Paperboard Packaging design process

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Best designs are a result of:

A: personal creativity plus-Knowledge and understanding of packaging materials, including:

1: Structural properties

2: Graphic capabilities

3: Converting process

4: Customer packaging systems

5: Marketing objectives

6: Distribution requirements

7: Retail outlet expectations

8: Needs and desires of end user

9: How end user will use the product

B: Many people may contribute to the design


Overall, the design must provide:

1: Containment of product

2: Protection of product

3: Unitization of ease in handing through distribution

4: Prevention of product spoilage

5: Tamper evidence

6: Consumer convenience

7: Brand identification

8: Communications for:

     Instructions for product use

     Coding for quality assurance, expiration dates

     Dietary and nutritional information


Before beginning consider three important areas:

1: Converting or package manufacturing issues

2: Customer issues for filling and sealing

3: Consumer issues for convenience and performance


Converting issues:

A: Design will easily move through converting plant

B: Artwork can be reproduced to customer’s satisfaction

C: Thickness of paperboard with compensation for creases and tucks

D: Waste and spoilage are minimal

E: Package’s life cycle is understood and will meet customer’s expectations.


Customer issues:

A: Receiving, Storage and handling before packing

B: Product characteristics-Shape of product that will fill the carton

C: Packaging line performance

1: feed, form, fill and close requirements. (Hand or automated machinery)

2: Best locking design

3: Packaging line speed

4: Packaging line environment (wet, cold, etc)

D: Customer’s handling, warehousing, distribution demands

1: Proper package size for efficient handling on 48×40 pallets

2: Abuse that carton will be subjected to before and after reaching consumer

E: Retail outlet needs

     1: Receiving and storage

     2: Shelf facings

   3: Display environment (wet, cold, dry, etc)

F: Meeting all marketing objectives

G: Is there a less expensive design that will serve the purpose


Consumer issues

A: Product protection- Tamper evident

B: Convenience features

     1: Product features

     2: Easy open/ Reclosable features

     3: Convenient home storage

     4: Easy of use by consumer

C: Meeting practical and psychological consumer expectations

D: Regulatory and information copy required for consumer to make an informed purchase

E: Enhancing and promoting the quality and key features of the product

F: Post-consumer use and ease of disposal

G: Environmental considerations, real and perceived


Other design considerations

Federal, State and Local government regulation and guidelines

A: Food and Drug Administration (FDA) health and nutritional claims

B: Nutritional Labeling Education Act (NLEA)

C: Tamper Evident Packaging

D: Federal Trade Commission (FTC) environmental and advertising claims

E: Fair Packaging and Labeling Art (FPLA)

F: National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM)

G: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

H: Department of Commerce – National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

I: National trade and industry associations

J: International Government organizations


Package design process involves:

Structural design

Graphic design

Mechanical Packaging Coordination

All three functions should be fully involved with each other to create the “perfect package”


Grain direction of paperboard is important

A: printing

B: automated gluing

C: Reduce bulge

D: reduce shrinkage

Several methods to determine grain direction

A: rely on pallet data sheet

B: cut a sample sheet, wet the sheet and allow drying, as the sheet dries it will curl with the grain of the sheet in long direction of the curl

C: Take two sample sheets, tear one in half from top to bottom, take a second sheet and tear it from side to side, the tear that is the straightest will be in the grain direction or MD, the other tear will be ragged and may run in any direction.

D: Tear two samples, one top to bottom, the other left to right, the direction with the least resistance is the grain direction



CAD workstations and plotter sample makers are used in package design


PPC’s ideas and innovation handbook offers over 160 pages with about 250 basic folding carton designs and variations, Function and creativity have created many more.


CAD systems permit “nesting” to minimize scrap


CAD systems networked to other design functions, including:

Graphic design

Art boards

Dimensional drawings

Perspective views

Exploded component views

Glue sequencing

Production die programs

Pre-production printed samples

Cost estimating

Cost estimating




The workflow of a carton design includes:

Structural design layout

Graphic design

Transfer graphic design to contact film

Place contact film on paperboard sample

Present 3-D package to customer


Mechanical Packaging Coordination should involve:


Packaging line equipment manufacturer

Customer’s packaging and engineer

Packing lines can be simple off-the-shelf or custom made

Packing lines can be slow intermittent motion packing 30 cartons per minute to automated high-speed packing over 400 per minute.

Cost estimates can now be made


After approval by customer, specifications are written, and generally include:

A: Product information: name, weight, size, etc

B: Package data: style, size, special features

C: Material substrate data: paperboard type, caliper, window film type and gauge

D: Graphic design data: finished art including graphics, type, mandatory and legal copy

E: Color and coating data: number of colors, types of inks or coating, color matching information

F: Printing process: type of process- litho, gravure, flexo or a combination

G: Special features: details relating to windowing, embossing, hot stamping, etc

H: Quantity: desired volume with under/over run parameters

I: Packaging line date: type of equipment, line speeds, etc

J: Shipping and receiving: specifications as to how the converter should pack, mark and palletize the empty packages for shipment, customer receiving, warehousing and distribution data.

K: Other additional data specific to this package.



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