The Carton Box Manufacturing Process Explained

Carton box manufacturing is a detailed and complex process, but in its most basic form, it involves just a few key steps. This article will go over the carton manufacturing process, explaining each step in detail. This will give you a better understanding of how carton boxes are made and what goes into the production process.

How are Carton Boxes Made?

The manufacturing of carton boxes involves a series of steps, starting with the sourcing of raw materials and ending with the shipping of the finished product. In between these carton making stages, the manufacturer must follow a number of important steps in order to create a high quality packaging box for your business. Here is a sequence of the steps.

1. Sourcing Carton Box Raw Material

The first step in the carton box manufacturing process is sourcing the raw materials. For a carton box, you will need to source paperboard. Depending on the required strength and other factors, paperboard is made from wood pulp, recycled paper, or both.

  • The carton box manufacturer must ensure sourced materials are high quality
  • Because different paperboard grades are available, the manufacturer must also decide which grade is best for the specific carton
  • From here, the process goes to the design and production stages

2. Carton Box Design Stage

This is where designers or engineers will create a design for your box – using carton box design software. The design will take into account the size and shape of the box, as well as the type of paper being used. It is also important to note that the design of the carton box must be created with both functionality and aesthetics in mind. Here is what happens:

  • Engineers design carton box
  • Carton box designs are sent to the customer for approval
  • Customer approves the design
  • Engineers proceed to the next stage

In some situations, the design of the carton box may be completed by the customer. In this case, the customer would simply provide their own drawings to the engineers, who would then create a prototype of the box based on the provided specifications. The manufacturer may also use existing designs to produce standard cartons boxes.

3. Carton Box Prototyping

In this carton box manufacturing step, engineers will create a prototype of the box. This is a three-dimensional model of the box. The prototyping stage is necessary to ensure that the design works as intended. The steps involved are:

  • Prototype is created from the approved design
  • Prototype is tested for feasibility and any necessary adjustments are made
  • Once the prototype is approved, the engineers can proceed to the next stage – creating the actual carton box

4. Carton Box Production

Here, the actual carton box production takes place. This stage of the process will vary depending on the size and complexity of the box, as well as the type of material being used. In general, however, the steps involved in this stage include:

Carton Box Cutting and Creasing

  • The paperboard stock is fed into the carton box making machine
  • The machine, using dies, cuts the paper to the desired size and shape
  • Carton box cutting involves using the use of sharp metal rules called dies
  • The dies cut out the box profile and any required perforations and windows
  • At the same time, the carton box blanks are creased
  • Carton creasing is the process used to create fold lines on the carton box
  • This is done by a carton box creaser, which uses rules with rounded ends to apply the creasing pressure
  • Embossing and debossing or hot foil stamping, if required, may also be done during this stage
  • A stripping unit will also remove excess carton material at the point of the carton making process

Carton Box Printing

  • The next step is to print any necessary graphics or text onto the carton blank.
  • These include pictures, logos, and other information.
  • Carton box printing can be done using a variety of techniques, including digital and offset printing.

Carton Box Folding and Gluing

  • Once the cardboard has been cut, creased and printed, it must be folded into the desired shape to enable gluing
  • Carton folding happens at the creased line
  • The final step is to glue and join the panels. This is usually done along the folding lines
  • The carton box gluing machine may also glue in various internal forms and other fitments as needed

Other Carton Box Making Steps

Depending on specific requirements for design and protection or usability needs, these processes may be added to the carton box manufacturing process.

  • Laminating: The process of laminating adds a thin layer of plastic or foil to the surface of the cardboard, which gives the box a glossy finish
  • Coating: A clear coating can be added to the surface of the box to protect it from damage
  • Windowing: if a carton box with window was manufactured, a windowing machine will apply the an extruded plastic film over it
  • Waxing: carton box is waxed using either the dry or wet waxing method. Wet waxed cartons attain a high glossy finish and are commonly used to package foods.

5. Carton Box Packing

The final stage in the carton box production line is packing. But the cartons must be inspected for defects first. Carton box defects may happen during the manufacturing process and affect product quality. So the cartons are carefully checked, tested, and the damaged cartons removed from the production line.

  • Once the cartons have been tested and inspected, they are packed flat. This makes them easy to transport or store
  • Carton box packing prepares the product for shipping to the customer
  • If not meant for immediate shipment, the boxes must be stored in a special way to prevent damage. This is usually done by placing them on a pallet
  • The pallet may be wrapped with stretch film or shrink-wrapped

6. Carton Box Shipping

The final step after manufacturing carton boxes is shipping them to the customer. This can be done in a number of ways such as via truck, train, ship, or airplane. The method used depends on the distance between the customer and the manufacturing facility.

The most important requirement when shipping carton boxes is to pack them securely so that they do not get damaged in transit.

Carton Box Raw Material

Carton box manufacturers usually purchase their paperboard from paper mills. Paper mills make paper from wood pulp which, in turn, is made by pulping wood chips or recycled paper.

Essentially, carton box is made from paperboard. Paperboard is a paper-based material that is used for packaging. It’s tougher than normal paper, thicker, and more durable.

The type of paperboard used in manufacturing carton boxes depends on the intended use of the box. For example, food packaging will require a different type of paperboard than packaging for electronics.

Carton box companies use 4 major types of paperboard to make the product: solid bleached sulfate, unbleached Kraft paper, coated recycled paperboard, and paper chipboard.

Solid Bleached Sulfate

This type of carton making paperboard is made from wood pulp that’s been bleached. It’s smooth on both sides and has a bright white appearance. Solid bleached sulfate is the most expensive type of paperboard and is used for high-quality packaging, such as food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical products.

Unbleached Kraft Paper

This carton box manufacturing material is made from wood pulp or virgin Kraft fiber that hasn’t been bleached. It has a brownish color and is less expensive than solid bleached sulfate. It’s usually clay-coated to introduce a white printing surface to it. Unbleached Kraft paper is often used for packaging products like cereals, pasta, and crackers.

Coated Recycled Paperboard

This carton box material is made from recycled paper that’s been coated with a thin layer of clay. It has a white printing surface and is less expensive than solid bleached sulfate or unbleached Kraft paper. Coated recycled paperboard is often used for packaging products like dry foods, beauty products, laundry soap, and detergent.

Paper Chipboard

Paper board is a carton manufacturing material made from recycled newsprint and other paper. It consists of multiple layers of paper that are glued together. This produces a thick paperboard that’s stiff and strong. Due to its sturdiness, chipboard is often used to make rigid cartons for packaging expensive and delicate items such as luxury products and electronics.


Carton box manufacturing is an important process in the world of packaging, given the widespread use of carton boxes today. As carton manufacturers continue to innovate, end users in the manufacturing and retail sectors can expect even better quality carton boxes in the future. That, in turn, will lead to even more efficient and effective packaging for products of all kinds.

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