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FLEXO Magazine : October 2010
Technologies & Techniques How to Make a Folding Carton An introduction to the Production Process Editor’s Note: The following was authored by the Paper- board Packaging Council. It is intended as a primer to the segment, ideal for new employees with no carton production experience, helpers or even non-production personnel. You see them every day, in supermarkets, toy, hard- ware and department stores; everywhere retail items are sold. They come in all shapes, colors and sizes, ranging from plain, brown, rectangular boxes to exquisitely printed, embossed packaging of such intricate structural design they are almost too beautiful to open. A folding carton is one of those everyday items you might take for granted, or perhaps you have asked yourself as you push your shopping cart past aisle after aisle of products on the shelves, “I wonder what goes into making one of these boxes?” Anyone who has ever walked through a “box shop” for the first time is stunned by the complexity and effort involved. Folding carton manufacture is a combination of science, engineering and art; if you wanted to build a state-of-the-art factory from scratch, it would require an investment of tens of millions of dollars in complex, sophisticated equipment, not to mention a commitment to finding the highly skilled pressmen and craftsmen with the knowledge necessary to turn an idea into a finished folding carton. The key to the nature of a folding carton is in its name. If you are a toy maker, for example, unless you are a very big company, you are likely to buy your packaging from an outside source, so the boxes must be shipped to your plant where you will fill them with your toys, then send them on to the retail stores. Unlike other types of packaging, the folding carton is shipped flat, enabling many more cartons, perhaps hundreds, to be packed in each corrugated shipping con- tainer (Figure 1). At the toy plant, the folding carton is erected either by hand or automatically, after which it is filled with product. Freight costs to the end user are therefore much less than rigid packaging, which must be shipped already formed. • A folding carton is distinctive from a rigid package in that it consists of a solid sheet creased and folded into a particular shape. • While flexo continues to increase its share, litho remains the primary printing process. • Folding a score on a box that runs with the grain is much easier than folding it across the grain. 40 FLeXO october 2010 www.flexography.org carTOns FLX_Oct10_mech.indd 40 10/15/10 12:32 AM
Sustainable Fall 2010