Skip to content

Common Shipping and Packaging Terms

Common Shipping and Packaging Terms

Glossary of Shipping and Packaging Terms to Better Your BusinessLearn some of the definitions of key words and phrases used by Hughes Enterprises to help you make informed decisions about your business’ shipping and packaging needs.

Glossary of Shipping and Packaging Terms

Some of the terms below come from Assembly Magazine – this online resource covers manufacturing automation and design as well as the processes, technologies and strategies for assembling parts in industries like automotive, aerospace and appliances.

Adhesive: Adhesives are the substances used to hold plies of solid fiberboard together, to hold linerboard to the tips of flutes of corrugated medium, or to hold overlapping flaps together to form the joint or to close a box.

Boxboard: a paperboard used in the manufacture of light non-corrugated containers. It can be plain, lined or clay-coated.

Bursting strength: paper’s strength to resist pressure; the resistance of paper to rupture as measured by the pressure required to burst it when a uniformly distributed and increasing pressure is applied to its top or bottom side.

Carton: a container made from thin paperboard that typically measures between 0.25 and 1 millimeter in thickness. Cartons are primarily used for displaying products on store shelves. They typically feature a chipboard stock that can support printing and graphics.

Cartonboard: a paperboard that is used to make folding boxes or cartons.

Cartoner: a machine that erects and closes carton blanks or folded and side-seam sealed cartons.

Case: a container made out of corrugated cardboard that is 3 to 6 millimeters thick.

Case packer: a machine that is similar to a cartoner, but it typically works with a heavier type of paperboard.

Changeover: the process of changing a packaging line from one product or type of package to another. It typically involves switching parts or fixtures. Changeover is an important indicator of lead time. Longer changeovers increase lead time and increase time to market; shorter changeovers reduce lead time and reduce time to market. Also called “set up.”

Clamshell: a rigid thermoformed plastic container that features a hinged lid with a positive snap closure so the package can be opened and resealed. An insert card is included to explain the uses and features of the product.

Closing machine: a device that seals or closes filled packages by crimping, folding or tucking. Adhesives, gummed tape and ultrasonic welding are often used, in addition to heat sealing.

Compression Strength: A corrugated box’s resistance to uniformly applied external forces. Top-to-bottom compression strength is related to the load a container may encounter when stacked. End-to-end or side-to-side compression may also be of interest for particular applications.

Containerboard: solid fiber or corrugated and combined paperboard used in the manufacture of shipping containers.

Corrugated: a durable, lightweight material used for making cases. Corrugated packaging has an arched layer, called fluting, between smooth sheets, called liner. The corrugated cardboard most commonly used to make cases has one layer of fluting between two smooth sheets.

Die-Cut: A box that is stamped out from a steel rule die, as opposed to being produced on a flexo folder gluer. Die-cut boxes provide greater design options and tighter size tolerances.

Dimensions: For a regular slotted containers (RSC), box dimensions are expressed as length x width x height, always using inside dimensions. This is important to note because of the recent DIM weight changes.

Double Wall: A corrugated board construction where two layers of medium are glued between three layers of flat linerboard facing.

Edge Crush Test: The Edge Crush Test (ECT) is a standard industry measure of the stacking strength of corrugated board. The amount of force needed to crush on-edge combined board is a primary factor in predicting the compressive strength of the completed box. When using certain specifications in the carrier classifications, minimum edge crush values must be certified.

Elasticity: the ability of paper or plastic to rebound back to its original state after being stretched.

End-of-line packaging: the final step in most packaging lines; the process consists of cartoning, case packing and palletizing.

Extensibility: the ability of paper or plastic to be stretched without breaking.

Filling machine: a device that measures a predetermined volume, weight or number of product and fills it into a bag, bottle, box, container, sack, tube or other type of package.

Flaps: Extension of the side wall panels that, when sealed, close the remaining openings of a box. Flaps are usually defined by one scoreline and three edges.

Flute: The wavy layer of corrugated medium that is glued between the flat inner and outer sheets of linerboard to create corrugated board. Fluting generally runs parallel to the height of a shipping box.

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE): a polymer that, when coated onto paperboard, creates a moisture and vapor barrier and improves heat sealing. Because it is inexpensive, LDPE is a widely used poly coating for paperboard.

Medium: The paperboard used to make the fluted layer of corrugated board.

Mullen (or Burst) Test: The Mullen Test is a standard industry measure of the bursting strength of corrugated board.

Overlap: A design feature wherein the top and/or bottom flaps of a box do not butt, but extend one over the other. The amount of overlap is measured from flap edge to flap edge.

Pallet: a portable, horizontal, rigid platform used as a base for assembling, storing, stacking, handling and transporting goods as a unit load. A pallet typically contains a raised superstructure that allows it to be lifted and moved by a forklift without damaging any cases.

Palletizer: a machine that forms, dismantles or secures pallets and other loading units. Can be either conventional (fixed) or robotic (flexible).

Primary packaging: refers to packaging that immediately envelopes a product. It provides most of the strength and the moisture, vapor or grease barrier needed to safeguard a product’s purity, potency and integrity from the time it leaves the assembly line until it’s used by the consumer. Examples of primary packaging include blister packs, clamshells and trays.

Secondary packaging: the outer package into which the primary package is placed. Its major function is to protect the product during shipping and distribution. Examples of secondary packaging include cartons, containers and pallets.

Shrink wrapping: a technique of packaging in which the strains in a plastic film are released by raising the temperature of the film, thus causing it to shrink over the package.

Stacking Strength: The maximum compressive load a container can bear over a given length of time, under given environmental/distribution conditions, without failing.

Sustainable Packaging: Packaging that is made from earth-friendly, recycled and/or recyclable materials. Sustainable packaging meets market criteria for performance and cost.

Thermoforming: a process of forming thermoplastic sheet that consists of heating the sheet and forcing it into a mold by vacuum, air pressure or mechanical pressure.

Wrapping machine: a device that wraps a flexible material, such as plastic film, around a product or group of products.

Fulfilling All Your Shipping and Packaging Needs

The Hughes Packaging Systems Solutions experts offer engineering excellence in designing and integrating shipping and packaging line solutions for businesses. We are here to guide you through any questions you may have about your shipping and corrugated packaging needs.