Pakd Explains – Corrugated Cardboard

Corrugated Cardboard Information

Corrugated paper was first patented in England in 1856, and used as a liner for tall hats.  Corrugated board followed, patented and used as a shipping material by late 1871.

The first machine for producing large quantities of corrugated board was built in 1874 and in the same year corrugated board developed to have a liner sheet on both sides – the structure of corrugated board as we know it today.

Known to most people as corrugated cardboard, or corrugated fibreboard in the USA, whilst being familiar to us, this durable and miraculous material enables flimsy sheets of paper to become strong and provide cushioning to protect even the most delicate products during shipment and display.  The familiar arches are long-proven to provide exceptional strength, rigidity and insulation.  Corrugated board withstands top and side pressure and dropping, and is ideally suited to stacking.

Custom Corrugated

Modern corrugated packaging provides much more than just protection.  It can be used to provide ultimate product presentation whilst being tailored to suit very diverse, individual products. Corrugated packaging can also be designed to collectively package small items, which is an important factor in the trade market as it relieves handling processes.

Standard corrugated cardboard is manufactured using approximately 80% recycled paper with the other 20% of the material made up from virgin grade paper which is often obtained from sustainable sources.  It should be noted that as with most other raw materials, if you increase the volume used, you will reduce the overall cost.

Corrugated board is the material of choice for a wide-range of packaging situations from the large, strong cartons needed in furniture packaging and removals packing, through shelf ready (SRP) packaging and point of sale (POS) packaging for a vast range of goods that need not only protection but whose packaging must fulfil marketing and communication objectives.  It is versatile, robust and practical, economical and eco-friendly.

Corrugated cardboard is manufactured to different flute sizes on large high-precision machinery lines called corrugators which form the inner fluted layer (fluting) on geared wheels, and which are fixed to the smooth outer linerboards with adhesive.  Linerboards are often kraft paperboard (of various grades) but may be bleached white, mottled white, coloured, or pre-printed.

Corrugated paper board can be specified by the construction, flute size, burst strength, edge crush strength, flat crush, basis weights of components, surface treatments and coatings, etc.  The choice of corrugated medium, flute size, adhesive, and linerboards can be varied to engineer a corrugated board with specific properties to match a wide variety of potential uses. Double and triple-wall corrugated board is also produced for high stacking strength and greater puncture resistance.

Corrugated board is easily creased or scored to provide controlled bending of the board to make boxes. Scoring, slotting and die-cutting are used to create carrying holes or handles and complex inner compartments to secure a wide variety of products.  Boxes are often shipped flat and joints are most often sealed with adhesive but may also be taped or stitched, stapled or secured with strapping, etc.

Die-Cut Cartons

Die-cut cartons are the strongest, most durable packages due to their one-piece construction.  Delicate goods can be fixed in place with the incorporation of specially constructed fittings.

Die-cut cartons are regularly used in retail environments, they can be printed and manufactured with window sections, one-piece outer and inner sections and locking tabs, meaning they are perfect for displaying products whilst providing protection. They are also very quick to assemble and rarely require taping.  Die cut cartons rarely require a second stage of manufacturing such as gluing, meaning they are fast and non-expensive to produce in volume.

Shelf-Ready Packaging

Shelf ready packaging (SRP) has been a key development in refining modern product handling, distribution and retail systems while reducing packaging waste due to consolidation of product packaging. Corrugated packaging can be designed to collectively package small items, an important factor in the retail trade marketplace as it relieves handling processes.  The qualities of corrugated cardboard make it an essential material in the FMCG and FMCE supply chains.

Specification and Printing

The size of a box can be measured for either internal (for product fit) or external (for handling machinery or palletising) dimensions. Boxes are usually specified and ordered by the internal dimensions.

Box styles in Europe are typically defined by a 4-digit code specified by FEFCO: for example, a regular slotted ‘4 flap’ container (RSC) is coded 0201. FEFCO styles are normally the basis for more complicated special designs that incorporate, for example, locking tabs or internal fittings.

Prefabricated corrugated sheets are relatively thick and spongy, so are mainly printed using a flexographic process, which is by nature a coarse application with loose registration properties.

A more recent development is a hybrid product called ‘Single-Face Laminate’ which takes advantage of the structural benefits of corrugated board but has one liner made of a pre-printed sheet of paperboard such as SBS (solid bleached sulfate) allowing corrugated cartons to benefit from the high-quality lithography printing previously only available on Litho printed paperboard cartons.


Corrugated flutes such as B and C flutes or BC flute are preferred where some product cushioning or protection during transit is required.

Narrow flutes such as E and G flute are denser and therefore provide excellent rigidity, whilst offering the benefit of being lighter in weight than the comparable solid board or paper board grade.  Narrow flute is better suited to being laminated or mounted to a pre-printed sheet of solid board for a retail application.

Flute size is only part of the mix in specifying the correct corrugated medium for your end use.  Adhesives and linerboards can be varied to engineer widely differing corrugated boards with the right properties for their potential use.  Double and triple wall corrugated board can also be produced using mixed flute sizes in order to take advantage of the different benefits of large and small flute sizes.

Corrugated Board and the Environment


Used corrugated containers are an excellent source of fibre for recycling. They can be compressed and baled for cost effective transport to anywhere in need of fibre for papermaking. They are reduced to a pulp slurry which is then used to make new paper and board products.

Recycling corrugated cardboard helps conserve natural resources and energy. It also helps countries without sustainable wood resources to build a local paper and packaging industry and develop exports to global markets. Over 70% of corrugated board manufactured is recovered, recycled and made into new corrugated products throughout the world.

Get in touch if you wish to talk to us about Corrugated Board Packaging.