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THE FOLDING CARTON MANUFACTURING JOURNEY

At Label Craft a cornerstone of secondary packaging is the FBB folding carton. FBB stock is specifically formulated to crease easily, and some stocks are purchased for their crack resistance properties. The most significant advantage of folding cartons is that they can be shipped flat and then assembled upon arrival, making them an incredibly space efficient alternative to packaging that must be fully constructed. Currently Label Craft Supplies cartons for global brands across Europe and the UK, all handled with precision and care at our Dublin factory. 

All great packaging solutions start as an idea and being included in the design team’s vision can allow folding carton manufacturers to realise the vision more effectively. For inspiration on design read our recently published article here. 

Once a design has been decided upon, it’s all the process for taking your folding carton packaging design from concept into a reality. Here’s what the typical process looks like:

1. DIE-LINES AND SHEET LAYOUT

Die-lines are the 2D flat version of what will become the final 3D folding carton. Die lines will show where die-cutting, folding and gluing will occur and will also show where artwork is positioned for printing.

In offset-sheet fed production, die-lines are then used by pre-press departments to build the ‘sheet layout’.

Depending on the size of sheet, the number of versions and/or pieces for that specific package, the maximum number that can be put ‘up on the sheet’ will be configured.

2. SHEETING & PRINTING

Before the FBB can be run through the press, it needs to be sheeted. FBB typically arrives from the supplier in a large roll, and sheeting is the process by which these rolls are cut into sheets of FBB to be fed into the press. During this stage, folding carton manufacturers will ensure the grain is running in the direction that will be most effective.

Once the sheets are fed into the press the imagery and artwork is printed onto the sheets using the sheet layout. During the print process, many ink and coating units will be used to apply colour, innovative textures, and other visual effects.

3. POST-PRESS FINISHES

At this point, any remaining effects such as hot foils or emboss/debossing will be done post-press using hot foil stampers and emboss/deboss machines. These effects further ‘dress the sheet’ while it is still in its flat form.

4. DIE-CUTTING

After the printing and post-press processes are complete, it is time for die cutting. The die is an elaborate, powerful cookie cutter used to cut many duplicates of the layout out of a sheet of FBB and to minimise waste. In addition to steel knives to cut along edges, the die will also have rounded protrusions to create the creases that will allow for easy folding where necessary. When the individual cartons have been cut out of the original sheet, folding carton manufacturers separate and recycle the remaining stripped paper to form new FBB.

5. FOLDING/GLUING

With die-cutting complete, it is time to move to folding and gluing where the flat, die cut pieces will be fed for folding, pre-breaking, and gluing. Some folding cartons require transparent windows through which the product can be seen, and these windows can often be applied ‘in-line’ during folding/gluing.

The goal is to do as many of these operations in the fewest ‘passes’ and to end up with a flat, folded/glued package that can be ‘racked’ and ‘fulfilled’ with the actual product. In 2019 Label Craft invested in a new Heidelberg machine capable of mass production utilising the latest technology. See a video of our machine in action here. 

Have a folding carton design that needs to go from concept to reality? Get in touch with one of our friendly sales team by contacting either Denise Robinson deniser@label-craft.com or Ken Hickey at ken@label-craft.com 

High processing quality, short make-ready times and consistent user-friendliness with the Label-Craft Gold Standard of excellence. To see more about our factory and capacity to produce high end quality labels and cartons please visit here

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