According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, cardboard is made of cellulose or wood fiber and is similar to paper, but thicker. Corrugated cardboard is made up of a fluted piece of heavy paper glued between two heavier pieces of paper. Cardboard is a durable and sustainable material, and can be customized to meet the needs of nearly everyone.
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People use several types of cardboard. Many food products are packaged in cardboard containers that are not corrugated. This cardboard is simply one piece of heavy paper folded into the shape of a box. Corrugated cardboard boxes can have multiple layers of fluting and cardboard. Single wall cardboard is the most common form and is one piece of fluted paper sandwiched between two cardboard pieces. Double wall cardboard has two layers of fluting between three layers of cardboard and triple wall cardboard has three layers of fluting between four layers of cardboard.
Cardboard is known for its durability. The wood fibers that make up cardboard are strong and resilient. Cardboard is puncture resistant and does not tear easily. The arched design of the interior fluting lends durability to the cardboard as well. The fluting is lined up vertically, so the interior paper forms columns that are able to support a great deal of weight.
Corrugated cardboard has insulating properties due to the fluting design of its interior. According to Teachers Domain, when force is applied to an arch, it transfers along the curve of the arch to the base. Therefore, the arched flutes allow the cardboard to tolerate more external force. The flutes also trap air between the two layers of cardboard, extending the amount of time needed to transfer heat energy from the exterior of the box to the interior.
Since cardboard is made up of wood fibers, it is recyclable and sustainable. According to the Corrugated Packaging Alliance, the average corrugated box is made with 43 percent recycled fiber. Cardboard is also the most recycled material, and nearly all of the recycled cardboard is made into new cardboard products. Cardboard is sustainable because the raw material comes from trees, a renewable resource. Ninety-three percent of all corrugated boxes are made with raw material supplied by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, an organization that supports forest management.
Cardboard is easily customized to fit the needs of the end consumer. Cereal boxes are not corrugated, while packing boxes are. Cardboard can also be cut and folded to make many different sized and shaped boxes or displays. The paper material is easily printed with logos, warnings and other information. It can be treated to be flame retardant or to control static electricity. Cardboard boxes are often custom-made to fit shipping requirements or available shelf space.