January 29, 2008 By Steve Purwitsky
Many growers and retailers these days rely on high-quality graphics printed directly onto corrugated boxes to sell their products. Used effectively, eye-catching graphics showcase the products packaged within.
Many growers and retailers these days rely on high-quality graphics printed directly onto corrugated boxes to sell their products. Used effectively, eye-catching graphics showcase the products packaged within. So, it is not surprising that printing advertising messages directly onto corrugated boxes is becoming even more popular, as it’s a medium that lends itself to a wide range of printing options to support end-use requirements.
A popular option for high-volume packaging is the use of pre-printed linerboard. But growing in popularity is direct printing onto corrugated packages. Setup charges are minimal in comparison and there is a quicker turnaround since manufacturing steps – like applying a litho label – are eliminated. Silk screening directly on packaging is often used to print displays and to customize packaging for regional promotions.
But the “cover” of a book only tells part of the story. A corrugated box that looks good must also maintain a standard that will protect the product within. To this end, ongoing R&D programs continue to improve characteristics of the corrugated container, such as strength-to-weight ratios, printability, moisture barriers, and recyclability.
It is not surprising, then, that corrugated packaging designers at times use sophisticated computer-aided design (CAD) systems and computer-automated cutting tables to create corrugated containers for specific purposes where protection, strength and adaptability are key – all at competitive costs.
Innovations in flute design increase the number of structural designs available to packaging designers. Jumbo-flute, micro-flute, diagonal-flute, wave-flute (waves that go in multiple directions) and double-fluted corrugated are just some of the recent advances in flute design that offer structural and strength-to-weight ratio advantages over other packaging materials.
And because the fluting is denser, there is less ripple effect on the linerboard, making the packaging more receptive to high-quality, direct printing.
COLOURFUL CORRUGATED FOOTPRINT
One of the more recent developments in recent years has been the introduction of the Corrugated Common Footprint box (CCF) for the North American packaging industry.
This voluntary standard was specifically developed to meet the emerging trends in fresh produce/perishable food distribution by way of a modular packaging system for the growers and retailers.
These days, the CCF is commonplace in most retail chains and its use is being expanded to incorporate other industries. What is particularly noticeable is the amount of colourful advertising on the boxes that literally makes them eye-catching billboards for the products they carry!
The standard applies to corrugated containers used to ship produce and related commodities from the growing or initial packing location to the retail outlets. It establishes industry compatibility and provides a uniform platform for ongoing design creativity to satisfy individual customer needs in marketing and distribution.
For the retailer/distributor, the CCF decreases labour costs in the distribution centre and the retail store by reducing training and handling requirements. In addition, it facilitates distribution for global sourcing since the standard is compatible with the European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers’ (FEFCO) Common Footprint Standard for boxes produced in Europe.
And, for the consumer, it delivers consistently fresher, more attractively displayed commodities, while reducing the handling of product before it reaches the store.
For the growers/shippers, the CCF provides:
• Economical, low-cost, modular packaging solutions.
• Optimum cube utilization, ensured product protection through custom design.
• A variety of box designs and material constructions conforming to the CCF standard.
Over the years, corrugated has remained a leading packaging material but has now evolved into a key component in solving tomorrow’s packaging challenges with introductions like the CCF.
Corrugated manufacturers, too, have evolved. No longer can they be described as “simply box-makers.” Today, they are providers of total custom packaging solutions, working closely with their customers to map out packaging solutions that best fit usage requirements during every stage of the product cycle – from manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and merchandising, to end-use and recovery for recycling.
These days, corrugated box-makers have become much more involved at the retail level to ensure packaging will increase sales and take up less floor and shelf space.
The “ordinary” corrugated box deserves a closer look – it’s actually an extraordinary versatile packaging material, offering enhanced strength, high-end graphics, and materials reduction and recyclability. Corrugated boxes are well positioned to meet the packaging needs for years to come.
Steve Purwitsky is executive director of the Canadian Corrugated Case Association.
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