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What is the Difference Between Cardboard and Corrugated Boxes?

by Tim Spicer May 29, 2020

What is the Difference Between Cardboard and Corrugated Boxes?

What is the Difference Between Cardboard and Corrugated Boxes?

Let me first warn everybody and say that what you are about to read will be shocking to those people who are not in the packaging supply business.  I am here to break the bad news to you that your everyday brown box that you have used hundreds of times for moving or storage in your attic is in fact NOT a cardboard box.  Technically, it is referred to as a corrugated box.

Let’s first start with that brown box in your attic.  If you take one of the flaps on the box and look at its edge, you will notice a zigzag pattern running between two sheets of fiberboard.  This zigzag pattern is known as fluting.  When two sheets of fiberboard are glued to this fluting, you have yourself a corrugated box.  The flutes running along the inner wall not only provide cushioning, but they also add both vertical and horizontal strength to the carton.  There are different grades of fiberboard and various styles of fluting that make some boxes stronger and heavier duty than others.  Typically though, even the most basic combination of fiberboard and fluting makes for an ideal shipping carton approved by the US Post Office, UPS, or FedEx.

If on the other hand, you open a cupboard in your kitchen and pull out a box of cold cereal, you will discover a different story.  If you look at the flaps on the top of this box, you will not see any zigzag fluting pattern.  You will only see one layer of fiberboard or chipboard as it is also known.  This type of box is technically a cardboard box.   This example has a paper layer adhered to the chipboard with the high quality graphics but it is still simply a chipboard or cardboard box.  Other uses of chipboard boxes are soap boxes, toothpaste boxes, gift boxes, or other boxes not intended to be used as an outer shipping carton. 

Tim Spicer
Tim Spicer


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