Packaging Types – Rigid Boxes (Set-up Boxes)

What is rigid packaging

⭐️ Delving deeper into packaging materials with rigid boxes
What are Rigid Boxes or Set-up Boxes?
Types of Rigid Packaging
Rigid Box Styles
The Cost of Production and Construction
The Benefits of Rigid Boxes
The Drawbacks of Rigid Boxes
Rigid Box Alternatives
Rigid Boxes Across Industries

Rigid packaging is a popular choice for certain types of products, mainly due to the support and luxury feel it offers.

It is also known as premium packaging due to its weight and expense.

This article will look at what rigid box packaging is, how its constructed, drawbacks and advantages, and explore some successful examples for you to consider.

Let’s get started!

What are Rigid Boxes or Set-up Boxes?

Rigid boxes are a sturdy paper-based box consisting of high-thickness (often 2-3mm) chipboard, wrapped by decorative specialty paper.

They are also commonly referred to as set-up boxes, gift-boxes and premium packaging.

Rigid boxes are a premium packaging option commonly used for;

  • Board Games
  • Luxury products – eg. Jewelry
  • Gifts

Furthermore, rigid packaging offers a premium feel that enhances your customers’ unboxing experience allowing for more opportunities to establish a strong brand narrative.

Rigid boxes offer many branding capabilities through printing and finishing including;

  • Hot stamping
  • Embossing/debossing
  • Coatings
  • Decorative elements

Rigid vs. Flexible Packaging

You can probably guess how flexible and rigid packaging diverge just by their names.

Rigid packaging is a trending packaging segment, consisting of thick paperboard and refers to hard, solid packaging contrary to its alternative – flexible packaging.

Rigid packaging, as the name suggests, won’t change its shape. It offers strong construction and support and is comparatively more luxurious in the look and feel.

However, it won’t be as durable or protective as other packaging types such as corrugated, but still offers your products a sturdy construction.

Flexible packaging, on the other hand, can bend easily, so it can take whatever shape you need.

Example of rigid packaging
Source: Behance

Its main differentiator in this context is that it is versatile. 

Flexible packaging essentially engulfs any sort of packaging that is easily bendable such as folding carton, and it’s available in many sizes. 

It is important to recognize the distinction between rigid packaging and rigid boxes.

Rigid or set up boxes are made from thick and sturdy paperboard to create luxurious packaging solutions. 

However, the rigid packaging industry engulfs a wide range of materials including metals and glass. 

In this instance, we are focusing on rigid paperboard boxes

Rigid boxes account for a small but fast-growing segment within the gigantic rigid packaging market. 

The rigid paperboard market was valued at USD 496.72 billion in 2016, and continues to grow at a high annual rate (CAGR) of 5.8%!

Types of Rigid Packaging

The two different rigid box types include partial finish and full finish rigid boxes.

Partial Finish

Partial finish is a type of rigid packaging where the wrapping and chipboard are only somewhat complete.

The wrapping is only used to finish the box’s outer surfaces, and the chipboard inside is visible and bare; meaning it is not finished.

Example of how partial finish boxes are made
Source: PakFactory

Partial finish rigid boxes are made with a single-piece of chipboard with perforated crease lines for folding and wrapped without the additional exterior layer which leaves the kraft or grey chipboard material exposed. 

Partial finished rigid boxes take much less time to produce as less material is needed in the construction process. 

In summary;

  • Wrapped only to finish the inner edge of the boxes
  • The rigid chipboard inside is unfinished and visible
  • The inner chipboard is in one-piece with perforated crease lines and folded
  • Tape may be used to secure chipboard before wrapping
  • The chipboard finish can come coated on one side using White or Kraft.
example of part finished rigid packaging
Source: Pakfactory

Full Finish

With a full finish, no chipboard is left exposed as the rigid box is wrapped entirely.

Thicker chipboard is also used, with about 2-3 mm thickness.

The inner chipboard is separated into pieces for each side of the box, and it can be laminated with various finishing options depending on needs.

Full finish rigid boxes also have an additional layer of wrapping, which can be white (default) or printed.

In Summary;

  • Wrapped entirely so no chipboard is left exposed
  • The inner chipboard is in separate pieces for each face of the box
  • No tape is used before wrapping boxes
  • Thicker chipboard (or greyboard) at 2 – 3 mm thicknesses
  • Laminated with different finishing options
Example of full finish rigid packaging
Source: Pakfactory

Rigid Box Styles

Tube Packaging

Also referred to as rolled-edge tube packaging, rigid tubes are a unique and eco-friendly  paper packaging option for those looking to stand out and be different.

Rigid tube packaging is a type of rigid box that is cylindrical in shape, has no corners and is usually made in a telescopic or shoulder-neck style of opening.

The most popular example of a rigid tube is a Pringles container.

Rigid tubes are popular for packaging smaller products such as drinks, cosmetics, stationary and accessories with a convenient opening method.

Example of tube packaging
Source: Pakfactory

Magnetic closures

The satisfying ‘snap’ of a magnetic closure rigid box can be oddly addicting as the two magnets in the rigid boxes lock together to a firm close.

Magnetic closure rigid boxes have two magnets placed in the rigid boxes that lock together to firmly seal the box shut.

Because of its sturdy and solid construction, customers will be very hesitant to throw these boxes out, making it a sustainable option since rigid boxes can make excellent storage units for jewelry, makeup and just about anything else (depending on the size of the box).

example of magentic rigid packaging
Source: Pakfactory

Plus, it’s structural engineering allows for a unique and high end feel. The magnetic closure offers a sleek unboxing experience that your customers are bound to remember!

Magnetic closure boxes can come in standard and collapsible styles.

While the standard style is stronger and more durable, the collapsible magnetic closure rigid box is packed and shipped flat, which can greatly reduce shipping and handling costs.

Collapsible rigid boxes generally come with double-sided tape that adheres to the collapsible faces of the box making it no longer collapsible for your customers.

Without close examination, your customers won’t even know they were collapsible to begin with. Genius!

Telescopic rigid boxes

Telescopic, or telescope rigid boxes can also be refered to as topload, 2-piece rigid boxes, or lid and tray rigid packaging with the lid coming off of the base vertically.

This is your traditional Monopoly game box or iPhone box type of opening, though the two boxes look and feel drastically different.

example of Telescopic box
Source: Pakfactory

Higher-end telescope boxes (like smartphone boxes) are made with precise measurements to allow friction and a slow-opening speed, so the base can slowly slide out from under the lid.

Telescopic boxes are more sturdy than most rigid box styles since there are four faces of both the lid and base overlapping when closed.

This makes it an ideal choice for products that are expected to be used multiple times, making it a robust packaging option.

Partial cover rigid boxes are a type of telescopic rigid box in which the lid only covers part of the base, making it easier to open and close.

Drawer Style Rigid Boxes

There’s something gratifying about pulling a drawer open, especially a small, box-sized drawer with a new product inside of it.

Drawer style rigid boxes are also known as slipcase, slide, or match rigid boxes, since they open similarly to match-boxes.

example of drawer style rigid box
Source: Pakfactory

Either with an attached ribbon pull or a semi-circle thumb hole, drawer style rigid boxes are similar to telescopic rigid boxes, but on a different angle – literally.

Telescope boxes are great for products you want to keep straight and level for when a customer opens the box up.

Opening horizontally instead of vertically can be great to prevent an accident or even a disaster, like this clip of a user unboxing his brand new iPhone during an interview.

Drawer style boxes can also be made with integrated mechanisms for child-safety to prevent young children from opening products that are potentially harmful.

Book Style Rigid Boxes

The book style rigid box is a creative and innovative rigid box packaging option because it opens like a hardcover book.

It can be made with a straight or rounded spine to make it feel exactly like a book, and magnetic attachments can also be added to this rigid packaging style.

example of book box
Source: Pakfactory

While this is quite a unique packaging style it can be very beneficial to adding to your brand identity depending on your niche.

A good example would be pairing your candle brand with books to create an optimal unboxing experience.

Shoulder Neck Rigid Boxes

This type of rigid box has multiple layers, including a different nick or shoulder inner layer that a lid can lay on top of.

This is an excellent type of packaging if you want to create a unique unboxing experience since it can be customized further to match your brand colors and styles!

Once you have decided on the type of rigid box packaging you prefer, the next step is to think about what inserts will go inside.

Designers often choose to leave the neck portion of the shoulder-neck rigid box partially exposed to give a multi-layer or multi-packaging impression that can create a sense of mystery for customers as they gaze upon a high-end product.

example of shoulder neck rigid boxes
Source: Pakfactory

Additional Packaging Materials

Additional packaging materials like box inserts are very popular when designing rigid packaging.

Packaging inserts are highly recommended when you’re looking to get the ultimate unboxing experience with a rigid box.

A custom packaging insert is made specifically for your product, helping it stay in place to provide an elevated presentation while offering a high degree of shock protection, even against drops and rough handling.

There are cases where products are either round, or rectangular and can fit within a rigid box perfectly, however these cases are more rare.

Custom inserts most commonly come in;

  • Paperboard
  • Corrugated
  • Molded pulp
  • Foam
  • Plastic
example of packaging inserts
Source: Pakfactory

The Cost of Production and Construction 

The construction of rigid boxes is unlike any other packaging style. Similar to the process of wrapping a gift, rigid boxes are actually made by precisely wrapping paper around solid boards.

These boards usually come in a kraft or grey base color, made partially from recycled fibers, but can also come in white and other base colors.

Each chipboard is individually glued together to create your rigid box.

Producing rigid boxes involves an extended process which can take 1-2 weeks longer to produce than other packaging types.

Currently most rigid box production processes involve some degree of manual assembly and quality checks of greater detail to inspect for defects and ensure quality standards.

This also makes rigid boxes more costly than alternative packaging types discussed in the Alternatives section below.

As a form of high-end packaging, rigid box packaging is also one of the more expensive types of packaging. 

Costing up to 3 times as much as alternative paper packaging styles such as folding carton and corrugated packaging, rigid boxes are popular in the luxury retail industry.

Read more on creating cost effective premium packaging

The higher price can be easily justifiable to many brands as luxury packaging can add a tremendous amount of perceived value to both the product and brand. 

  • Box Style: Slide/ Match
  • Dimensions: 6″ x 6″ x 2″
  • Coating: Matte Lamination
  • Additional Processes: Spot UV
  • Quantity: 1500 boxes
  • Price: $5.45 per box
  • Box Style: Magnetic Closure
  • Dimensions: 9.5″ x 12.5″ x 2.5″
  • Coating: Soft Touch
  • Additional Processes: Spot UV, Custom Foam Insert
  • Quantity: 2000 boxes
  • Price: $5.73 per box
  • Box Style: Tray & Lid
  • Dimensions: 4.3″ x 3.7″ x 1.77″
  • Coating: No Coating
  • Additional Processes: Custom Insert
  • Quantity: 1000 Units
  • Price: $3.74 per unit
  • Box Style: Round Tray & Lid
  • Dimensions: 4″ x 4″ x 4″
  • Coating: No Coating
  • Additional Processes: Foil Stamp, Custom Foam Insert
  • Quantity: 800 boxes
  • Price: $4.50 per unit

The Benefits of Rigid Boxes

Other than its solid and protective construction, rigid packaging offers an elusive, luxurious and robust look and feel that is unmatched by most other packaging types.

Often paired with a custom insert, rigid packaging keeps products well-protected to withstand harsh handling.

Rigid box packaging is made to be reusable and kept by buyers, rather than just thrown away after unboxing their product.

After the fact, they are often used to store jewelry, accessories, or any household items.

With these benefits in mind, rigid boxes build an embedded element to accompany your product adding significant value to your brand.

Quite often, customers will no longer view your product as just an individual item, but rather view the package and product as a set when your product is encased in a rigid box. 

It is human nature to enjoy gifts and rigid gift boxes are currently the gold standard of gift-type packaging boxes.

The value of a branded rigid gift box can hold its own in improving your products ROI.

example of rigid packaging
Source: Pakfactory

Drawbacks of Rigid Boxes

While rigid boxes are a great option for small to medium product sizes, they can become surprisingly less resilient at extra-large sizes.

Rigid box packaging is extremely solid for small to medium size products but they can become more prone to ripped edges at larger sizes due to increased load on the outer layer of wrapping paper.

It is always recommended to use a thicker paper with a laminated finish to increase durability at larger sizes.

Example of rigid packaging
Source: Pakfactory

Rigid Box Alternatives

While rigid boxes are often viewed in a league of their own when it comes to presentation, popular alternatives include folding carton boxes and high-end corrugated packaging.

The reason these packaging types are a great alternative for rigid boxes is because of their cost efficiency and versatility in high quality printing and finishing capabilities.

In the folding carton packaging group, the most comparable style is the Double Glued Side Wall Tray & Lid and the Double Wall Frame Tray & Lid, which operate similarly to the telescope rigid box styles.

Read more about folding carton.

Apple uses a custom version of this folding carton style for its MacBook packaging:

example of folding carton Apple packaging
Source: Pakfactory

If you’re opting for a corrugated box alternative, we recommend the popular Tab Lock Roll End Corrugated Box or Roll Ends with Lid styles.

Read more about corrugated packaging.

Both of these styles offer excellent presentation settings allowing customers to open the boxes in a neat and simple fashion.

Example of tab lock roll end corrugated packaging
Source: Pakfactory

Rigid Boxes across Industries

With imagination comes courage and with courage comes new and exciting ideas. 

Check out a few of these cool rigid box ideas from different brands.

Coca-Cola: The Taste of Celebration

Telescope Rigid Box with Custom Insert

Contender Brands: Combining Simplicity, Joy, and Laughter

Rolled-edge Rigid Tube Packaging with Custom Insert and Game Cards

Avec La Vie: Healing in a Package

Telescopic shoulder neck rigid box with game cards

Beda Beads: Inspiring the Next Generation of Creators

Magnetic Closure Rigid Box with Custom Insert

Have we answered all of your rigid box packaging questions? Get in touch with a Product Specialist to get more ideas on your next packaging project!

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