blog de manualidades

Practical guide to packaging terms

19 Nov

Many people who enter the packaging sector are unaware, not only of the terminology used, but also of the possibilities that exist in terms of structure, materials, assembly, types of boxes, finishes, etc.

It is important that when we do a project that requires packaging we know, at least, what possibilities we have according to the function that the box must fulfil and assess the structural and graphic viability of what we want to do.

This knowledge will help us to understand the difficulty, production times and even the budget of our future packaging.


Terms of structural packaging design

When we talk about structural packaging design, we are referring to the morphology and assembly of the boxes and, in this process, there are several concepts to take into account:

  • 1.1 Die: Metal or wooden piece with a cutting edge that is used to make shapes cut out of paper or cardboard, among other materials, and which is used to make incisions in them, whether they are cuts or crevices.


  • 1.2 Creasing: A mark or groove made on the boxes by pressure when die-cutting them to facilitate subsequent folding of the box.


  • 1.3 Gluing: Process by which some edges of the box are glued for assembly, either by hot glue for materials such as cardboard or microflute or with double-sided adhesive tape for cardboard.


  • 1.4 Board: Flat cardboard surface. At Selfpackaging we start with a 70x100cm cardboard/cardboard/Microflute sheet, so we cannot die-cut boxes that are larger than this size. 


guide of packaging

Terms about materials

In terms of materials, the possibilities are endless, but at Selfpackaging we only work with cardboard and cardboard derivatives and, in some cases, with PET plastic for the lids of some boxes, especially for confectionery boxes.


  • 2.1 Grey cardboard: Grey cardboard is a very strong material, made from recycled paper and has a smooth surface. It is often used for bookbinding, the manufacture of lined boxes, among others.


  • 2.2 Cardboard: Cardboard is a paper that is generally thicker and stronger than normal writing paper, but more flexible and lighter than other forms of cardboard. All boxes that are not shipping boxes are usually made of cardboard because of its flexibility and the possibility of generating different shapes.


  • 2.3 Microflute board: Microflute board consists of three papers, an outer paper, an inner corrugated paper and an outer paper. This type of board is produced with a 1 to 1.5 mm E-wave or E-channel. It is mainly used for the manufacture of shipping and storage boxes due to its strength and hardness.


  • 2.4 Kraft board: Kraft board is a material obtained from wood fibre pulp or recycled cardboard. It is a very strong material. It is a type of cardboard that is thick, rough to the touch, light in weight and very resistant. It can have different weights, from 20 to 120 grams approximately. In its natural form it is brown but it can also be found in other colours.


Terms about typology and structure of boxes

There are many different types of boxes depending on their use, shape, material, assembly, etc. Below are some of the most commonly used terms in the sector:


  • 3.1 Holder: A holder is a support that is added to boxes to fulfil a specific function. Either it is intended to hold a product to prevent it from moving during transport, which is widely used in confectionery boxes, or it can be used to give extra strength to the box as an addition to the sides of the inside of the box, etc.


  • 3.2 Bucket: A bucket is a generally rectangular-shaped container that can be used without a lid and of a certain thickness and is used to store objects.


  • 3.3 Lid and base: When we talk about a box with lid and base it means that these parts are separate, unlike other types of boxes where lid and base are joined together by the same cardboard sheet. In this case, the lid is manufactured on one side and the base on the other, which can be of different colours or materials.


  • 3.4 Lined box: A lined box is a box made of grey cardboard inside and lined with fabric or printed paper. Special finishes are usually applied to the printing, such as screen printing, stamping or embossing, among others, to give exclusivity and presence to the box. This type of box is very hard and resistant and is usually used in jewellery, premium cosmetics, etc.



Terms about types of finishing

When we talk about types of finishes, we refer to the effects that can be given to printed or unprinted cardboard or cardboard. From a glossy or matt effect, to a relief in the logo stamping, a specific texture to the touch, etc.


  • 4.1 Plasticising: Plasticising is a type of finishing that consists of applying a film to one or both sides of a support to give it a differential matt or glossy shade. In addition to being an aesthetic addition, it can also provide more rigidity to the box, resistance to breakage, protection against humidity, etc.


  • 4.2 Dry punching or embossing: A type of finishing which consists of stamping letters or images by means of pressure with a die without ink or varnish on a surface to leave a mark. It can be applied in high relief, when it protrudes from the flat part, or in low relief when it is sunk with respect to the flat part.


  • 4.3 Embossing: The process of producing a relief on the paper by the effect of pressure, thus producing a textured effect on the paper.


  • 4.4 Soft touch: Soft touch is a satin matt and velvety finish. It is a laminating film that excels in protecting the print and giving a refined texture to the bonded substrate.



Printing terms

The world of printing is vast and today’s technology has allowed the development of different techniques from manual to mechanical or digital processes. The decision of which type of printing to use is usually decided internally, depending on the expected result, costs, number of units, but here are some of the most common types of printing:


  • 5.1 Digital printing: Digital printing is a process that consists of printing a digital file directly onto paper or cardboard. This type of printing has no colour limit and offers high quality. However, its application is more costly and its execution time is somewhat longer than other printing techniques, so it is not usually used for printing large quantities.


  • 5.2 Screen printing: A printing technique that consists of transferring ink through a mesh stretched over a frame. It can be used on any flat surface and is suitable for printing large quantities, although it does not allow for highly detailed designs and remains an unsustainable alternative in the use of its inks. 


  • 5.3 Stamping: Heat printing or stamping is a printing technique that consists of transferring a film to a support by means of pressure and high temperature. It is usually used for printing large quantities as it requires a die and although it is able to transfer metallic colours, it is not a very versatile technique as it does not allow printing in several colours.  


  • 5.4 Water-based ink: Water-based ink is any ink that uses water as a solvent base to transport the pigment. As well as offering excellent print quality and being more economical, they reduce the carbon footprint and environmental impact by reducing the emission of pollutants. At Selfpackaging we use water-based inks in our printing with the aim of offering packaging that is not only environmentally friendly in its materials but also in its printed format. 

If you are missing information or there is something that we have not explained and you would like to know, write to us and help us to complete this practical guide to packaging. 

Stay tuned as we will be updating the list!

By Elisabet, SelfPackaging

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