An Insight into the Origin of Corrugated Paper as Packaging Material

Corrugated paper boxes are commonly used for packaging these days. Durable, lightweight and affordable corrugated material is ideal for retail product packaging, furniture packaging, shipping container and Point-of-Purchase displays. What makes corrugated different from common paper boxes is its design. Common corrugated has two layers of smooth sheets (“liner”) joined with one curved layer of hard paper called “fluting”. But often the number of layers and thickness changes in line with requirement of product manufacturing companies.

Now, let’s look into the history of this highly popular packaging material – its origin and evolution as a modern day packaging material.

The root of corrugated paper or pleated paper dates back to 1856 when the first corrugated material was manufactured and patented in England. It was used for “sweatband lining in tall hats of Victorian Englishmen”.

And for the first time in 1871 unlined corrugated paper was used for packaging of glass chimneys.  Since then the corrugated material has evolved to fit the modern packaging requirement. Initially the use of corrugated paper was limited to glass items and ceramics packaging.

In 1874, to prevent the “fluting” from stretching a liner was added to it. And 20 years later, in 1894, corrugated material was cut and slotted to give shape to the first corrugated box to be used for shipments.

Finally, in the year 1903 corrugated paper was accepted as a valid shipping material. After that rubber printing plates were invented to allow better design of corrugated. Gradually in 1957 flexographic printing for corrugated boxes came into use replacing oil-based ink and letterpress.

In the 80s pre-printed corrugated linerboards became available and major development took place leading to more improved graphics and color on corrugated paper. In 1991 edge crush test was applied to reduce weight with lighter liners while ensuring durability for larger product packaging.

Since then more and more packaging manufacturer companies tend to embrace corrugated for producing customized boxes.  Custom corrugated boxes are not only economical but also appeal from environmental point of view as corrugated has been widely accepted as an eco-friendly material.