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Making Corrugated Cardboard: How Does The Process Work?

May 16, 2008
Many of the items within supermarkets and department stores were shipped safely to the store in cardboard boxes made of corrugated cardboard and many times the products are displayed in these boxes. It is due to the versatility of corrugated cardboard that it is developed to display products in stores and protect them during shipping.

Corrugated cardboard is the preferred material for shipping and displaying due to the fact it is very strong. Despite its strength it is light-weight and consists of three layers of what is called kraft paper. From the paper mills, the kraft paper is shipped to a corrugating plant. The plant then crimples and glues the kraft paper to make corrugated cardboard. It is then cut to the desired size, undergoes the printing of text onto the box, is folded and glued, which results in the cardboard boxes that we encounter every single day.

The machine, called a corrugator, is as long as a football field. This means it measures around 300 feet. Some of the rolls of kraft paper are used as liners while others are used as the corrugator medium. After the machine has done the job of heating, gluing, and pressing the paper into cardboard, the large sheet of cardboard that results is then sent to machines that can take care of printing the writing on the box, cutting it, and gluing it to form a complete box. The finished boxes are then banded together and shipped to the companies that will be shipping products in the boxes. Such companies that receive these boxes are food processors, toy makers, auto parts distributors, and any company that must ship goods to other locations around the world.

As for the raw materials in which the boxes originate, pine trees are the raw material used in the creation of corrugated cardboard. The companies that make corrugated cardboard usually own the land in which these trees are grown so they can harvest the trees and initiate the process of converting the trees into kraft paper. There are chemicals that are used to create a fibrous pulp from the wood chips of the trees. This is called the sulfate process. After the pulp is made, the remaining fibers are then placed into a paper machine that forms them into the large rolls of kraft paper through a process that presses, dries, and rolls the fibers.

Nevertheless, when making a finished box, there are only a few other materials that are needed such as glue made from corn starch and paraffin waxes that can make a box waterproof it is going to be shipping food products. Inks are also used to print the necessary text on the box. Many times this is necessary for boxes that will be used as part of a display in a store.

However, recycling is another great way to make a corrugated box. The box is broken down and the process is quite similar to that of making a corrugated box from scratch. Recycled corrugated boxes provide the same strength and quality. The only difference is that another tree doesn't have to be harvested in the construction of the box and energy is conserved. Recycling corrugated boxes also makes it cheaper to create a new box because the tree harvesting and various other steps such as pulping are left out of the equation. This cost-efficient way of making corrugated boxes makes it cheaper on the manufacturer, on the distributor receiving the boxes, and that reduction in cost also trickles down to you, the consumer. That is why it is convenient for everyone to recycle their cardboard boxes and cut down on the corrugated box-making process, which can benefit the environment and the consumer.
About the Author
Supplying packing, shipping and moving supplies, including recycled and used moving boxes. Our comprehensive selection includes boxes, tubes, mailers, paper, foam, strapping, edge protectors, anti static wraps, packing peanuts and more. Based in Austin, Texas with locations in Austin and Round Rock. http://www.ecobox.com
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