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How Are Cardboard Boxes Made?

At Direct Global Trading Boxes, we’re passionate about cardboard. It’s important stuff. Really important. Imagine how many cardboard boxes there are in your local department store. Consider how you might have moved house without cardboard boxes. Think about how your online shopping might arrive if we didn’t have cardboard boxes! You’ve probably never (ever!) wondered how cardboard boxes are made, but read on – it’s more interesting that you might think!

How Are Cardboard Boxes Made? Couple Moving House

Like many things, cardboard was a happy accident. It was first discovered in the 1870’s, by an American printer named Robert Gair. He was making paper bags in his shop, when he cut a paper box where he only meant to crease it. Through this fortuitous error, Gair realised that if he cut the box in a certain way, it could be flattened and re-opened, leading to the foldable cardboard boxes that we know and love!

Cardboard boxes are made from sheets of cardboard and cardboard is made from sheets of paper. One wavy sheet, called a flute, and two flat sheets which are called liners if you’re in the biz! The corrugated sheet (flute) is placed between the two flat liners to create a flute sandwich – you might have noticed this on your last Amazon delivery or when a midnight online shopping spree from Asos arrives at your door (or is it just us that do that?)! All three sheets are then glued together. Don’t worry, the glue is non-toxic, a mixture of water and starch, so it won’t contaminate the contents of the box.

Recycled Cardboard Boxes for House Moving

Next, the glued boxes are cut into the required shape and perforated along the folds. This is where they start to look less like cardboard sheets and more like a real-life box (even if it does look like someone ran over it with a steamroller!). They’re then cut using a machine called a trimmer which runs at a speed of around five miles and hour and cuts approximately ninety boxes per minute. That’s a whopping 5,400 every hour! Being mindful of the environment, any trimmings are collected and sent back to the paper factory so that they can be recycled again and again. Fun fact: cardboard can be recycled up to six times! We think that’s pretty amazing!

Recycling Sustainable Responsibly Sourced Cardboard Boxes

Now comes the fun part: paint! Boxes are painted to give them their unique colours and prints. The paint is mixed in a pail using a precise blend of inks – this must be an extremely accurate process, so it’s done using a computer to ensure an exact colour match every single time. Generally, one pail of paint holds just over three stone of printing ink which is enough to cover approximately 2000 boxes. Each colour is applied individually so that the colours don’t run together and the paint is water based to make sure it dries almost instantly. Who knew?

Coloured Paint with Paintbrush

Once painted, the boxes are stacked and sorted via a machine and they’re ready to be sent on their way. So, that’s the birth of a box ladies and gents! Raise them how you see fit, but just be sure to tape over the join twice!