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Industrial Packaging Supplies: The History, Efficiency, And Versatility Of Corrugated Shipping Boxes

By Expert Author: Jennine Stalder

The ever-reliable corrugated boxes (aka cartons or cardboard boxes) are ordinary
everyday industrial packaging supplies that have been around for quite a while, but they do have an interesting story behind them.

First invented by the Chinese in the 1600s, cardboard evolved into full cardboard boxes which were first introduced in England in 1817. The early cardboard box was made from fairly simple paperboard without the characteristic corrugation of today, and was widely popularized by breakfast cereal manufacturer Kellogg’s in the mid-1800s.

After corrugated paper was patented in 1856, American inventor Robert Gair produced the first fully efficient cardboard box in 1879. Gair’s design allowed the box to safely cushion anything placed inside, and became widely used in the U.S. by 1895. Gair’s original design underwent major tweaking through the years to improve efficiency. By the time cardboard boxes were mass-produced, the older, costlier wooden crates weren’t considered major packaging solutions anymore.

Cardboard’s durable, lightweight, and recyclable properties made it not only one of the most trusted packaging supplies, but also gave it unparalleled versatility. It is because of this that many consider cardboard as the “perfect” utilitarian material; almost 95 percent of all products shipped in the U.S. use cardboard boxes, as a testament to its efficiency as a product. Interestingly, nearly three-fourths of all cardboard boxes in the U.S. are recycled; a huge contributor of which are grocery stores, which recycle 6 million tons annually.

Corrugated cardboard’s versatility goes beyond its environment-friendly properties. By the late 20th century, designers began experimenting with cardboard as a form of artistic medium. Its potential for high-end furniture design was introduced by architect Frank Gehry in 1972. Gehry’s chairs and tables were made of about 60 cardboard layers, fastened tightly using hidden screws and sporting fiberboard edges. His main objective is to show that lowly materials, when played with by expert hands, can be turned into fully functional art pieces.

The changing times has brought with it more uses for the cardboard box; some people even construct fully functional vehicles out of recycled cardboard. One such product is the cardboard bicycle, created by Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni. Compared to the metal-framed bicycle, the cardboard bike is equally functional and weighs lighter (approximately 9 kg.). Aside from these, recycled cardboard is also used for items like helmet paddings and even alternative construction materials.

It is easy to overlook the real
significance of corrugated shipping boxes in today’s world. Sometimes, to fully understand a thing’s true value, it’s wise to remember that there may be more to it than meets the eye. Discover more of the innovative uses of cardboard from gizmag.com/innovative-uses-of-cardboard/30533/.

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