Packaging Terms & Definitions

Every industry has its unique terms and language and ours is no different. We thought it might be helpful for you to have some of this language defined.

Corrugated vs Cardboard

Technically, these are two different things. However, in practice, the words are commonly used to refer to the same thing. “Cardboard” is a generic term referring to different types of heavy-duty paper used for a variety of purposes (eg. cardboard box). “Corrugated” refers to a specific type of paper. Corrugated paper has been pleated and has a wavy appearance. The pleating of the paper gives it improved strength and provides a cushion of air between the paper layers. For most packaging applications, this paper is enveloped between two layers of flat paper. Each of these layer assemblies forms a “wall”. Corrugated packaging constructed of one such wall is known as “singlewall”. If two walls are sandwiched together you get “doublewall”, three walls gives you “triplewall” and so on. The more walls, the stronger the construction.

Cartons, Boxes & Containers

These words really mean the same thing. So whether you call them cartons, boxes or containers, you’re likely referring to any folded container constructed of corrugated paper. They come in standard sizes as well as any custom size imaginable.

Dunnage, Pads & Partitions

These terms refer to the protective packaging inside your container. Dunnage by definition is any material inserted into the container to support or protect the contents. It can be constructed from corrugated, foam, wood, etc. Dunnage can be custom designed to accommodate any size or shape of product. Pads & Partitions are popular forms of dunnage. Pads are typically a thin gauge of corrugated that are layered flat between rows of product to separate one row from the other. Partitions are typically upright dividers that separate parts vertically from each other. The most recognizable partition would be found in a case of beer.

RSC vs HSC vs FOL

These are popular abbreviations for the most common types of corrugated box. RSC stands for a Regular Slotted Container. The RSC is likely the most recognizable style of corrugated box. It has 2 slotted flaps that fold and meet in the middle to close the bottom of the box and 2 identical flaps to close the top of the box. HSC stands for a Half Slotted Container. The HSC is identical to the RSC except that it has no top flaps at all. The top of an HSC is completely open. FOL stands for Full Overlap Container. The FOL is similar to the RSC with flaps top and bottom, except the flaps fully overlap each other and reach the far side of the box.

ECT vs Burst Strength

These are the two most common measures of the strength of corrugated packaging. When you package your products in a corrugated container, you will want to know how that packaging will perform when exposed to the load exerted by the contents and by forces outside of the packaging. Both are used in the field, but ECT is becoming more common. ECT stands for Edge Crush Test and is a measurement of how much downward compression force the walls of your box can withstand before they start to crush. Boxes are crushed in a laboratory setting and then assigned a score based on their crush point. The higher the ECT rating, the greater the resistance to crushing. This is particularly important when you are stacking loaded boxes on top of each other. Burst Strength is a measurement of how well the walls of a box will resist the outward forces exerted by the contents of the box. This measurement is also determined in laboratory setting and is typically expressed in pounds per square inch (PSI). The higher the burst strength rating, the greater the resistance to bursting. This measurement is important for heavier, bulk parts which exert a great amount of force on the walls of a box.

Heat Treated Wood Pallets & Crating

Heat Treatment (HT) is used to render wood free of harmful pests that could destroy trees in other countries. It is the internationally recognized method for making wood packaging safe for export. HT wood packaging that has been made by a certified HT manufacturer will be stamped with the required ISPM-15 marking. This stamp provides proof to all importing bodies that the packaging is safe to enter their country. Only companies certified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) under their Canadian Wood Packaging Certification Program (CWPCP) are allowed to supply HT packaging for export. Simply buying heat treated wood and making your own packaging doesn’t make it certified for export.