When discussions about packaging arise, it’s easy to get confused.
We’re all used to hearing the standard word “cardboard” in this context, and generally, we don’t think much further than that.
However, when you’re thinking about your product and what kind of packaging it needs, it comes more into focus.
Cardboard isn’t just one kind of packaging material; there’s more to it.
Cardboard is one type of material, and corrugated cardboard is another. They are often confused for one another but serve different purposes depending on the product.
Corrugated cardboard has a lot of benefits that make it an excellent packaging choice.
This post will explore the differences between cardboard and corrugated cardboard and some of the benefits and use cases for this packaging.
This post can help you decide what kind of packaging you need and how working with corrugated packaging companies can help ensure your product packaging is an excellent experience for your customers each time.
We’ll first look at the corrugated definition, its history, and some of the key differences between a corrugated box and cardboard boxes.
What is Corrugated?
Dating back to centuries ago, corrugated has been around for a lot longer than we might think.
Borne out of necessity to pack goods in a protective, durable type of packaging, corrugated packaging began to take shape.
The simplicity and wide availability of raw materials made corrugated a prime choice for packaging.
Although it has received many modern touches over the years, corrugated boxes remain one of the most popular packaging options, in all its forms.
Corrugated vs. Cardboard – What’s the difference?
As we delve further into corrugated packaging and its uses, it’s essential to set the scene first and talk about the key differences between cardboard and corrugated and why it’s crucial to distinguish between the two.
Cardboard is generally made of thick paper stock or heavy paper pulp.
It’s typically used for smaller product packaging and containers.
It can also be used as structural support in packaging to keep items from losing their shape during transit.
Corrugated boxes and cartons are not made from the same materials.
Made from three layers of paper; corrugated boxes consist of an inside liner, outside liner, and fluting that runs between the two.
Corrugated packaging is used for shipping boxes, as corrugated sheets are sturdy and durable!
Key differences between the two include:
- Raw materials used for the packaging
- Weight: Corrugated is lighter than cardboard
- How the packaging is used
Knowing the difference between the materials is essential in deciding what kind of packaging will work best for your products.
If you’re thinking about using corrugated boxes, a corrugated packaging company can work with you on the design and prototype process to create the right option for you.
We’ll now look at why corrugated is such a popular choice across different industries.
The Corrugated Industry
Whether your company is shipping out large volumes of packages or sending a few products, corrugated boxes are among the best options.
The reason why it’s so popular is because of its durability, stability and versatility.
You can trust that products will remain safe in the packaging, and it can be designed in a way that customers love.
It’s a win-win packaging material!
This has become more apparent during the pandemic as e-commerce sales continue to rise.
Corrugated packaging is used across the retail industry and is becoming more needed as e-commerce sales shoot up.
In 2021, the e-commerce industry is projected to increase to 2.14 billion shoppers, leading to a higher demand for this kind of packaging in retail.
We’ll now take a look at some of the types of paper grades that go into creating corrugated boxes.
Types of Paper Grade
Brown kraft: As the name might suggest, this is a naturally brown colored paper derived from different fibers.
The color is influenced depending on the fibers used, the pulping process, and the paper mill’s location.
White top kraft: Sturdy and durable paper, white top kraft is also affordable and is best used for printed packaging.
Mottled kraft: Appearance-wise, it is similar to the White top kraft, but it has a more textured appearance overall.
Birch faced kraft: Another paper similar to White top kraft but has a bleached top ply.
Fully bleached white: A natural-looking Kraft liner that can also withstand additional bleaching despite being comparatively less durable.
If budget is a primary concern, test paper can be another option to consider.
Compared to Kraft, it has a lower cost.
However, the downside is that because there is a higher percentage of recycled-fiber content, it makes for a less durable paper liner.
Additionally, the high recycled fiber content also makes the paper more difficult for printing, which is another downside for those seeking strong branding elements on their packaging.
This is why test paper is used as an inner liner board of a corrugated essential rather than the primary material.
Going further, Test 2 is partly recycled liner paper, and Test 3 is fully recycled liner. These are more durable comparatively.
White Top is a white-coated recycled liner, and Oyster is a mottled test liner.
The differences between the two are nuanced, so it’s essential to do your research in choosing materials.
If you’re not sure what you want, consider working with a corrugated packaging company to help unsure in selecting the most durable option while still being sustainable.
Furthermore; check out some tips on choosing the right packaging materials for your products!
We’ll now look at flute grades in more depth.
Part of the raw materials that make up a corrugated box, fluting, gives the box its thick structure.
Corrugated board is made by combining two sheets of paper, or ‘liners,’ to a corrugated inner medium, i.e., fluting.
These three layers combine and are assembled in a way where the overall structure has more strength.
It’s what helps the box bear weight and resist damage.
The fluting or arches between the liner boards allow the material to be stacked and durable.
Flutes also serve as insulators and are excellent from a protection standpoint, especially for perishable items.
However, there are multiple types of corrugated options as well as different flute sizes out there.
This allows you to form a customized corrugated box that’s completely tailored to your needs, so greater flexibility is involved.
It’s also a much better option for custom printing, so your branding can stead out on corrugated boxes.
The great thing about corrugated packaging is the capability of stacking your material to give your products that extra support they may need during shipping and distribution.
Let’s take a look at some of your thickness options.
- Liner board: This is essentially the ‘face’ of the fiberboard sheet. Corrugated sheets are glued on to this.
- Single face: This refers to a single corrugated fiberboard. It is glued to one flat sheet of linerboard and shows the fluting on one side.
- Single wall: This is probably what you’re most used to seeing, as this is fluted fiberboard glued between two sheets of linerboard. Single-wall corrugated boxes are a lighter form of packaging and considered one of the “weaker” options.
- Double-wall: This uses three sheets of linerboard and two corrugated fiberboards in between rather than just one.
- Triple wall: The amounts are increased, with four sheets of linerboard and three corrugated fiberboards in between. These can withstand heavier weights, going up to almost 300 lbs!
There are several different kinds of corrugated flutes available too, depending on what you need.
The thickness (or thinness) of fluting can influence what kind of packaging you choose for your product.s. These are some of the options available:
A-flute: It is ¼” thick, offering high protection and cushioning. Great for stacking and compression, it is one of the best options for packaging fragile items.
B-Flute: ⅛” Incredibly strong, you’ll likely see these used for counter displays and canned food products. It works best for printing and cutting, so it’s more malleable. It can withstand crushing and puncturing, making it very durable for inner packing and external packaging.
C-Flute: 3/16”, this is an incredibly flexible option, making it versatile in use. Its crush resistance, stacking, and printing are all suitable, so it’s a popular choice for packaging items for shipping and glass, dairy, and other products.
E-Flute: 1/16,” this is less commonly seen in packaging. It is very thin, so it serves as an alternative for paperboard folding cartons. Ti can also be used to condensed for reduction in outer box dimensions. It is good compression strength and crush resistance, and its thinness yields it a better choice for fragile items.
F-Flute: 1/32”, this is protective yet smooth, offering a better experience for high-quality printing. It is often used for clamshell packaging and specialist and retail packaging.
AC flute: This combines two protective corrugated grades, which is one of the best options when your packaging needs extra strength and protection.
BC Flute: This combination is best for items in transit, such as air or sea shipping, as it offers more protection.
EB Flute: Another option for strength and protection during transit, EB flute is a better option if you’re seeking to print designs onto the corrugated boxes as it has a better surface for it.
Because of all these options, there are a lot of benefits to using corrugated packaging; here are some to consider:
Benefits of Corrugated Packaging
Corrugated cardboard and corrugated boxes have seen enduring popularity because of the many benefits they offer and the relatively low cost of production.
Some of the main reasons for their popularity include:
Protection: Corrugated is one of the best packaging options available for those seeking to protect their items during transit. It can handle the impacts of being moved around and shipped, and the cushioning offers a lot of support.
Durability: Corrugated boxes are durable because of their protective features.
The boxes themselves withstand a lot of impact without damaging the products inside, and it also serves as a barrier to the elements for products.
Environmentally-friendly: Sustainability has become increasingly important, and packaging especially. Corrugated boxes are made of recycled fibers.
They are also easily recycled, making them a better contender for sustainable packaging.
Customizable: Because of the many options available for raw materials and their environmental-friendliness, corrugated boxes are the best option for those looking for bespoke packaging, including printing.
The shapes and thickness are easily customized, alongside the graphics and surface printing.
But what are some of the industries that corrugated packaging works best for?
Many industries benefit from using corrugated packaging, especially e-commerce.
Depending on the size and shape of the packaging chosen, shipping and mailing can be more manageable.
As discussed, corrugated cardboard and corrugated boxes can withstand a lot of the wear and tear that occurs during shipping, making them the safest option.
E-commerce businesses benefit immensely from corrugated packaging, especially during the strange times we have been living in.
With the reliance on online shopping growing exponentially, businesses have been opting for corrugated packaging to ensure their products arrive on their customers’ door steps in pristine condition.
Furthermore, corrugated packaging offers great versatility in printing capabilities allowing their brand to stand out in the mail rooms of their customers.
Corrugated is also the best option for sustainability and recycling, as discussed above.
Customers want to be loyal to brands, but brands need to demonstrate some commitment too.
By choosing sustainable packaging, you can build an immense amount of trust with the customer and add lots of value to your brand narrative.
Corrugated packaging enables you to develop customer relationships while doing good for the planet.
Corrugated boxes are eco-friendly, recyclable packaging options that look great too – a total win-win.
In fact, recycled corrugated is used to make clay-coated news back (paper grade), thereby giving it another life!
Here are some examples of corrugated packaging successes we’ve worked with to give you a better idea of what the end product looks like and what corrugated boxes can be used for.
Working with 1canoe2, Pakfactory developed unique packaging that was true to their brand and continued shipping products safely.
The digitally printed corrugated boxes were printed incredibly fast while allowing the brand total creative freedom to design the packaging as they saw fit.
The result? A beautiful package that created a fantastic experience for customers as soon as they received their products.
This is just one example of all the different ways corrugated packaging can be used, but you can find more inspiration for corrugated packaging here to find the right fit for your product.
Corrugated packaging offers a host of benefits at a relatively low-cost.
You can have a lot of creative freedom in designing the packaging precisely as you wish with this material, which can be a lot of fun.
You can also work with a packaging company to help ensure that your design is the best fit for your product both structurally and aesthetically and provide an amazing experience for customers each time they receive something from your business!