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Corrugated packaging: 5 steps towards the perfect packaging solution for your product

The perfect corrugated packaging protects your product during transport, and is further optimally stackable on pallets, produced sustainably, and 100% recyclable. Depending on the application, it also supports your brand values. Therefore, numerous criteria must be considered. In this blog post, we will walk you through all the steps you need to start developing the ideal packaging solution.
Corrugated packaging

1. Corrugated packaging: where to start? 

Everything starts with the product that you want to pack:
  • How much does it weigh including primary packaging? What material is the primary packaging made of? In some cases, your goods can be packed directly in the corrugated box, i.e. the primary packaging coincides with the secondary packaging. 
  • What are the dimensions of the primary packaging? How many primary packages should be packed in the corrugated box?
  • What constraints need to be considered when stacking pallets of finished products in your warehouse?
  • What does your downstream supply chain look like: long-distance transport, transport in humid conditions, etc.?
Based on your answers, we determine the quality of the packaging you need and choose the perfect configuration. What do you need to know about this? In the corrugated cardboard sector, the following paper types can be distinguished:
  • The fluting: the inner layer of the cardboard which is used to produce the required flutes. These flutes primarily determine the strength of the box.
  • The liner: the outer and inner layers of the cardboard which will also determine the box’s appearance.  
There are various possible grammages and flute types. The grammage expresses the thickness of the cardboard. The higher the grammage, the stronger the cardboard. A paper type with a high grammage will therefore weigh more and in most cases offer better protection, but it will often also carry a higher price tag because of the higher quantity of raw materials.

The flute type determines the thickness of the corrugated cardboard. The thinnest cardboard types have a single flute and their name includes one letter. Compound cardboard types have a double flute consisting of two single flutes; in principle, any combination of the following types is possible: 
  • F flute: 0.7 mm
  • O flute: 1.7 mm
  • E flute: 1.15 mm
  • B flute: 2.5 mm
  • C flute: 3.5 mm
Not only the paper type, but also the flute type will therefore determine the characteristics of your packaging. The print quality will also depend on the chosen flute. A box with a finer flute is better printable on the outside.

2. The right box for every product

Cardboard boxes come in all shapes and sizes. One may have four closing flaps to be sealed by taping, another may have a lid and handles, while yet another one may have convenient inserts. Our professionals listen to your needs  in order to select the perfect design.

Virtually all designs correspond to an international code developed by FEFCO, the European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers. The codes consist of at least four digits and relate to the style or design of the box. Code 0201, for example, stands for the American folding box – also known as regular slotted container (RSC), the most well-known of all cardboard packaging.  

The basic four-digit code can be extended to accommodate additional details, variations or a combination of styles. The American box code, for example, can be extended to 0201-03, where 03 indicates a different version of the basic box. 
There is already a wide range of FEFCO standards that are used by cardboard producers throughout Europe. However, FEFCO keeps re-evaluating and supplementing the codes to keep up with the rapidly innovating sector. 

3. The best dimensions for cost optimisation

The FEFCO standards define the form of the box, but not its dimensions. This is where our packaging experts step in. Together with you, they will look for the perfect solution for protecting your goods, optimising your packaging process, and making your logistics chain more sustainable.

The inside dimensions indicate the volume available for the primary product. Next, we note down length x width x height, expressed in millimetres. The length is always greater than or equal to the width. The outside dimensions indicate the volume available for the packaging on the pallet and possibly also the space taken up by the shelf-ready packaging on the store shelf. Finally, we also determine the flat size, which indicates the amount of corrugated cardboard that is needed to produce the box. The larger the format, the higher the price tag of the packaging.  

4. The right technique for your printing needs

After the previous technical steps, it is now time for the most enjoyable step of all: your personal print! Your logo, slogan, image, or graphic design must make your packaging a visual treat. However, also be sure to consider technical product information, barcodes or QR codes. You should therefore devote sufficient attention to this stage.   
The print technique depends on the number of colours in your design and the cardboard type. Three common techniques can be distinguished:

  • Flexo printing supports all colour designs with four different basic colours (CMYK), possibly with two extra pantone colours, and possibly finished with a varnish. The plates are flexible, so that the machine can neatly print on the corrugated surface. It is still the most commonly used and most cost-effective print technique, especially for large print runs.
  • Digital printing is booming because it is the most flexible option, certainly for print runs below 2000 m2. The inks are more expensive, but the print can easily be customised. Ideal for startup business sectors, smaller runs or seasonal packaging designs.
  • Offset printing provides excellent print quality. However, the plates used are hard rather than flexible, so it is not suitable for all materials. Our experts will advise you in detail about the options. 

5. Optimal palletisation and storage of your order 

Our sites are equipped with different machines so that the minimum order quantity varies strongly, but on average it is around 2000 m2. For smaller runs, for example, you could contact our display division or one of our specific sheet plants  in the Benelux, France and Norway. Our experts will be happy to provide you with further details.

How we will palletise and deliver your order depends on your logistic processes. Do you have sufficient space to store the goods or do you opt for storing them at one of our numerous warehouses? Do you prefer to work on a make-to-stock or on a make-to-order basis? Based on your desires, we also determine the pallet type, the stacking method and the type of strapping – possibly in combination with film - to keep everything neatly in place and sealed, where appropriate, as well as top protection of the pallet.

Looking for a personal contact?

Once we have the above data, we can immediately start working on your project. Needless to say, the VPK team will be pleased to provide you with personal advice and answers to all your questions.
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