An innovative folding carton design can be a game-changer when it comes to having a successful product launch. Folding cartons can be customized to any product and can be constructed with different features and printed with custom artwork. Also, the aesthetic benefits, having an appropriately designed carton can help to control manufacturing and packaging costs.
A good carton designer can create an “efficient” carton that is “designed for manufacturability”, while still achieving the look and style desired for the targeted market. There are several different factors that need to be taken into consideration during the design process. Two of the most important are structural design and material selection.
Designing Structure for Manufacturing Efficiency
It is critical in the box design process to consider the method in which the box will be assembled and how it will be filled once it is printed and ready for the production line. There are two basic designs that are most commonly used for folding cartons; an automatic bottom (or “auto bottom”), and a glue bottom. The auto bottom is designed to quickly and easily assemble on the production line. The auto bottom is typically manually assembled and without any extra steps that could cause production delays by creating a bottleneck on the line.
The glue bottom carton however runs through a specialized cartoning machine that assembles the carton and glues it shut automatically. Both are effective options but are typically designated for different applications. Most commonly the glue bottom is used for higher volume and for products that get a “direct fill” (100K units and higher per run). The most effective way to be sure your design is efficient is to collaborate with both the box designer and your contract packaging partner in cartoning.
Selecting the Right Material
Once the packing application has been determined and the carton design is finalized, there are two other considerations that need to be taken into account. The first consideration is the material that is used for the carton. The two most common materials that are used are solid-bleached sulphate (SBS) and Clay Coated News Back (CCNB). In order to find out which is best for a specific design you need to consider factors like production volume, carton structure, product type, supplier stock, rigidness and printability. The SBS is a “virgin” material meaning the grain in the chipboard is consistent which can maximize high-end graphics. CCNB is a recycled board which is not as effective for printing and is also less rigid than an SBS material.
The second consideration is the board thickness or the “caliper”. Chipboard is available in many different calipers, so in order to determine the best thickness for your application both product weight and the assembly process must be considered. For reference, most “standard” chipboard boxes you see at the grocery shelf such as Macaroni and Cheese boxes, cake and pancake mix boxes will be .016 or .018 point caliper. Many counter displays, which often require slightly more rigid chipboard, might be as high as .024 point thick board. The best way to know if the carton is the right material and that the caliper is sufficient is to run samples thru a mock production line duplicating the filling and packaging process as close as possible to actual production.