Corrugated boxes are everywhere. In just about any retail store you go to all the items in that store are delivered in and even in some displayed in corrugated boxes. It is estimated that some 30 million tons of corrugated boxes are produced annually in the United States along with over 8 million tons of plain boxes. In fact, just about everyone in America has gotten something they ordered from Amazon, or some an online retailer that was shipped to their home in this ingenious product known as a shipping container made from corrugated cardboard. We’re all familiar with a cardboard box but what is a corrugated box made of? Well, it’s also made of cardboard, but very special cardboard. The board in between the plain cardboard is fluted. A panel of this box is made from two pieces of kraft paper with a fluted piece glued in between them. This construction makes the finished material tough and much more durable because it can be made into boxes and shipping containers that can be used to move about any product imaginable. Another major benefit is that it is not only strong and inexpensive but it can even be recycled and reused.
Because this packaging and display material from a corrugated box supplier is made of paper it is also light-weight and strong. These seem to be opposing characteristics but because of this materials construction it is not. The materials strength comes from the manufacturing process and the precise placement of the corrugations in the cardboard box. The finished material also readily takes ink making it very easy to print on. But what is Kraft paper? Like all paper Kraft paper is made from wood pulp but the pulp made from the Kraft process is different. The Kraft process leaves most of the lignin in the wood intact in the pulp fibers making the fibers and consequently the paper stronger. Lignins are organic polymers that form the structural material that supports the wood fibers in the pulp.
This material was developed in 1884 by a Swedish chemist, Carl Dahl who developed a unique process for making paper products out of wood pulp that resisted tearing, splitting, and bursting. The raw material used for this kind of paper are usually only from the fastest growing trees like the pine tree. After the trees are cut down and stripped, all the limbs are removed until only the main truck remains. At the mill, the trunk is then subjected to the Kraft process which is used to break down the wood into a fibrous pulp.
Kraft paper has been manufactured since the early 1900s. Since that time and after the refinement of corrugations the boxes and packaging made from this material have developed to a high state of efficiency and productivity. Designers today are making very creative and technical shipping and display containers that require complex 4 colour printing and die cutting. Most of these complex designs are done with sophisticated CAD or computer aided design machines where the design can be stored and called at a moment’s notice. This allows the designer the ultimate in flexibility and a way to store and modify his work indefinitely.