Have You Ever Wondered Where Cardboard Boxes Come From?

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Custom cardboard packaging

It’s a thing that every single person uses everyday, but we never think about. Nearly every item we purchase and consume comes in some sort of packaging solution. Even if the product isn’t packaged when we buy it, it was most likely delivered to the store in corrugated boxes. In fact, 90% of products sold in the United States are delivered in corrugated boxes and displayed in retail packaging boxes.

Unlike many other products used in the world, cardboard packaging solutions are a incredibly green material. About 90% of corrugated boxes produced in the United States are returned to a recycling facility when they no longer hold their purpose. Even the cardboard scraps that corrugated cardboard manufacturers produce throughout manufacturing process get recycled as many as six times before being disposed of. New boxes are usually made from 45% recycled material.

Now, you are probably dying to know how these wonder-cardboard packaging solutions that have never crossed your mind before today are made, so we put together a quick overview of how corrugated boxes manufacturers make the boxes that are an integral part of almost every industry:

  1. Corrugated cardboard is composed of three layers: a wavy sheet called a “flute” that is sandwiched between two outer liners. The flute is usually entirely recycled. Often times, the liners are made of partially recycled paper, unless it is a premium box where new material is used. The first step in the corrugated cardboard process is for the recycled paper that the flute is made of to be sprayed with hot steam and rolled through a corrugator machine that imprints the wavy pattern into it. This is a similar to hair being pressed in a crimping iron, and coming out wavy.
  2. Then, adhesive is sprayed on each side of the flute and the outer liners are attached and pressed tightly together by the corrugator machine, creating massive sheets of cardboard.
  3. Next, the rough edges of the cardboard are trimmed off with the an extremely thin circular saw. The end pieces that are cut off go back to the paper making plant, to be used in another batch of cardboard.
  4. The corrugator machine next cuts the huge, freshly-made cardboard sheets into the size of the boxes being produced.
  5. The final task of the corrugator machine is to separate the box blanks and stack them in layers. A corrugator machine can usually produce about 11 miles of cardboard per hour!
  6. Next, the cardboard is fed into a giant trimmer that cuts the future boxes’ flaps and handles. This machine works at a pace of 80,000 boxes per hour!
  7. Now, a converting machine folds, creases, and glues the boxes so that they can be shipped flat and put together by the customer who uses them.
  8. Finally, if printed retail packaging is being produced, the boxes are taken to an ink kitchen to have the logos printed on them before being shipped off to the customer.

Do you have any other questions on how cardboard packaging is produced? Let us hear them in the comment section below!

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