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Thinking Outside the Box: The History of Cardboard Boxes & E-commerce

We cannot really imagine online shopping without cardboard boxes. It is as if the be all and end all of all sorts of online purchases. Even if you opt out pizza boxes, Chinese takeaway boxes or shoe boxes, one thing that you can never forget is a cardboard shipping box. Children make cut-outs from them, and we adults use them for storage purposes.

A simple cardboard box like this has changed the whole E-commerce scene. The shipping box needs to be light for the ease of transportation, yet be strong and sturdy enough to protect the contents from perpetual damages, because as we know boxes during shipment are roughly-handled.

Now, that we got the introduction of cardboard boxes, let’s find out how this popular packaging came into existence.

All you need to know about the history of cardboard boxes

The history of cardboard boxes goes all the way back to the invention of paper in ancient China. A man from the Eastern Han Dynasty, Cai Lun, developed a pulping process that is still followed till date. The pulping is made by mixing fragments of tree bark, cloth, hemp and plant fibres with water. Papermaking, which started in China, later travelled to Japan in the East, and the Islamic countries in the west, and finally all the way to Europe.

In the early 1800s, plain paperboard boxes similar to the breakfast cereal ones, emerged in England. In 1856, Edward Healey and Edward Allen developed corrugated paper in England, lining men’s hats that provided stability and warmth. Later, in 1871 in the United States, Albert Jones used the concept of Healey and Allen’s corrugated paper to create a type of cardboard that worked well to protect the glassware during shipping.

Few years later, in 1874, Oliver Long improved the design made by Jones and put liner sheets on both sides of corrugated board. This was the closest model to the modern cardboard box.

But was it the final step of evolution of cardboard boxes? No, not yet! In 1879, a German chemist Carl F. Dahl introduced the Kraft process and produced a paper that is closer in composition to the cardboard boxes we see today. This paper had high elasticity but was resistant to tearing, and was created by pulping, similar to that of Cai Lun’s method. He used wood chips for pulping which gave it the iconic brown colours, that we usually see in cardboards, packaging boxes, lunch bags and so on.

Much late in 1895, the first, modern, cardboard box was manufactured in the United States. This modern packaging box was made from Kraft paper and corrugated cardboard using the method of Carl F. Dahl. Compared to wooden crates and pallets, these corrugated cardboard boxes were cheap to produce and lightweight.

Types of boxes that are found  

We all are aware about the versatility of the cardboard boxes. Be it double-walled cardboard boxes or single, each of these has a role to play. Let’s find out how.

Shipping Boxes

The ideal shipping box should be durable as well as economical. First of all, it needs to give proper protection to the product, because as aforementioned, shipping processes is usually turbulent. While Kraft paper is used as the base of these boxes, corrugated construction is added for added durability. And thus, modern shipping boxes  and packaging materials are ideal for E-commerce sales.

A few options of shipping boxes that you would like to know.

Standard “Regular Slotted Container” Corrugated Boxes

The most common shipping box, regular slotted container or RSC, as it is commonly known have flaps that meet in the middle that help to seal the package easily. RSCs have corrugated walls that provides additional strength. Doubly corrugated boxes are also found for heavy-duty durability.

Tuck Top Corrugated Mailing Boxes

This box is an industry favourite because of its easy-closing lids, which feature a flap that extends forward and allow the box to seal itself. Sometimes, tab lock boxes are also available for added security.

Mailing Tubes

Mailing tubes are a great option when you need to ship unwieldy artwork. The structure of the tube is formed by spiral chipboard that provides high-quality, durable protection for posters and prints.

Die-Cut Boxes

Is your product of an odd size it not fitting in the regular boxes available at the market? Then die-cut boxes should be your option. With these customised folding patterns can accommodate products of varying size and number.

Coloured Boxes

To add that personal touch to your shipping boxes, use coloured mailing boxes.

If you are looking to buy cardboard boxes, then you should definitely browse through Wellpack Europe who have a range of cardboard boxes on offer as per your needs.

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