When most people think of the material that most shipping boxes and containers are made of they think of cardboard. When people in the packaging business think about shipping boxes and containers they think of corrugated. So which is it? Are boxes that almost every business uses corrugated or cardboard and why does it even matter?
It matters because corrugated and cardboard are actually two different types of material even though the terms are used interchangeably at times. Let me explain the differences and why you would use one or the other.
Corrugated fiberboard is a material made of generally three separate sheets of paper called container board. Two liners on the outside with a rippled medium in the middle make up a corrugated fiberboard sheet. They are all glued together with a starchy glue during the manufacturing process. This is the material generally used in shipping containers and packaging boxes and displays. It is strong, durable, printable, and recyclable. Because of these attributes it is used for shipping and protecting products. It is also used for temporary or seasonal retail displays. It is often plain brown in color but also can be printed on or labeled.
Cardboard is broader and can include any heavy paper-pulp based board. It is generally a term not used by those in the industry because it does not define any specific material. Cardboard could mean cardstock like that used for playing cards or greeting cards or it could mean chipboard which is used for things like cereal boxes.
Even though the term Cardboard is not very specific it is very different from corrugated and its uses are different as well. Just remember that corrugated is for shipping boxes and cardboard is for cereal boxes. That is a simple definition, but it explains the main differences between the two materials!