Corrugated vs. Cardboard

Corrugated-BoxesCorrugated or Cardboard? What’s the difference, you ask? Well, to most people these two terms are one in the same, but to a packaging engineer these are two totally separate items. In fact, most packaging engineers and designers cringe when they hear the word cardboard used in the wrong context.

The majority of people tend to throw around the word cardboard for pretty much any type of paper packaging boxes substrate they come across. The truth is, most of the time they’re saying cardboard, but they really mean corrugated.

Corrugated material is easy to identify. It is made up of three layers of paper: an inside liner, an outside liner and fluting which runs in between. The material gets its name from the corrugated medium, which helps provide it’s strength. The most typical applications of corrugated are in shipping boxes, retail displays, pizza delivery boxes and even some retail packaging.

The term cardboard typically refers to a thick paper stock known as paperboard or folding carton material. Typical applications are cereal boxes and other smaller consumer goods packages.

So, the next time you want to impress some of your packaging engineer buddies, be sure to tell them how you were impressed with the corrugated candy bar display you saw at a store, or how you recycled the corrugated boxes you received from


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