How to Start a Cardboard Box Manufacturing Business


The cardboard box manufacturing industry is the largest paper-converting industry in the world and the demand is increasing. As such, it is a lucrative business to get involved in and likely a profitable venture for anyone looking to start their own company. There are many things that you need to consider before you start a cardboard manufacturing business. There are organizational concerns such as the business formation and legalities, machinery and equipment costs, raw materials for the boxes, and the box making process to consider before you dive into this business venture. Here’s how to start a cardboard box manufacturing business.

Business Formation and Legalities

When you are thinking about starting a business, probably the last thing on your mind are the legalities of forming a business entity. You must have a basic understanding of business law before you begin your business. Once you understand the general business laws for your country or state, then you need to have an understanding of the laws that are in the field that you’re crafting a business in. These are all very important because illegal businesses can incur fines and even be closed before you’ve even got your start.

It’s obviously important that considering the legal effects of creating a business should be one of your first steps. Consulting with an attorney during the planning stages will help ensure that your business entity is fully compliant with federal and state laws and that you are legally able to operate as a manufacturer. Then, you’ll also need the attorney to deal with other issues once you get the business started. Employee contracts, partnership agreements, incorporation, brand protection, data privacy, and many other aspects of owning and running a business can be aided with the presence of an attorney.

When starting any business, especially one that manufactures goods, you have to pass through standards and regulations such as trade licensing and pollution control. Additionally, there are permits and insurances that you need to know how to obtain.

The Cardboard Industry and Pollution

This is an industry that can cause a lot of pollution, and for that reason, there is a lot of regulation.

The activities of this industry can cause air pollution due to the dust and fumes that it creates. There are many different emissions into the air. These emissions include oxides of nitrogen, sulphur, and carbon from combustion plants or liquor burning, dust from paper handling, ammonia and formaldehydes from wet strength resins, solvents from the cleaning or coating processes, chloroform from bleaching processes, and smelly substances from pulping and other treatments. These are all very harmful to the environment, so you need to comply with the conditions of the permit you receive.

These pollutants must be understood, otherwise you won’t be permitted to function as a business. You need to ensure that your activities aren’t a nuisance to the surrounding communities. If you are a nuisance, then the district council can place restrictions on your operations, halt your operations, or require you to change things about your operations. In general, it’s best to know the restrictions before the surrounding communities can take action against your business. Having a business in a place that you’re potentially polluting can be an upward struggle.

Your cardboard box business will also have many requirements for boilers and chimneys, which you will have in abundance. If you have a boiler, you need to meet very strict controls over the air emissions. You can’t cause or allow a chimney on your site to emit dark smoke. There are some exemptions from this requirement, but only if your installation won’t lead to emissions that can damage the health of the surrounding areas.

Preventing Harmful Emissions

You also need to ensure that you don’t emit ozone depleting substances or fluorinated gases. You can’t use any of these substances in degreasing or solvent application processes. These include hydrochlorofluorocarbons, chlorofluorocarbons, 1,1,1,- trichloroethane, bromochloromethane, or carbon tetrachloride. Fluorinated gases are powerful gases that greatly contribute to climate change. Solvents, firefighting and fire protection equipment, and refrigeration and air- conditioning equipment in buildings and vehicles all are likely composed of the fluorinated gases that you need to avoid. Understand this before you leap into the business.

As a good practice, there are a few things that you should do to reduce the odors, fumes, and dust you emit. First, establish systems to monitor, measure, and control the dust emissions as much as possible. Then, wet areas on your site that create dust, especially in dry weather. Filter all of the dust contaminated air during the finishing process of your cardboard boxes. Then install chemical recovery systems to trap chemicals and exhaust gases. You also need filtered extraction hoods on all paper machines to prevent the emission of harmful substances. These will be important to have on site.

Besides those, you need to have a few other things in place to reduce the emission of harmful chemicals. Ensure that you reduce the usage of bleaching chemicals by extending the cooking and oxygen delignification process. You also need to use brightening techniques that don’t dissolve the lining. This will decrease the chemical oxygen demand in the water of the manufacturing process. Chlorine free techniques are also suggested so that you don’t have to use sulphur compounds when bleaching.

Make sure to have a specialist on board when you start this business so that you know all the proper techniques to minimize the emissions and run a great business.

Machinery and Equipment for Cardboard Box Manufacturing

There is certain machinery that is common when starting a traditional corrugated cardboard box manufacturing business:

  • Face Paper Corrugation Machine

A corrugation machine is a set of smaller machines that combine two different kinds of paper to create sheets of corrugated cardboard. The flat sheets are called the liners and the wavy layers, or flutes, are known as the corrugating medium. A corrugator is designed to combine these sheets of paper to form single, double or triple wall cardboard.

  • Eccentric Slotter Machine

An eccentric slotter machine is used to punch out slots and stitching edge in corrugated cardboard sheets. It is capable of slotting a number of sheets simultaneously.

  • Board Cutters

Board cutters are designed to make straight, sharp cuts into many different materials. They can have the blades switched depending on the cut and the material that it’ll come into contact with. Some of them are made from high quality carbon for higher abrasion resistance and others are made of other materials to create a precise bevelled edge.

  • Stitching Machines

Stitching machines are used to nail the seams of the cardboard together to hold it in its box shape. Certain stitching machines have a dual-use and can be nailed to form single cartons, double sheet forming cartons or irregular cartons.

  • Sheet Cutters

This will help cut the paper used to make the cardboard into specific lengths and widths. It can take large rolls of paper and create smaller sheets of material for whatever need. Some sheet cutters can do lengths and widths separately, but others can do both of these simultaneously. They feed the rolls of material to convert the output of an extruder, calendar, laminator, or whatever other equipment that does the next step in the process. There are many add- ons for sheet cutters that make the process quicker.

  • Pressing Machine

You’ve likely seen a hand paper press, but you’ll need an industrial one. While the hand paper presses are used for paper making and art applications, the one in your factory will need to be large to produce mass amounts of paper for your cardboard boxes. They use huge amounts of pressure to remove water and quicken the drying process, which will allow you to produce units quicker. Multiple sheets can be pressed at a time, and you can even produce unique surfaces for the paper if needed.

  • Pasting Machine- Sheet

These machines are usually simply designed, but an essential part of your business. It’s used to apply glue on corrugated surfaces and pasting together sheets of varying ply and thickness. This machine has the ability to run at high speeds continuously. It can also have a large degree of preciseness so that your units are perfect. It should be easy to operate and have great longevity so you don’t have to purchase it again.

  • Flexo Printing Machine

This machine is ideal for printing various images, designs and text on a wide variety of manufacturing materials, including cardboard. Flexo printing is similar to a letterpress in how it works. An image plate is mounted onto a rotating cylinder that deposits ink onto the cardboard with each revolution of the cylinder.

  • Sheet Pressing Machine

Sheet pressing machines are used to press corrugated sheets together. The glued sheets are then processed on pasting machines and placed in piles. Then the lower plate is lowered so that pressure can be applied on these sheets. This pressure is regularized so that there’s an impression on the sheets, and this is the texture of the cardboard.

  • Variable frequency drive

A variable frequency drive (VFD) is a type of motor controller that varies the speed of an AC motor. It drives an electric motor by varying the frequency and voltage of its power supply. A VFD is energy saving because it allows you to run the AC motor on your machinery at the exact energy load it needs to be instead of running at peak energy load for longer periods of time.

  • Rotary Cutting and Creasing Machine

Cutting and creasing the cardboard is the first process in forming a corrugated cardboard box. This machine is used for creasing the corrugated cardboard and cutting slots and corners. Certain machines are able to do this process simultaneously which will make production more efficient.

  • Generator Set

This will power your entire plant. You want to be sure that you have the proper electricity to run all the machines. A generator set is made up of an electric generator and an engine. It can be used as the main or secondary source to meet your energy needs.

A lot of the above equipment can be eliminated in the cardboard box manufacturing process should you choose to start a corrugated box business with an auto box machine. An auto box machine is an advanced automatic box making machine that is user-friendly, efficient, and fully customizable to the demands of your manufacturing business.

An auto box machine streamlines the process and allows the manufacturing process to be more versatile. By using an auto box machine for production, you can enjoy lower risk at a lower cost. This machine does not take up much space, therefore bypassing the need to rent factory space, and can be adjusted to make many box styles and sizes to fit the needs of your future customers. If you plan to have a small cardboard box manufacturing business, this is the most cost-efficient way to go.

Raw Materials for Cardboard Box Manufacturing

In addition to the machinery and equipment needed to manufacture cardboard boxes, you also must secure the raw materials to be able to make the cardboard.

  • Kraft Paper
  • Corn Starch
  • Glue
  • Wax
  • Paraffin Water
  • Stitching Wire
  • Inks

Cardboard Box Manufacturing Process

Putting machinery and raw materials together, here is how cardboard boxes are manufactured, step by step:

1. A machine rolls out kraft paper or recycled paper to make the flute or the wavy sheet of the cardboard. Two flat kraft sheets called liners sandwich the flute to make the corrugated cardboard.

2. The kraft paper goes through rollers called the corrugator, where hot steam is sprayed on the board and one roller glues one side of the flute.

3. Two liner sheets are glued on both sides of the flute. During this process, multiple layers of liner paper and wavy sheets are pressed to make double or triple-wall cardboard.

4. The cardboard is then trimmed on each side by a saw.

5. A corrugator machine sizes the box by cutting each piece of cardboard a specified number of times.

6. Another machine separates the boards into layers and stacks them.

7. The boards are fed through a trimmer which cuts the cardboard to make flaps and handles needed for the design.

8. A bending machine folds the boxes along any creases made by the corrugator and also applies glue.

9. Another machine folds the parts with glue to form a box.

10. These boxes are then stacked up and shipped to the suppliers.

11. If the customer added any special markings and symbols, those are printed on as the final step. The manufacturer may also add markings based on the box’s strength and capacity.

Project Costs and Investments

Your fixed capital consists of all machines and equipment needed for production.

Working capital is the money available to meet your obligations. It is the difference between a company’s current assets and its current liabilities. This includes expenses such as rent, managers’ and skilled workers’ salaries, security, and hiring maintenance workers.

Additionally, you’ll incur costs from purchasing raw materials, utilities, and other expenses such as advertisements, marketing, repairs and maintenance.

Overall, starting a cardboard box manufacturing business is a serious undertaking. There are environmental considerations in following federal and state regulations in limiting pollutant output and expensive equipment machinery to purchase at the outset. However, with the right preparation, business planning, capital investments and legal guidance, it can be a profitable industry to break into.


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