What Are the Different Cardboard Types and Its Usage?

Sharing is caring!

Cardboard boxes are a common item found in almost all homes in the USA. Although people use it every day, they know little about its types, designs, and usage. After doing some research I’m writing this comprehensive guide to the types of cardboard boxes and its usage. I will cover from its basics to its technical aspects.

What are the Different Types of Cardboard?

Everything you purchase comes in a cardboard box. These boxes, although made of paper, do provide significant structural strength and protection to the item it contains. Cardboard papers can be broadly classified into solid cardboard, rigid cardboard, and corrugated cardboard.

Rigid Cardboard:

Rigid cardboards are what is used in hardbound book covers, shoe boxes, mobile phone boxes, and even puzzles. It is made by pressing kraft paper sheets with an adhesive between each kraft layer. The bundle is pressed until the desired thickness is achieved. It is a sturdy board which is not meant to flex and is mostly used in packaging designer products. Moreover, it is layered with printable paper which is then designed to give its exclusive appearance.

Solid Cardboard:

This is also called folding carton boards or boxboard, which is relatively thin and has a smooth coating on the outer side. It is primarily used for retail packaging where the surface is printed with their company logo and other ad copy. This is also commonly used in packing cosmetics, cereals, food products, software CDs etc. It is comparatively flexible but crushes under little weight or pressure, but provides water resistance for its outer layer.

Corrugated Cardboard:

Corrugated cardboards are made from gluing a corrugated medium between two liner boards. The corrugated structure is what gives it strength, making it ideal for packaging and shipping items. There are various types of corrugated cardboard which we will discuss later; however, the strongest is the Triple Wall corrugated cardboard, which is made from 3 corrugated medium between 4 layers of liner boards.

Single wall cardboard boxes are the most commonly available general purpose boxes. For heavy-duty industrial items, boxes are generally custom-ordered by the companies.

Other cardboard types include Chromo cardboards, Cup cardboards, and Drawing cardboard. Chromo cardboards are used in retail purposes such as under the collars, in the cuffs, inside folded men’s shirts etc. A cupboard is used to make paper cups and plates. Drawing cardboard is a thin, smooth and white paperboard using for drawing purposes.

What are the Different Types of Corrugated Cardboards?

Corrugated cardboards are composed of 3 material: the corrugated medium, outer liner paper, and inner liner paper. The corrugated or fluted paper is glued between the liner paper, giving it its rigidity and strength.

Types of paper used in making corrugated cardboard:

Corrugated board liners are typically made from either Kraft or Test liners. Kraft is made from softwood trees which contain virgin fibers, making it stronger as well as easier to print on. Kraft is the most commonly used paper for the outer liner of corrugated medium. Test liner papers are recycled papers which are double layered. This is not as strong as Kraft and is not easy to print on. It is primarily used for the inner liner of the corrugated medium. It is not as efficient as Kraft but is cheaper, hence it is used in the inner liner.

The liner paper is again made of two layers. The underside layer is glued on the fluted medium whereas an outer finer cover layer is added to aid printing.

Although Kraft and Test liners are the most commonly used liner papers, there are manufacturers who use other types of papers as well. Here are other paper grades used for the liners:

  • Kraft
  • Test 2
  • Test 3
  • Chip
  • Fully Bleached White
  • White Top
  • Mottled Kraft
  • Oyster
  • Semi Chem
  • Waste-Based

Semi Chem and Waste Based paper are used to make flutes and not as liners.

The Weight of Paper in GSM

Papers used for the liners have a certain weight. Common types of paperweight used for the kraft liners include:

  • 125 GSM
  • 150 GSM
  • 200 GSM
  • 300 GSM

GSM is an abbreviation for Grams per Square Meter.

Some common paperweight for flute include:

  • 90 GSM waste based fluting (All waste based fluting are 100% recycled material)
  • 105 GSM waste based fluting (Most common flute standard)
  • 112 GSM semi-chem and waste based fluting
  • 150 GSM semi-chem and waste based fluting
  • 175 GSM semi-chem

Different Wall Types in Corrugated Cardboard

Corrugated cardboard can be broadly classified into 4 groups based on their wall structure:

  1. Single Face
  2. Single Wall
  3. Double Wall
  4. Triple Wall

Single Face:

This is simply a glued on corrugated medium on a kraft liner board, whereas the other side is exposed without a liner. This cardboards usually comes in rolls and is used to wrap fragile items within boxes. Crumpled single face cardboard is also used as a filler in packages.

Single Wall:

In this type of corrugated cardboard, a single corrugated medium is glued between two layers of liners. It is also called as Double Face. This is the most commonly available type of cardboard box available to consumers. It has a smooth interior and exterior which keep items snugly in the box as well as helps in printing company logos, labels, and other information.

Double Wall:

In this type of cardboard, 2 fluted medium is glued between 3 sheets of kraft liners. It gives all the benefits of a single wall board with an added strength, which is typically used to carry heavier items. Double wall boxes are preferred to accommodate larger stacks in warehouses.

Triple Wall:

Here 3 fluted medium is glued between 4 sheets of kraft liners. It is a cost-effective and lightweight alternative for wooden shipping crates. These boxes can hold the maximum crushing pressure, hence it is used to transport industrial types of equipment.  

Different Types of Flutes Used in Corrugated Cardboard

The flute is the corrugated section used between the liners. Its height and thickness can have a significant impact on the performance of the box, as well as its weight, usage, and cost. The most common flute profiles are A, B, C, E, & F; however, it is possible to combine one or more flute profiles to create other grades such as an ‘EB’ or ‘BC’ flute.

Here is the respective thickness of each flute profile:

  • A Flute: 5mm
  • B Flute: 3mm
  • C Flute: 4mm
  • E Flute: 1.5mm
  • F Flute: 2mm
  • BC Flute: Double Wall: 7mm
  • EB Flute: Double Wall: 4.5mm

One can abbreviate cardboard to get a string of characters for its construction type. Such as you can use a medium size, if the outer liner Kraft is 150GSM and Test liner is 150GSM. For a B fluting, you can go for a 150K/B/150T.

A-Flute:

This is the original fluting grade for boxes. It consists of 36 flutes per foot and is 4.8mm thick. One can use it for double wall boxes. Moreover, you can create a pad to place at the bottom of the package.

B-Flute:

This is the most commonly used flute profile for most types of cardboard boxes used in a packaging application. It makes the cardboard box lightweight and gives all-around protection and strength. Consists of 47 flutes per foot and are 3.2mm thick. Primarily used to pack food items, retail packaging, die cut inserts etc.

C-Flute:

This is an all-purpose flute grade, giving the box superior cushioning, stacking and printing advantages. This is used in master shippers, shipping cartons, displays etc. It consists of 42 flutes per foot and is 4mm thick.

E-Flute:

It is the second most commonly used grade for corrugated boxes. It consists of 90 flutes per foot and is 1.6mm thick. The fine flute makes up for high compression strength and crush resistance. It also offers a smooth surface, ideal for printing labels and logos. You can use this for eco-friendly packaging and in retail packages, POP packaging, etc.

F-Flute:

This is an eco-friendly alternative for folding carton. The flutes are tighter with 128 flutes per foot and a thickness of 0.8mm. It gives a high-value look and protects items from damages. You can use it for printing custom boxes, retail packaging, and Point-of-Purchase displays.

Here are a few typical performance indicators for varying corrugated boxes:

Edge Crush Test Guidelines

Single Wall Corrugated Box

Max box and contents weight in lbs Max outside dimension in inches Min ECT in lbs/inch width
20 lbs 40 inches 23
35 lbs 50 inches 26
50 lbs 60 inches 29
65 lbs 75 inches 32
80 lbs 85 inches 40
95 lbs 95 inches 44
120 lbs 105 inches 55

Double Wall Corrugated Box

Max box and contents weight in lbs Max outside dimension in inches Min ECT in lbs/inch width
80 lbs 85 inches 42
100 lbs 95 inches 48
120 lbs 105 inches 51
140 lbs 110 inches 61
160 lbs 115 inches 71
180 lbs 120 inches 82

Triple Wall Corrugated Box

Max box and contents weight in lbs Max outside dimension in inches Min ECT in lbs/inch width
240 lbs 110 inches 67
260 lbs 115 inches 80
280 lbs 120 inches 90
300 lbs 125 inches 112

Bursting Strength Guidelines

Single Wall Corrugated Box

Max box and contents weight in lbs Max outside dimension in inches Min bursting test in lbs per inch width
20 lbs 40 inches 125
35 lbs 50 inches 150
50 lbs 60 inches 175
65 lbs 75 inches 200
80 lbs 85 inches 250
95 lbs 95 inches 275
120 lbs 105 inches 350

Double Wall Corrugated Box

Max box and contents weight in lbs Max outside dimension in inches Min bursting test in lbs per inch width
80 lbs 85 inches 200
100 lbs 95 inches 275
120 lbs 105 inches 350
140 lbs 110 inches 400
160 lbs 115 inches 500
180 lbs 120 inches 600

Triple Wall Corrugated Box

Max box and contents weight in lbs Max outside dimension in inches Min bursting test in lbs per inch width
240 lbs 110 inches 700
260 lbs 115 inches 900
280 lbs 120 inches 1100
300 lbs 125 inches 1300

Common Corrugated Cardboard Grades and its Content Weight

Grade Contents Weight
125K/B/125T 5 kg
150K/B/150T 10 kg
200K/B/200T 15 kg
200K/B/300T 20 kg
300K/B/300T 30 kg
125K/BC/125T 15 kg
150K/BC/150T 20 kg
200K/BC/200T 30 kg
200K/BC/300T 35 kg
300K/BC/300T 40 kg

What are the Different Styles of Cardboard Boxes?

Corrugated box styles can be broadly classified into 3 groups:

  1. Slotted boxes
  2. Telescope boxes
  3. Folders

Slotted Boxes

  • Regular Slotted Container (RSC)
  • Half Slotted Container (HSC)
  • Overlap Slotted Container (OSC)
  • Full Overlap Slotted Container (FOL)
  • CSSC – Center Special Slotted Container
  • CSO – Center Special Overlap Slotted Container
  • SFF – Center Special Full Overlap Slotted Container

All slotted boxes are typically made from one piece of the corrugated board also called as ‘blank.’ The ‘blanks’ are then scored and slotted for easy folding. These boxes are flat and easy to carry where flaps can be easily secured using staples or tapes. The various types of Slotted boxes are based on the varying length of the inner and outer flaps.

Regular Slotted Container (RSC):

This is the most common style of corrugated box. In this type, the inner flaps are shorter and have gaps in between, whereas the outer flaps are half of the box width, making them meet in the middle when folded.

Half Slotted Container (HSC):

This is the same as RSC except that the top has no flaps.

Overlap Slotted Container (OSC):

This is also similar to RSC; however, the outer flaps overlap by at least one inch, instead of meeting at the middle. One can use this design in the event, the length of the box is significantly larger than the width.

Full Overlap Slotted Container (FOL):

Similar to RSC, except the fact that the outer flaps completely overlap each other when closed.

Slotted Container (CSSC):

‘Center Special’ suggests that the inner flaps meet at the middle instead of having gaps like other boxes mentioned above. This type of box has both inner flaps and outer flaps meet at the center.

Overlap Slotted Container (CSO):

Same as CSSC but the length of the box cannot be more than the twice the width. Although the inner flaps meet at the center, the outer flaps may overlap depending on the length/width ratio.

Full Overlap Slotted Container (SFF):

This is same as CSSC but the outer flaps completely overlap each other when closed.

Telescope Boxes

  • Full Telescope Design Style Container (FTD)
  • Design Style Container with Cover (DSC)
  • Double Cover Container (DC)
  • Interlocking Double Cover Container (IC)
  • Full Telescope Half Slotted Container (FTHS)

Telescope box consists of two parts. It includes a top piece which is the lid and a bottom piece to store the item. 

  • Full Telescope Design Style Container (FTD) – For a true telescope design box, the lid must extend past at least ⅔ the depth of the bottom piece.
  • Design Style Container with Cover (DSC) – Similar to FTD but the lid doesn’t extend to ⅔ the depth of the bottom piece.
  • Double Cover Container (DC) – The body has a tubular structure with a lid on both sides which are interchangeable. You can use it to pack oddly shaped objects.
  • Interlocking Double Cover Container (IC) – Similar to DC but the covers interlocks with the body to prevent the cover from getting separated from the body. This type of container typically carries hazardous materials.
  • Full Telescope Half Slotted Container (FTHS) – It consists of two HSC containers that fit each other in a full telescope style.

Folders

  • One Piece Folder (OPF)
  • Bookwrap
  • Five Panel Folder (FPF)
  • Wrap-Around Blank
  • Walker Lock Tray
  • Display Tray

Folders are basically a piece of cardboard which could have multiple parts. The base is flat where the item sits and the rest of the cardboard will have scored which will fold around the items.

  • One Piece Folder (OPF) – It has an unbroken bottom where the rest of the cardboard extend to create sides as well the flaps.
  • Bookwrap – This is similar to OPF but the side flaps are longer which folds over to create protective side blocks.
  • Five Panel Folder (FPF) – Also called as Harness Style Five Panel Folder, it has a fifth panel that covers the entire top of the box.
  • Wrap-Around Blank – This is a regular RSC container but the items get wrapped around by an automated packing machine.
  • Walker Lock Tray – It is made from one layer of corrugated board which gives an unbroken bottom, where the ends fold over and lock in place.
  • Display Tray – These are stackable boxes, where items are kept for display.

Some Technical Terms Associated with Corrugated Boxes and its Grades

  • Backing Liner – A layer of compressible paper added on the sealed surface to compensate for any irregularities. The layer is made from a new board or pulp and provides additional strength as well as water resistance.
  • Blank – A flat piece of corrugated board which will be folded into a box.
  • Burst damage – Burst damage is a term given to the burst or damage that occurs on a cardboard box because of high pressure from the top. It usually occurs when you stack too many boxes over a thought box.
  • Carton Board – These are thicker and stiffer boxes with medium compression and moisture resistance. These boxes are non-flute in nature. 
  • Chop edge – the length of the board/sheet.
  • Clay Coat – It is a thin layer of Kaolin coating on the box, which aids in printing the surface of the box.
  • Deckle – The width of the board on a corrugator.
  • Duplex – It is a type of paperboard which is made of two layers. The outer layer comes with a coat to make it water resistant. You can use it to make paper cups and plates.
  • Fluting profile – The shape of the corrugated medium
  • Grammage – Also referred to as GSM, it is the weight of paper in g/m2 (grams per square meter)
  • Mottled – A paper liner with an off-white appearance
  • Virgin Material – A material which has not been processed in any form.
  • FEFCO – The European Federation of corrugated board manufacturers.

Conclusion

There is more to corrugated cardboard boxes than meets the eye! Cardboard boxes have a different science altogether and the shipping industries give great attention to the type of the box used for a particular product. E-commerce industries too give attention to the type of boxes used for a specific type of product to prevent extra charges on box weight as well as dimension. Companies can save a significant amount of money simply by using the right type of cardboard box for the right type of product.

Next time you consider buying a cardboard box to ship your items or to move your stuff, you know exactly what to purchase and how to use. Here goes a comprehensive guide to cardboard and corrugated cardboard boxes. We have tried to cover all aspects of corrugated boxes, in the event you find anything missing, do let us know in the comments, we will try to add your queries as well.

Sharing is caring!

SEE ALSO:  Best Cutting Machine for Crafting - Cricut or Silhouette Cameo?

Leave a Comment

shares