BOX TYPES

What Is Corrugated?

Corrugated fiberboard or "combined board" has two main components: the liner and the medium. Both are made of a special kind of heavy paper called containerboard. Linerboard is the flat material, typically on the outer surfaces of the board but also on the inside for some structures, that adheres to the medium. Medium is the paper that is formed into arches or flutes on the single face and glued between the linerboard facings.

Flutes

Architects have known for thousands of years that an arch with the proper curve is the strongest way to span a given space. The inventors of corrugated fiberboard applied this same principle to paper when they put arches in the corrugated medium. These arches are known as flutes and, when anchored to the linerboard with an adhesive, they resist bending and pressure from all directions, helping to make corrugated boxes one of the best protective packaging solutions on the market.

corrugated-boxes-protective-packaging

When a piece of combined board is placed on its end, the arches form rigid columns, capable of supporting a great deal of weight. The flutes act to keep the linerboard sheets separated, maximizing the bending rigidity of the board. When pressure is applied to the side of the board, the space in between the flutes acts as a cushion to protect the container's contents. The flutes also serve as an insulator, providing some product protection from sudden temperature changes. At the same time, the vertical linerboard provides additional strength and protects the flutes from damage.

Flutes come in several basic designations. Flutes with the same designation have similar size, but may have various flute profiles and number of flutes per foot within a given designation:

  • A flute -  The original flute profile for corrugated board. It has about 33 flutes per foot and is 3/16” in thickness.

  • B flute - Was developed for canned goods that were self-supporting, and so did not require boxes that supported much load. It has about 47 flutes per foot and is 1/8” in thickness.

  • C flute - Was developed next as an all-purpose flute, and it has about 38 flutes per foot and is 5/32” in thickness.

  • E flute - Was the next successful flute profile, and it has about 90 flutes per foot and 1/16” in thickness.

  • F flute - Was developed for small folding carton type boxes. It has about 125 flutes per foot and 1/32” in thickness.

In recent years not only has there been a proliferation of flute profiles, but there has been increase in the variation in flute characteristic measurements for any given flute profile. Flute profiles will vary, sometimes significantly, because the corrugator rolls are manufactured to address a variety of aspects (such as speed, paperboard characteristics, economies, etc.).

Combined Board

The below illustration demonstrates four basic types of combined board that are most commonly created from linerboard and medium using the variety of flute structures:

  • Single Face: One corrugated medium is glued to one flat sheet of linerboard.

  • Single Wall: The corrugated medium is glued between two sheets of linerboard. Also known as Double Face.

  • Double Wall: Three sheets of linerboard with two mediums in between.

  • Triple Wall: Four sheets of linerboard with three mediums in between.

Generally, larger flute profiles deliver greater cushioning and vertical compression strength, while smaller flute profiles provide enhanced graphics capabilities. Smaller flutes such as E and F also provide enhanced structural capabilities for primary (retail) packaging compared to paperboard (folding cartons). There is a good deal of variance across the industry in the range of flute sizes based upon the container characteristics that are desired for each application, as well.

corrugated-boxes-101-protective-packaging


MULLEN VS ECT

Most industries have a standard for measuring or describing the construction of a particular material. However, in the corrugated industry, there are two standards – the Mullen Test and the Edge Crush Test. This leads to quite a bit of confusion in the marketplace.

The Mullen Test, which has been used for many years, tests the bursting strength of corrugated board – how much pressure is required to rupture the wall of a piece of corrugated material. Boxes conforming to the Mullen Test standard are identified as 200# Test, 275# Test, etc. The higher the number, the stronger the corrugated box.

The Edge Crush Test, which was developed in the 1990’s, measures the stacking strength of corrugated board – how much top to bottom pressure a box can withstand before crushing. Boxes conforming to the Edge Crush Test standard are identified as 32ECT, 44 ECT, etc. Again, the higher the number, the stronger the corrugated box. For most general purpose applications, 200# Test and 32ECT are interchangeable; however, the board comprising 200# Test material is slightly heavier than the 32ECT equivalent, making it somewhat more expensive. 32ECT boxes have become extremely popular since the Edge Crush Test was introduced, partly due to cost, and partly because stacking strength is a more meaningful measure of how a box will perform in the field.

Mullen

  • Tests the bursting strength of corrugated board – how much pressure is required to rupture the wall of a piece of corrugated material

  • Stronger box and better printable surface

  • The higher the number, the stronger the corrugated box

  • More expensive than ECT

  • Most common grades: 200#, 275# and 275#DW


Edge Crush Test (ECT)

  • Developed in the 1990′s, measures the stacking strength of corrugated board – how much top to bottom pressure a box can withstand before crushing

  • 32ECT boxes have become extremely popular since the Edge Crush Test was introduced, partly due to cost, and partly because stacking strength is a more meaningful measure of how a box will perform in the field

  • Most common: 32ECT, 44ECT and 48ECT

 

Mullen Test & ECT Liner Combinations

corrugated-boxes-101

 
Box Strength
Description
Box Liner Combination
32ECT Single Wall Box 35/23/35
200# Single Wall Box 42/23/42
44ECT Heavy Duty Single Wall Box 56/23/56
275# Heavy Duty Single Wall Box 69/23/69
48ECT Double Wall Box 35/23/35/23/35
275#DW Double Wall Box 42/23/42/23/42


Box Style

Boxes can be used to ship everything from apples to washing machines. By changing the design of a box, combining layers of corrugated or adding interior packaging, a corrugated box can be manufactured to efficiently ship and store almost any product.

Many standard box styles can be identified in three ways: by a descriptive name, by an acronym based on that name, or by an international code number. The numerical code system, known as the International Fiberboard Case Code, was developed by the European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers (FEFCO) in collaboration with the European Solid Board Organization (ESBO) to avoid confusion when communicating in different languages.

Below are some common box style categories and designs. Keep in mind there are many other standard styles from which to choose. In addition, corrugated boxes can be custom designed to meet the specific needs of any box user. A manufacturer's representative will have more information about additional box style options.

Slotted Boxes:
International Fiberboard
Case Code: 02 Series

boxes-101

0201
Regular Slotted Container
(RSC)

Telescope Boxes:
International Fiberboard
Case Code: 03 Series

boxes-101

0301
Full Telescope Design Style
Container (FTD)

Folders:
International Fiberboard
Case Code: 04 Series

boxes-101

0401
One Piece Folder
(OPF)

Rigid Boxes (Bliss Boxes):
International Fiberboard
Case Code: 06 Series

boxes-101

0601A
Bliss Style Container
with End Flaps

Self Erecting Boxes:
International Fiberboard
Case Code: 07 Series

boxes-101

0760
Self Erecting Six
Corner Tray

Interior Forms:
International Fiberboard
Case Code: 09 Series

boxes-101

0904
Tube

 

Corrugated Board Strength Charts

Single Wall Corrugated Board
Bursting Test Maximum Weight Limit Edge Crush Test
125# 20 lbs. 23 ECT
150# 35 lbs. 26 ECT
175# 50 lbs. 29 ECT
200# 65 lbs. 32 ECT
275# 95 lbs. 44 ECT
350# 120 lbs. 55 ECT
Double Wall Corrugated Board
Bursting Test Maximum Weight Limit Edge Crush Test
200# 80 lbs. 42 ECT
275# 100 lbs. 48 ECT
350# 120 lbs. 51 ECT
400# 140 lbs. 61 ECT
500# 160 lbs. 71 ECT
600# 180 lbs. 82 ECT

 

Call us
ABOUT1-2

CORRUGATED BOXES 101

What does corrugated mean? What are flutes, mullen tests, and ECTs?

Learn about the standard sizes, specs, and more of corrugated boxes. These are the basics that make your custom printed corrugated boxes so successful!

Learn More