The making of a box
A Jefferson Smurfit Group case study

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Page 2: Issues in box design

Jefferson Smurfit Group 3 Image 3In designing a box, the elements of containment, protection and display – to varying degrees, depending on the use proposed – are paramount.

A product manufacturer, in consultation with structural and graphic designers, must consider the degree of fragility of the product, what stresses and hazards the product is likely to encounter in packing, storage and shipping and to what extent the display of the packaging will contribute to its attractiveness to the consumer. These criteria will influence the material, style and shape which the structural designer will choose for the finished package, while the graphics designer will concentrate on using the shape and texture of the pack to achieve maximum effectiveness at point of sale. In this way, a customer-driven packaging solution is obtained.

Structural designers will concern themselves with the specific requirements of shipping and storage, in order to match the appropriate materials to the performance levels required. If the product has a unique shape or size, these designers will assist in developing the exact shape of container which the product needs. Computer-Aided Design, or CAD systems, are used to specify and translate these requirements into a form which is usable on the shop floor where the box is manufactured.

When display is an important consideration, graphic designers – using Computer-Aided Graphics, or CAG systems – will also contribute, designing an attractive presentation of the product’s identity which will be printed on the board before it is cut, scored and glued into its final box shape. But let’s go back to the beginning. How and from what materials is a box manufactured?

The raw materials

Wood is the primary raw material used in the manufacture of a box. The cellulose fibres contained in wood are well suited to paper-making and certain species of tree provide fibres which are especially suitable for making the grades of paper needed for making boxes. Pine and spruce trees provide excellent raw material, but the long time needed to bring them to maturity – as much as 70 years – can be a drawback, as it is prudent and responsible to renew the natural resource of the forest at a faster rate than we consume it. As a result, more rapidly maturing species like eucalyptus – which reaches maturity in only seven to ten years – are increasingly important. After harvesting, the wood is turned into pulp by various processes of chipping, grinding and bleaching and is then dried and assembled into bales.

Jefferson Smurfit Group | The making of a box