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Corrugated Cardboard: Strength in Layers
Strong, versatile, and lightweight, corrugated cardboard is the ideal packing container. Read on to learn more about how this thin paper product protects your belongings.
Corrugated cardboard can best be described by the old adage, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Individually, the components of corrugated cardboard—sometimes called corrugated fiberboard or simply corrugated board—are flimsy and easily torn. But together, they create an uncommonly strong material. Though varying in its construction, all corrugated material is composed of two main parts, each made of cellulose fibers from pine trees: flat sheets called “liners” and crimped, zig-zag sheets called “flutes.” In order of strength, the variations include:
- Single face: one flute glued to one liner
- Single wall: one flute glued between two liners
- Double wall: two flutes glued between three liners (like a club sandwich)
- Triple wall: three flutes glued between four liners
There are also variations in flute sizes, paper weights, and coatings that help make the material thinner or thicker, sturdier or lighter, and water-resistant. In any case, the end product arrives off the assembly line in long sheets that can then be cut and folded into boxes, packing materials, and other items.
Properties Beyond Packing
Because of its unique combination of durability, affordability, and light weight, corrugated cardboard is an invaluable tool for packing and shipping. The flutes absorb impacts yet leave lots of hollow space, while the multiple layers keep boxes from bursting or collapsing by distributing weight evenly. Corrugated cardboard is also a great insulator thanks to the air circulating between the flutes—a property used to great effect in pizza boxes or the cardboard sleeves on coffee cups that keep your hands from smelling like creamer. Entrepreneurs continue to find unique applications for corrugated cardboard; one company, for instance, shapes its durable leaves into full-sized living-room furniture.