Taking the Mystery out of Creating Folding Carton Specs
In a series of upcoming blogs we will focus on the theme of developing carton specs, what are the technical considerations along with some inside information on how the process works in hopes that this information will be useful to some fledgling entrepreneur out there trying to bring a great new consumer product to market.
At every trade show we attend, we encounter potential customers who are just starting out in their business venture and have almost no knowledge on how or where to begin in specifying a necessary component of their new product: folding cartons. My heart truly goes out to them because I realize the many considerations that need to be made in this process, coupled with the important role the carton may play in making their product a success. We consider these entrepreneurs to be lucky for finding our booth because, with all of our talent and experience, we are able and well-positioned to guide them through the difficult and sometimes lengthy process. We are also very excited to work with start-ups because it allows us to get involved and make a contribution early in the process, and then actually see the product and their dreams come to fruition – hopefully, with great success.
A good place to start the process of specifying a folding carton is to first do some shopping. Look around at the different cartons you see, collecting samples of products like you like. This exercise will help you gain some familiarity with various carton styles and substrates. You will be more observant as to how products are displayed, and also learn what features grab your eyes. The samples that you collect can then be used as a basis for communicating specifications with both your designer and sales contact. There is a good reason why existing cartons look and feel the way they do; someone has already done the hard work in getting it to that point.
A worthwhile but more academic exercise is to invest some thoughtful consideration into the intended purpose and end-use of your desired carton. This is, admittedly, a very difficult step, and that is why I advise to break apart the different roles a carton serves into distinct categories that address the question as to why you would need a package in the first place. With there being so many different ways to categorize the purpose for packaging, I would recommend working off of a basic list that is familiar to me.
It is of our opinion that the purpose of a package is to serve these main functions:
-Protect the product
- -Inform the customer of the product’s contents and attributes
- -Market the product
In addition to these first three primary packaging purposes, one must also consider how the product will used or dispensed by the end user, filled by the manufacturer or packer, and then properly disposed of or recycled at its end of life. Taking into account the package’s “environmental impact” has become a much more important factor over the last few years due to the multitude of sustainability programs in place.
Starting with our next blog entry, we will first detail the steps taken to protect the product – from a packaging engineer’s point of view. This analysis will include specifying the material, sizing the actual carton, and engineering the carton style.