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What Are the Different Types of Cardboard?

Updated February 21, 2017

Cereals and facial tissue, board games and spaghetti noodles, shoes and computers all come packaged in cardboard.

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According to Paramelt, makers of adhesives for cardboard manufacturers, there are three basic types of packaging cardboard: graphic cardboard, solid cardboard and corrugated cardboard. Transport Information Service, a cargo management service, also classifies non-packaging cardboard.

Graphic Cardboard

This type of cardboard is used for hardback book covers, three-ring binders and puzzles. It is made by pressing sheets of kraft paper together, with an adhesive between each layer, until the desired thickness is acquired. This cardboard is made to be sturdy and remain flat.

Carton Board

Also called solid cardboard, or boxboard, this board is thin and has a smooth coating on one side which is applied during the manufacturing process. This smooth side is for gluing printed paper or foil to the cardboard or it can be printed on in a printing press.

Carton board is used for boxes made to package items such as cosmetics, cereals and other food products, computer software and video games. It is also cut and folded for use in the packaging of children's toys (i.e., action figures), hair accessories and liquor bottles. This board is made to be water resistance and remain flat.

Corrugated Cardboard

Corrugated cardboard is made by pressing a piece of carton board in hot corrugators to create the s-curves and then sandwiching the pressed sheet between two pieces of carton board.

Canadian box maker, Instabox, says the differences in corrugated cardboard are based on "flute" size. A smaller s-curve results in a smaller flute and a lightweight box. The largest flute, used in big boxes, makes a sturdier box that can be stacked.

The strongest corrugated cardboard is triple wall corrugated cardboard, constructed with four sheets of carton board and three sheets of corrugated board. This cardboard is used to package large items such as refrigerators and treadmills.

Most boxes available to consumers are single wall while heavy-duty boxes are custom-made to order.

Non-packaging Cardboard

Transport Information Service lists three other types of cardboard: chromo carton board, cup board and drawing cardboard.

Chromo board is a thin board, coated on one or both sides and is white. It is often used in retail (i.e., inside men's shirts, under collars and in hosiery packaging). Cup board is used to produce cups and paper plates while drawing cardboard is smooth, thin, white paperboard packaged in single sheets or tablets for drawing purposes.

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