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Askthe Expert: Corrugated Boxes

The many acronyms of corrugated boxes: There are many acronyms that are used when discussing corrugated boxes: RSC, HSC, FOL, corrugated sleeves, 5 Panel Folder, Telescopic and Die Cut. When I first started in the wide world of packaging, I could not tell these apart. So we thought we would dedicate some time to explaining the differences to help others identify the type of corrugated box they are looking for.

RSC: Regular Slotted Container. These are your standard corrugated boxes with four flaps on the top and the bottom that meet neatly in the center. These are the most common and economical corrugated box to manufacturer.

FOL: Full Over Lapping Container. These are just like your standard RSC’ s with one slight difference. The longer flaps on either side of the corrugated box fully overlap. This gives the corrugated carton extra strength when stacked on its side. It also gives this carton increased resistance to rough handling.

HSC: Half Slotted Container. This style is similar to the RSC except it only has one set of flaps on the bottom. This makes for easy loading. HSC’ s can also be used with a cover allowing for repeated access to the products within without having to seal and open a box with tape or other adhesive.

5PF: 5 Panel Folder. This style is unique to itself. This corrugated box has 5 panels that you can fold around the product you are encasing. This style is good for long and narrow products. It has extra protection on the ends with the overlapping flaps also giving it additional stacking strength.

Telescopic Cartons: Telescopic or telescoping boxes are very useful when you are packaging items with varying height. This is basically two trays that fit into each other. You place your product in one open top tray. You then can place the other open top tray on top of the product. The height of the trays can overlap each other or come to meet in the center depending on the application. These are also referred to as teletop and telebottom cartons.

Die Cut Corrugated Cartons are a little trickier to define. These can be a combination of attributes from the different types listed above. They can be a RSC with hand holes cut into the panels. They can also be a mailer type corrugated box with an outside tuck. (For more information on outside tuck, please refer to our information regarding different types of corrugated mailers. Since Die Cut Corrugated Boxes are typically always a custom product they can be fit to meet your specific packaging requirements if a stock item is not applicable.

Measuring a Corrugated Box: Measurements for a corrugated box are always taken as inside dimensions. Industry standard suggests that when identifying interior dimensions they are listed as Length X Width X Depth. The length of the corrugated box is usually the larger dimension of the opening. The depth can also be referred to as the height of the carton. Always make sure when determining what size you corrugated carton you need, that you leave room for any void fill materials you may want to include to protect your product.

The difference between corrugated boxes and chipboard boxes: Chipboard, also known as paperboard, is widely used for lighter applications. Chipboard is typically used to produce gift boxes, apparel boxes, or stationary boxes. Chipboard is generally produced in the same manner as paper but results in a thicker product. Although chipboard boxes are strong enough to wrap presents or to hold your business cards, we do not suggest shipping in a chipboard box without any additional protection. That is where corrugated boxes come in. A corrugated box is rigid enough to stand up against the weight of shipping. Corrugated is made from layers of paper laminated together. There is a liner, a corrugated medium, and another liner in single wall. (For more information regarding single wall or other flute combinations please refer to The Different Types of Corrugated Cardboard.)

The different types of Corrugated Cardboard: Corrugated boxes are constructed by cutting and connecting corrugated fiberboard to the desired style and size. It is important to understand the combination of fiberboard in order to use the material that will be strong enough for your application. Corrugated fiberboard is a piece of fluted corrugated sheet set between two flat corrugated liners. This creates that board that is used to construct corrugated boxes.

The Flutes: There are several different flutes manufacturers work with: A, B, C, E, F. Although A is the largest flute and F is the smallest, the order actually refers to the order in which the flutes were developed, A as being the first. Below is a table showing the different attributes of each flute.

  Flutes per Linear Foot Flute Thickness (in)
A Flute 33 +/- 3 3/16
B Flute 47 +/- 3 1/8
C Flute 39 +/- 3 5/32
E Flute 90 +/- 4 1/16
F Flute 128 +/- 4 1/32

The most common flute is the C flute which you will find in most corrugated boxes. Flutes can also be combined in different pairings to create stronger corrugated box.

A corrugated box with only one flute in between two linerboards is widely known as a single wall corrugated box. Double wall and triple wall refer to two or three layers of flutes making the corrugated stronger. Choosing the flute combination that is right for your project is not a straightforward science as there are many different combinations.

Not only do flute combinations determine the strength of the box, but also the strength of the layers that sit on either side of the flutes. There is a long standing debate over whether Edge Crush Test (ECT) or Bursting Test (Mullen) is a better gauge of strength. There is no finite answer to this question however, these equate to each other without much argument. Below is a table depicting the ECT and Mullen equivalents and the ideal maximum weight for each measurement.

  Bursting Test Edge Crush Test Maximum Weight of Box
Single Wall 125 23 20
150 26 35
175 29 50
200 32 65
250 40 80
275 44 95
Double Wall 200 42 80
275 48 100
350 51 120
450 61 140
620 82 180
620 82 180
Triple Wall 700 67 240
900 80 260
100 90 280
1300 112 300

For help determining the right combination, please contact us directly. We will help you find the right combination for your application.

The different types of corrugated mailers: Corrugated mailers are very strong, yet light allowing you to save on shipping costs. Mailers can be folded together in seconds eliminating the need for tape, glue, or any adhesive. Corrugated mailers are shipped flat to save space, crush resistant, and the edges are cut to prevent paper cuts. Corrugated mailers are perfect for shipping or storing literature and small or fragile items. Corrugated mailers come in many different styles for fit your application. Literature mailers are manufactured to fit your most common paper sizes. These come in an outside or inside tuck depending on the application. Corrugated Bookfolds have one to three scores allowing you to “ fold” the mailer around your product at the needed height for a snug fit. Ballot Boxes are perfect if you need to take suggestions, hold a raffle, or take votes. Corrugated Carrying Cases make are great if you need to assemble sales or promotional kits. Garment Mailers are one piece mailers ideal for packing bulky clothing such as jackets and coats.