Manufacturing boxes like band aids

I was wondering how do they make boxes and score them like band aid boxes. It isn’t something that I could really find in my materials and manufacturing books. Is it because its just really easy? Does anyone know of a video thats out there? I was also wondering if there are any limitations in creating boxes. Although it may just be a box, there may be many things that a student like me may not know any thing about how they create paper packaging. I was also wondering is it hard to create more organic or different shaped boxes that weren’t rectangular.

Thanks a lot!

Until someone a little more learned in packaging comes along (shouldn’t be too long…), I guess I’ll do.

My guess was that the perforations are created using some kind of die-cutting process where instead of a continuous edge (like a knife) an intermittent edge (like that on those cheap fine tooth combs) is pressed into the paper/cardboard.

A quick google search for “die cut perforation” pulled up, which does a better job of explaining it.

As far as more organic shapes, there is a reason that the organic packaging you see is molded. It’s much easier.

Paper and cardboard packaging is manufactured flat. From there it is die-cut into shape and folded into whatever. The problem with creating organic shapes (read: shapes with 3D curves) is that once a material is formed in a 2D shape (like flat paper stock), it is very difficult to form it into a 3D shape.

I suppose if you went far enough back in the supply chain (to the guys who actually create the cardboard), it is possible that you could pay to have it formed, not as a flat slab, but as whatever form you dictate. The downside there is that because everyone else in the world makes flat cardboard/paper, getting a custom form would likely be pretty expensive.

Thinking a little bit more now… I don’t know how you would get custom cardboard, as the core of the cardboard is an extrusion. Paper would probably be easier, but I would make sure that the organic shape is still structurally rigid so that it doesn’t buckle.

They say we throw away cell phones so frequently that they should be made from cardboard… I’d be interested in any methods you discover that accomodate organic shapes

Thanks so much for your reply! Well i found a nice link on how milk cartons are formed haha: How milk carton is made - material, manufacture, making, used, processing, dimensions, product, machine Also I think it is paperboard that I was thinking about, but didn’t know what it was called. I thought it would also be interesting to learn about it since it is a recyclable material. Thanks again.

There are a ton of considerations applied. It really depends on the distribution channel in which the carton will travel. If the carton is hand pack, you can get away with alot in terms of how the carton is designed. If the carton will be packed out via machine, you will encounter various challenges based on the machine manufacturor in which the carton runs on. I work for a fully integrated packaging company, so I face challenges from a multitude of directions. Even as a designer, I am challenged to have working knowledge of all aspects of the carton. Some include glue formulations for proper fiber tear, the effects of caliper reduction on handle strength, opening feature performance, how the carton interacts on the machine, etc…

The list can get pretty extensive. As for just manufacturing the cartons. When you’re designing, you have to consider blank size of the carton to meet proper feed up of rotary dies (increases profit margin), carton parts shouldn’t be too small where the pins on the dies can’t stripout (atleast a 1/4" for strip out areas, but larger the better), costing considerations like single knife/double knife options, etc. Sometimes the way you design a carton can affect it’s storage capabilities in humid environments (warpping), which can affect packout performance.

The skip cuts as mentioned above are minor compared to everything else. More challenging would be insuring the correct opening force on handles/opening features where nicks are applied.

Quite a bit of good info here. I thought I would through in my two cents and also give you some pics so you can see what the dies look like. All boxes, or cartons as most of us packaging guys call them, whether made from Paperboard, or Corrugated (aka cardboard) they are all cut with cutting dies. There are two types of cutting die, Rotary dies, and Flat dies. Rotary die do exactly that, they work on a cylinder that rotates and “punches” the carton out of the material. This allows for multiple dies to be added (normally two) which allows for speed and lowers cost. Flat dies work vertical and move up and down. I believe that there is normally only one to a machine (Boosted correct me if I am wrong).

Below you will see the dies. Believe it or not most of these are still made by hand. They are made up of a piece of plywood that has been fitted with knives and scoring bars. Where you see the red blocks, this is rubber much like the consistency of a pencil eraser. This rubber surrounds both sides of the cutting knives and it is there to eject the paper away from the knives after it has been cut. The exposed metal that you see are scoring bars. These are rounded, dull pieces of metal that are used to score the carton where it is intended to be folded they do NOT cut the board. These scores are nothing more than indentation in paper to break the fibers and allow it to move in the direction you want it to go.

Like Boosted mentioned doing a custom carton can be very expensive as there are limitations to what can run on existing equipment, but is also needed in certain situations. It also comes down to where the carton is going to be manufactured, what is going to go in it, what category the product is, What kind of occasion the product or package is used for, the list can go on and one. My suggestion is to hit up you local Barns and Noble and get yourself some packaging manufacturing books.

Hope this helped.

Yes, a bobst (flat die) is one die in the machine at a time. But a single die can have a multiple feedup like shown in the picture. There’s also what’s called a make-ready which is what the die is pressed againist. Alot of our converting plants have in house die shops which makes the flat dies. Most of the dies are made my waterjet, laser and bending machines. Where the hand part comes in is with the “fine” tuning of the die. Different durometer rubbers are used to perfect knicks and opening features, grinding nicks open, etc… The rotaries can be super expensive and are sourced from our vendors. You can also segment a rotoary as well to reduce cost and account for future changes in a carton design.

On another note, Justin did you have any involvement on this carton? It’s manufactured/designed by my company and we just won a PPC Packaging Award for it in 2009

On another note, Justin did you have any involvement on this carton? It’s manufactured/designed by my company and we just won a PPC Packaging Award for it in 2009

I had a small bit in that project. (3D work, some sketches, etc…) It was in process when came in and I was in a more junior role back then doing a lot of 3D rendering work. I did do quite a few renderings of it’s shelf presence. It was mostly managed by and designed by GP and one of the Packaging guys I work with. The carton looks great and has a great presence on shelf, but the product is not selling that well. I have however been involved in designing POP for it and designing seasonal solutions for the product.