What Is Folding Carton?

What is folding carton?
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⭐️ Delving deeper into folding carton packaging
An Overview of Folding Carton
Types of Folding Carton
Printing, Finishing and Coatings
Benefits of Folding Carton
Folding Carton across Industries

Folding carton is one of the best packaging options for lightweight products.

There are various folding carton types, making it a very versatile packaging that can work for many different kinds of products.

Available flat or pre-glued, there is a lot of flexibility when you design folding carton packaging.

You can choose to create packaging with unique structural designs and high-quality print, making it an attractive retail and consumer product option.

Folding carton boxes are also a popular choice for packaging due to their sustainable nature.

There are a lot of environmental benefits to using folding cartons since they are 100% recyclable!

In this post, we’ll look at the history of folding carton, the process of making this type of packaging, types of folding carton packaging available, and some exceptional customer experiences.

An Overview of Folding Carton


The folding carton box marks an important time point in history because it was one of the first packaging types to gain popularity.

It’s been in use since the 1800s and has steadily gained popularity due to the ease of procuring raw material and quick production.

In its earlier days, paperboard was stuck together by strings and tacks to create the packaging.

Originally made by hand, folding carton manufacturing has evolved a great deal since.

Let’s discuss the process of creating folding carton boxes in a bit more depth.


Generally, folding carton boxes are constructed from paperboard (i.e., pulp from scrap paper) and reprocessed to create the packaging.

The paperboard undergoes a cutting, folding, and lamination process and is sent to packagers as a flat dieline.

More specifically, folding carton manufacturers process the paperboard will prepare the cutting dielines, and then sheet the paperboard.

This essentially means cutting the rolls of paperboard into flat sheets fed into a printing press. Any images or artwork are printed onto the sheets at this point.

After printing and any other post-press processes, the paperboard sheets are cut, folded, and glued together to create your optimal packaging.

Example of printed folding carton
Source: Vive Sana

Depending on the packaged products, the folding carton will go through further structural engineering processes to hold the product.

The paperboard stock can easily crease and is resistant to cracks, making it easy to send flat and assemble according to needs.

Types of Folding Carton

Most folding cartons are created by manually and chemically manufacturing pulp material.

This gives the packaging its stiffness, making it more versatile to use. Raw kraft folding carton offers sustainability.

The bleached chemical layer often added to folding carton packaging offers endless printing and finishing capabilities that allow for a high end feel!

We’ll now look at the popular types of folding cartons and the benefits they offer.


Bleached and unbleached kraft is the primary type of papergrade used to create folding carton boxes.

Named after the pulping process used to make the material, developing Kraft is quite simple.

Wood is grounded to a pulp, and the resulting product is chemically treated with sulfate to create paper.

It is an eco-friendly option, and there are multiple types of Kraft paper grades available, making it a great choice across multiple industries.

Types of Kraft

Natural Kraft

Natural Kraft is an eco-friendly packaging material that is durable with a premium look.

Commonly used for;

  • food-safe packaging
  • Cosmetics
  • Beverages
  • Pharmaceuticals

This paper grade is easily able to withstand shipping and distribution processes due to its durability!

Coated Bleached Kraft and Coated unbleached Kraft

Both of these types of packaging materials are created from natural Kraft.

The only real difference is whether the packaging materials are bleached or not, but otherwise, these are very similar.

Both are lightweight options, making them a good choice for small packages that aren’t too heavy.

Furthermore, these paper grades offer an optimal surface for;

  • Design elements
  • High quality printing
  • Finishes 
  • Coatings

Printing, Finishing, and Coatings

Once the folding carton box paper grade has been chosen and the dieline has been created, the next step for folding carton manufacturers is printing, finishing, and coating the packaging.

This is when branding and marketing comes into play and assess the customer experience when they encounter and open the packaging.

The goal is to create cost-effective premium packaging and tailor the printing, finishing, and coating for industries.

For example, the food and restaurant industry usually requires wax coating to avoid grease markings and leaking.

Aqueous coatings are used for folding carton for an environmentally-friendly option. This type of coating is used for adding branding and marketing elements to the overall packaging without using harmful or toxic inks.

Folding carton boxes offer many benefits as a sustainable packaging option across industries.

Benefits of Folding Carton

Folding carton boxes offer many benefits, which is why they have consistently been used for packaging throughout the years.

Retail Friendly

One of the main advantages of using folding carton boxes is that these are great for retail shelves.

You can create premium packaging with custom folding carton boxes and really capture consumer attention.

The durable nature of folding carton boxes makes them suitable for retail since they are less likely to be damaged during transport than other packaging types.

Furthermore, through its versatility in printing, finishing and design process capabilities folding carton looks great on display and allows for a high end feel as well as successful brand differentiation.

Environmentally Friendly

The materials used to manufacture folding carton such as Kraft make it an excellent option if you’re searching for environmentally-friendly packaging material that is still affordable and looks good.

The process of creating Kraft, as well as the recyclable nature of folding carton boxes, make it a great sustainable packaging choice.

Through the use of sustainable inks and coatings such as aqueous coating, as briefly discussed, allows for a fully sustainable product packaging that falls directly in line with your eco-conscious shoppers!

Versatility in Printing and Finishing

When it comes to making your product stand out, folding carton boxes can elevate it without compromising quality.

They are comparatively less bulky, and you have a lot of options when it comes to high-quality printing and finishing.

Folding carton manufacturers can help you identify and choose the perfect design and finishing to ensure that your folding carton box stands out and offers a high end customer experience.

Cost Efficiency

The other reason folding carton is such a popular choice is because of its cost efficiency while still offering a high end feel.

They are a very affordable packaging option, especially when evaluated against all the benefits they provide.

Folding carton is a relatively low-cost option if you’re looking for high-quality, sustainable packaging.

It’s because of these benefits (and many more!) that folding carton boxes are used for packaging across different industries, as we’ll explore below.

Design Elements

The great thing about folding carton is because of its cost efficiency, you’re able to splurge on design elements that elevate your brand identity beyond your expectations.

While printing and finishing capabilities are high versatile for this packaging material, it’s worth noting the endless design elements folding carton is able to take on as well.

Embossing & Debossing

Embossing & Debossing is a process that presses images, designs, and texts into materials to create a raised or depressed image of your artwork.

This is exceptionally impactful for things like;

  • Logos
  • Certifications
  • Artwork

Spot UV Printing

UV printing applies ultraviolet (UV) light to white card stock or color-printed paper products. The UV light cures the varnish applied to the printed material.

This coating targets specific areas/spots of the printed product to seal their color in, produce an attractive sheen, and protect the surface against moisture and other types of wear and tear.

The use of spot finish is also to create a diversity of textures on a printed surface for a dramatic, eye-catching effect.

Spot UV is one of the many specialty printing techniques used to produce impactful packaging to differentiate brands/products from each other.

Like lamination, it increases the perceived quality of printed items. Note that spot UV ‘printing’ is a misnomer, as it is a coating technique as opposed to a printing method.

Folding Carton across Industries

You’ll likely find folding carton packaging in almost every industry you can think of.

Some of the industries using folding carton packaging include;

We’ll look at some of these industries more in-depth to get a better idea of how folding carton manufacturers handle packaging requests:

A pharmaceutical use for folding carton boxes

In this case study, high volumes of folding cartons were needed to transport medication to Africa.

The folding carton types needed to be integrated into the company’s existing automated folding process.

Example of Pharmaceutical packaging
Source: The Dieline

The folding carton manufacturer was able to fulfill the order by closely studying the engineering behind the company’s automation process and design packaging accordingly so that it could be packed at the desired speed.

All in all, this folding carton packaging was a success in packaging pharmaceuticals for a great cause!

Sensitiva: The Power of Alternative Health & Wellness 

Sensitiva’s goal was to use sustainable packaging materials that communicated their brand values across products of varying sizes.

To achieve this, folding carton boxes with anti-scratch matte finishes were used to create packaging for a variety of products.

Example of Sensitiva Packaging
Source: Pakfactory

Multiple artwork styles were printed together in a single production with folding carton, thereby making it more time and cost efficient.

Folding Carton with Windows

This project aimed to design folding carton packaging where a customer could see the product in the packaging, also known as window patching!

It also needed to include high-quality prints on the packaging to explain its features and benefits.

Using windows in the package design secured with additional reinforcements was the strategy used.

This allowed customers to see the product while still keeping it secure within the packaging.

Furthermore, the product became the main attraction which was very beneficial in this case!

Folding carton is a great packaging option across a versatile range of industries.

With it’s endless printing and finishing capabilities a high end customer experience can be achieved while establishing a strong brand narrative throughout.

At the end of the day, your packaging speaks for your brand and products. Folding carton is a cost efficient way to do so effectively, regardless of the industry your business runs in!