How It’s made: Corrugated aka Cardboard

How corrugated boxes are made

We've all had that feeling. Palms sweaty. Knees weak. Arms heavy… I’m talking about the anticipation of a package’s arrival to our front door. We just can’t contain ourselves when we know we’re looking out for a package. You check the tracking number every 30 minutes even though you already signed up for the notifications, but what are you supposed to do? Wait patiently like a sane person who doesn't get giddy at the thought of a package? No thanks, right? 

 

And you know the best part? The best part is slicing through that tape, opening the cardboard box and feasting your eyes on your precious cargo. Well before you head to your “go to” online store and unleash your credit card on shopping cart after shopping cart, I want to teach you something you never knew you wanted to know and it’s about the box your order came in. 

 

Children use them to make their own car or train. College students have used them to make furniture. We all use them to move, but how are they made? How is it that paper can hold such heavy, fragile, valuable contents? The key is in the construction. 

 

Cardboard is made up of three structural components all of which are made of partially recycled materials:

1 wavy sheet of paper called a flute + 2 flat sheets of paper called liners = one corrugated board i.e. cardboard

 

First a sheet of paper gets passed through two giant rollers and during this process, the flat sheet is beveled and steamed so that it becomes the wavy flute at the center of the cardboard. The two liners of flat paper are added on each side of the flute one at a time using a glue containing mostly water and starch. The air pockets created by the flute strengthen the board’s integrity and provide a cushion of protection. Some manufacturers even use additional flute and liners for added padding so its innards don't get squashed at the slightest bump.

 

So next time you open up that long-awaited package (because you didn't spring for the expedited shipping) think of the loving cardboard hands that cradled it through its journey to its forever home. Think about the cardboard box it called home for several days. Think about the flutes and the liners and say a silent thank you.