A Definitive Guide to the Folding Carton

The folding carton box is the most used type of carton today. Chances are if you’ve ever bought anything that came in a box, it was probably a folding carton. This post is your guide to all things folding cartons. We’ll answer questions like: What are folding cartons? How are folding cartons made? And more!

What are Folding Cartons?

Folding carton boxes have been around since the 1800s when the first version of the box was made. Since then, the boxes have evolved and are now made using different materials. They also come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

However, despite the long history of folding cartons, many people today still don’t know what they are, and often confuse them with other types of packaging like corrugated boxes or chipboard boxes.

So, to clear things up, we’ll start by looking at the folding carton box definition and design features.

Folding Carton Definition

Folding cartons are paperboard boxes that can be erected by folding them without cracking or breaking. If you’re wondering what it is, paperboard is a type of stiff paper made from wood pulp or recycled paper, sometimes a mix of both.

Folding cartons derive their name from the fact that they are shipped and stored flat, and then “folded” into shape when they are ready to be used.

Folding cartons package everything from food and beverages to cosmetics and electronics. Carton manufactures also make them in a broad variety of styles, including customized designs depending on the product owner’s requirements.

Folding Carton Design

Although folding carton styles vary, the general layout does not. The standard folding carton will have these two main parts; panels and flaps. The panels are the larger sections of the carton and include front, back, and side panels. The panels are where graphics and product information are printed.

The carton flaps are smaller panels located at the top and bottom of the box. These help to close and seal the box. A folding carton may also be provided with tabs.

Apart from the normal profile, a folding carton box design, depending on certain preferences, may be or may include the following:

  • Made of square and sometimes rectangular panels
  • A hexagonal, triangular, and other shapes
  • Feature carry handles or display windows
  • Be manufactured with a plastic pourer
  • Use internal platforms, dividers, or other fitments

Folding Cartons Manufacturing

Folding cartons are made from paperboard, as seen earlier, that is printed with the desired graphics (or it may be plain) and then cut to size. The paperboard is then scored, folded, and glued together to create the finished box.

Folding cartons can be produced from a variety of different materials, including recycled paperboard, biodegradable paperboard, and even metal foil stamped paperboard.

The folding carton manufacturing process involves these major steps:

1. The paperboard stock is fed into the folding carton machine. The machine cuts the paperboard to size

2. The cut paperboard, known as carton box blank, is then scored and printed with the desired graphics. A folding carton printing machine is usually a digital, Lithography or flexography type.

3. Depending on specific requirement, the paperboard may be laminated, impregnated with wax, coated, or stamped with metal foil. If required, other features, such as window cutouts, may be made

4. The printed paperboard is then stripped to remove any waste material. At this stage, the cartons may be shipped to the customer or they may go to the gluing stage

5. The folding carton gluing machine applies adhesive (hot or cold) to the required locations. Finally, the cartons pass through the quality control department before being packed for shipping or storage.

Folding Carton Packaging

Folding carton box packaging drives the ecommerce sector today. According to a research carried out by Transparency Market Research, the global folding carton market is expected to be worth $ 105 billion by 2031.

This growth is being driven by the ever-increasing popularity of online shopping, as well as the need for better and more efficient packaging solutions that can meet the challenges posed by ecommerce. Folding carton packaging is popular for a number of reasons:

  • Lightweight nature – Folding cartons are much lighter than their rigid counterparts, which makes them ideal for ecommerce applications where shipping costs are a major concern
  • Easy to assemble – Folding cartons are extremely easy to assemble, which reduces packaging time and cost.
  • Customizability – Folding carton packaging can be customized to fit any product size and shape.
  • Strength and durability – Folding cartons are strong and durable, which protects the contents from damage during shipping and handling.
  • Versatility – you can use folding carton packaging for almost any type of retail product from wet foods to shoes and electronics.
  • Eco-friendly – the paperboard used to make carton boxes is manufactured using biodegradable and recyclable material. This makes cartons an eco-friendly packaging product.
  • Cost effective – not only is the folding carton box inexpensive to make, but is also less costly to ship and store than many other packaging products of similar benefits.

Folding Carton vs Corrugated Boxes

Folding Carton vs Corrugated Boxes

What is the difference between folding carton and corrugated boxes? While both types of boxes are used by businesses and different organizations to package or store and ship items, there are some key distinctions between them. Here’s a brief overview of each type of these differences:

  • Folding cartons are made from paperboard, which is a stiff paper made from wood pulp or recycled paper. Corrugated boxes, on the other hand, are made from corrugated/fluted board sandwiched between two layers of linerboard
  • Some cartons use a fluted construction. However, the flute in carton boxes, when used, is a smaller type than that of corrugated boxes.
  • Folding carton box packaging mostly are typically for lighter items, such as food, cosmetics, and electronics. Corrugated boxes, on the other hand, are often used for packaging heavier items, such as appliances, furniture, and books.

Folding cartons are usually shipped and stored flat, and then “folded” into shape when they are ready to be used. This design makes them cost-effective to ship or store, as well as easier to use than corrugated boxes.

Folding Carton Terminology

Folding cartons may be the packaging of choice for your product, but understanding all the jargon associated with them can be difficult, given the many different options and styles available. Here is a folding carton terminology list to help you get started:

1. Folding carton die lines – The die lines of a folding carton indicate, on a carton template, the cut, fold, and crease lines as well as bleed lines and other regions.

2. Folding carton adhesive – Adhesive is used to bond the different panels of a folding carton together.

3. Folding carton blank – The carton blank is a flat, unfolded piece of paperboard that will be die-cut and printed to create a folding carton.

4. Folding carton micro-flute – Micro flute in carton is a type of fluting that is generally thinner and more flexible than standard fluting.

5. Folding carton score – A score is a line that is scored into a folding carton blank to make it easier to fold.

6. Folding carton template – folding carton templates are two-dimensional drawing of a three-dimensional object. They are used to create a folding carton blank.

7. Folding carton window film – A window is a die-cut opening in a folding carton that allows the product to be seen. Window film is used to cover the window and protect the product.

8. Grain direction of folding carton: The grain direction refers to the way the fibers in paperboard are aligned. The grain can run either parallel or perpendicular to the edge of the paperboard.


The folding carton box is a versatile type of retail packaging and shipping box. Lightweight and easy to assemble, these boxes are commonly used for packaging consumer products such as food, cosmetics, and electronics. Folding boxes are also used for retail packaging, such as gift boxes and point-of-purchase displays. In other words, the applications of the folding carton are quite vast!

Table of Contents
Contact Us

Get In Touch

Fill in the form below and our team will be happy to assist you