Q: What's the difference between burst strength and ECT for a corrugated box?
A: Burst strength is a measure of how much pressure it takes to push through the linerboard of a piece of corrugated board, and it is closely related to the tensile strength of the linerboard. Edge crush test (ECT) is a measure of how much pressure it takes to crush the corrugated board by pressing downward on it while it's standing on its edge. ECT is related to the overall stiffness of the linerboards and the corrugating medium that together make up a piece of corrugated board, and it was designed as a better indicator of a box's stacking strength. Corrugated shipping boxes are rated for burst strength or ECT, and the rating is part of the box manufacturer's certificate (BMC) stamped on the box.
Q: What's the difference between 200# and 32 ECT shipping boxes?
A: If you compare the box manufacturer's certificate (BMC) on a box made from 200# board with the BMC on a box made from 32 ECT board, you'll see the same gross weight limit: 65 pounds. However, 32 ECT board may be created with lighter-weight material that has been engineered to have crush resistance without necessarily having the tensile strength that gives 200# board its burst resistance. For this reason, 200# board is usually heavier than 32 ECT board, and 200# board boxes are thought to be better suited to the battering that small packages can receive during shipping.
UPS guidelines suggest that 200#-rated boxes can handle heavier loads (40 pounds) than 32-ECT-rated boxes (30 pounds).
Q: What is a flute in a corrugated box?
A: The waves or corrugations of the medium are called its flutes. Letters are used to designate flute size, with C-flute board being by far the most common material for corrugated shipping boxes. B-flute is a smaller flute size that is sometimes used when high compression strength is not required (for transporting canned goods, for example), while A-flute is a larger size that can be used for cushioning, especially in the form of single-face board. In double-wall and triple-wall corrugated board, corrugating mediums of different flute sizes are often combined in order to take advantage of their different benefits.
Q: How are the dimensions of a corrugated box normally expressed?
A: Box dimensions are given in this order: Length (the longest side of the opening) x Width (the shorter side of the opening) x Depth (the dimension perpendicular to the opening. Get more guidance on types of box by size.
Q: What are corrugated boxes made of?
A: Corrugated boxes are made of corrugated board, a composite material with paperboard layers that are themselves made of different materials. In single-wall corrugated board, the central corrugated layer (called the medium) is sandwiched between two pieces of linerboard. The medium is often made from what paper manufacturers call a semichemical stock, while the linerboard is typically made using the kraft process, which produces a stronger board. Both the medium and the linerboard can contain varying proportions of recycled content.
Q: What is an RSC box?
A: A regular slotted container or RSC is a corrugated box that has closure flaps that are all the same length—one-half as long as the box's width, which is the dimension of the shorter side of the opening. This is the most popular type of shipping box.
Q: What is an FOL box?
A: A full overlap slotted container (FOL) is similar to the standard shipping box (RSC), but it has longer flaps that have substantially more overlap when closed, creating a more stable, cushioned package. The flaps on an FOL are as long as the width of the box.
Q: What is the best way to stack boxes on a pallet?
A: There's no single best way to palletize boxes, because there's a tradeoff between stacking strength and stability. If the boxes are stacked in perfectly aligned columns, this maximizes their stacking strength—but an interlocking pattern is often preferred for stability, especially when loads are not stretch-wrapped or stabilized, according to Cartons, Crates and Corrugated Board: Handbook of Paper and Wood Packaging Technology (Twede and Selke).
Q: Apart from its composition, what factors can affect the stacking strength of a box?
A: According to the Handbook of Package Engineering, Third Edition (Hanlon, Kelsey and Forcinio), corrugated boxes lose stacking strength as relative humidity increases, and as the duration of the load lengthens. A box that is loaded for a year can lose half its stacking strength, for example..
Q: What is a standard size shipping box?
A: There is no exact requirement for the standard size shipping box. Looking at your own business and personal packages, you’re likely to see boxes with a wide range of shapes and sizes. You can find a box to meet nearly any shipping box need.
Q: How do I know what size box I need?
A: Measure your product to ensure you don’t pick a box that’s too small or too big, taking into account added space for padding. You may want to test multiple box sizes to find the right fit for your product. Also, be mindful of major U.S. shipping providers' guidelines so you don't pick a box that's outside of maximum box size requirements.
Q: What is the cheapest size box to ship?
A: The cheapest size box to ship varies by the shipping company and method you choose. Generally, the smaller and lighter weight boxes are the cheapest size box to ship. This is an important reason to test multiple sizes and various options once padding is added. Choosing the minimum required size could help your business save significantly on both box and shipping costs.
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