Examples of several types of cartons for different products

Carton is the name of certain types of containers typically made from paperboard which is also sometimes known as cardboard. Many types of cartons are used in packaging. Sometimes a carton is also called a box.


Types of cartons

Folding cartons

Typical blank for folding carton

A carton is a type of packaging suitable for food, pharmaceuticals, hardware, and many other types of products. Folding cartons are usually combined into a tube at the manufacturer and shipped flat (knocked down) to the packager. Tray styles have a solid bottom and are often shipped as flat blanks and assembled by the packager. Some also are self-erecting. High-speed equipment is available to set up, load, and close the cartons.

Egg carton

Egg Cartons

Egg cartons or trays are designed to protect whole eggs while in transit. Traditionally these have been made of molded pulp. This uses recycled newsprint which is molded into a shape which protects the eggs. Premium molded paper pulp egg cartons are a 92% reduction in waste after use compared to plastic[citation needed] More recently egg cartons have also been made from expanded polystyrene (similar to styrofoam) and PET.

Aseptic carton

Cartons for liquids can be fabricated from laminates of liquid packaging board, foil, and polyethylene. Most are based on either Tetra Pak or Combibloc systems. One option is to have the printed laminate supplied on a roll. The carton is cut, scorred, and formed at the packager. A second option is to have the pre-assembled tubes delivered to the packager for completion and filling. These are suited for aseptic processing and are used for milk, soup, juice, etc.

Gable top

Gable top carton of cream

Gable top cartons are often used for liquid products such as milk, juice, etc. These used polyethylene-coated liquid packaging board and sometimes a foil laminate. Most are opened by pushing open the gables at the top. Some have fitments to assist in opening and pouring the contents.

Packaging history

The history of the carton goes as far back as 1879 in a Brooklyn, New York factory operated by Robert Gair. A die-ruled, cut, and scored paperboard into a single impression of a folded carton. By 1896, the National Biscuit Company was the first to use cartons to package crackers.[1]

The next development of folded paper used to construct cartons are mentioned by Dr. Winslow of Seattle, Washington in 1908 who claimed that paper milk containers were commercially sold in San Francisco and Los Angeles as early as 1906. The inventor of this carton was G.W. Maxwell. However, it was in 1915 that John Van Wormer of Toledo, Ohio was granted the first patent for the first "paper bottle," which was the first folded blank box for holding milk. He called it the "Pure-Pak." The milk carton was original in the sense that it could be folded, glued, filled with milk, and sealed at a dairy farm.[2]

An early American packaging industry pioneer was the Kieckhefer Container Company, which was run by John W. Kieckhefer. The company excelled in the use of fibre shipping containers, which especially included the paper milk carton. In 1957, through an exchange of stock, the Kieckhefer Container Co. holdings were merged with the Weyerhauser Timber Company of Tacoma, Washington.


Although quite often shaped like a cuboid, it is not uncommon to find cartons lacking right angles and straight edges, as in squrounds used for ice cream. The number of corners on any given carton is a function of the product it contains. For example, a product with eight vertices would require a box also with eight corners.

Tetrahedrons and other shapes are available. Cartons with a hexagonal or octagonal cross sections are sometimes used for specialty items.


Folding cartons made of microflute corrugated fiberboard

Cartons can be made from many materials: paperboard, various plastics, or a composite. Some are "food grade" for direct contact with foods. Many cartons are made out of a single piece of paperboard. Depending on the need, this paperboard can be waxed or coated with polyethylene to form a moisture barrier. This may serve to contain a liquid product or keep a powder dry.

Artistic design

In art history, the carton (pronounced the French way) was a drawing on ordinary cardboard, used as life-size design for the manufacture in an atelier of a valuable tapestry, such as a gobelin. During the weaving it hung behind the tapestry in the making, a time-consuming process thus in a creative sense simplified to 'mechanical' painting-by-numbers.

As these were extremely valuable, often commanded by the very richest art-buyers, including princes who hung them in their palaces and even took them on their travels as prestigious displays of wealth, often with a visual message, especially the world-famous Flemish ateliers were deemed worthy to have cartons made by some of the greatest graphic artists of the time, including such celebrated painters as Rubens.


Carton-pierre, was a material used for the making of raised ornaments for wall and ceiling decoration. It is composed of the pulp of paper mixed with whiting (ground calcium carbonate) and glue, this being forced into plaster moulds backed with paper, and then removed to a drying room to harden. It is much stronger and lighter than common plaster-of-Paris ornaments, and is not so liable to chip or break if struck with anything.

See also


  • Brody, A. L., and Marsh, K, S., "Encyclopedia of Packaging Technology", John Wiley & Sons, 1997, ISBN 0-471-06397-5

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  • carton — [ kartɔ̃ ] n. m. • v. 1500; it. cartone, augment. de carta « papier » 1 ♦ Feuille assez épaisse, faite de pâte à papier (papier grossier ou ensemble de feuilles collées). Carton pâte ou carton gris, fait de vieux papiers, de rognures. Carton… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Cartón — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Para otros usos de este término, véase cartón (desambiguación). El cartón es un material formado por varias capas de papel superpuestas, a base de fibra virgen o de papel reciclado. El cartón es más grueso, duro y… …   Wikipedia Español

  • carton — CARTON. s. masc. Carte grosse et forte, faite de papier haché, battu et collé. Gros carton. Bas relies en carton. Un livre relié avec du carton, en carton. Boîte de carton. [b]f♛/b] On appelle Carton fin, Celui qui n est fait que de plusieurs… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • cartón — sustantivo masculino 1. Lámina gruesa hecha de pasta de papel endurecida o de varias hojas de papel superpuestas: cartón ondulado, cartón aislante. 2. Recipiente o envase hecho con cartones: un cartón de huevos. cartón de tabaco Caja que contiene …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • carton — car‧ton [ˈkɑːtn ǁ ˈkɑːrtn] noun [countable] TRANSPORT a light strong container made of Cardboard or plastic, usually in the form of a box * * * carton UK US /ˈkɑːtən/ noun [C] ► a box made from thick cardboard, used for storing or transporting… …   Financial and business terms

  • Carton — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Adrian Carton de Wiart (1880–1963), britischer Generalleutnant und Träger des Victoria Kreuzes Cheryl Carton (* um 1955), US amerikanische Badmintonspielerin Henri Carton de Wiart (1869–1951), belgischer… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • carton — Carton. s. m. Espece de carte grosse & forte, faite de papier collé ou haché. Gros carton. bas relief en carton. un livre relié avec du carton. On appelle aussi, Carton, Une partie de feüille d impression qu on refait, à cause de quelques fautes …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • cartón — (De carta, papel). 1. m. Conjunto de varias hojas superpuestas de pasta de papel que, en estado húmedo, se adhieren unas a otras por compresión y se secan después por evaporación. 2. Hoja de varios tamaños, hecha de pasta de trapo, papel viejo y… …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Carton — Carton, Sydney an important character in the book A Tale of Two Cities (1859) by Charles Dickens. Carton is a London lawyer who falls in love with Lucie Manette. But Lucie marries Charles Darnay. Darnay is arrested and sentenced to death, but… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • carton — [kärt′ n] n. [Fr < It cartone < carta, paper: see CARD1] 1. a cardboard box, esp. a large one, as for shipping merchandise 2. a boxlike container, as of light, waxed cardboard, for liquids 3. a full carton or its contents vt. to put into a… …   English World dictionary

  • Carton — Car ton (k[aum]r t[o^]n), n. [F. See {Cartoon}.] Pasteboard for paper boxes; also, a pasteboard box. [1913 Webster] {Carton pierre}, a species of papier mach[ e], imitating stone or bronze sculpture. Knight. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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