

Cartons made from CCNB/CRB can be used for dry food, pet food, laundry detergent, etc.

The main disadvantage of these boxes is that they will absorb large amounts of water if in contact with wet conditions.

Although it is the most cost-effective out of the bunch, this grade is typically the least favorite due to its high moisture, low weight resistance, and lower printing quality output.

However, it still does the job as a cost-effective option and is commonly used by budget cereal brands.

Solid Bleached Sulfate (SBS)

This type of board is considered to be the finest quality for product packaging.

The process involves chemically pulping fibers and then bleaching it.

The bleached pulp is refined and formed into boxes.

According to Statista, 71% of the world’s supply of SBS comes from North America and is used for packaging retail products. 

The superior quality consist of white surfaces both inside and outside of the box making it optimal for printing.

SBS can be both coated on only one side (C1S) or both sides (C2S).

SBS board quality also allows for special processes such as embossing & debossinghot foil stamping or spot UV printing due to its grade quality.

These types of boxes are popular with most industries and are used to package food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, confectionery, baked items, tobacco, etc.

Source: PakFactory

SBS boxes are also the most preferred for personal care items.

Folding Box Board (FBB)

Folding box board is a chemically and mechanically manufactured multi-ply pulp material making it strong and durable.

The smooth surface provides optimal opportunities for high quality printing like offset.

Unlike SBS, which is entirely made out of the chemical pulp, folding box board mechanical pulp composition provides a stiffer composition.

They both, however, are produced from virgin fibers and suitable for all types of product packaging.

These boxes are excellent for packaging foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals and is also India’s primary packaging substrate used by businesses.

Natural Kraft (SUS) and Coated Unbleached Kraft (CUK)

Made from recyclable materials, this type of board is typically a popular kraft packaging option. At least 80% of virgin unbleached wood pulp is used to make CUK and provides the material with a thicker and more durable construction.

When coated with polyethylene (PE) resin, this paper grade becomes food-safe and ideal for takeout services.

Beyond being versatile and food safe, PE resin also makes the material more tear resistant, sturdy, water/grease resistant and optimized for high quality printing.

Source: PakFactory

While SUS is also tear resistant, durable and sturdy, the surface is covered with a naturally occurring clay coating which also provides an optimal surface for printing.

However, both CUK and SUS are a natural brown color, so it’s important to consider color output as colors may appear more muted in tone.

SUS/CUK are great choices for food-safe packaging and or for products that promote a more natural feel.

It Doesn’t End There…

To further understand the ideal paper grade for your packaging, it is important to understand the durability, strength and thickness of the material.

This will help create a suitable box based on the product’s weight and the structural design of the packaging.

Measuring the thickness of the paperboard is by determining the PT/GSM of the material.

Essentially, the higher the GSM/PT Unit, the thicker the material and the more weight it can carry.

Not sure what material best fits your packaging and product?

Contact us for support!

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