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Heavy-duty cardboard boxes: what are your options?

Ian Heskins: Last Updated 27th March 2024
Posted In: Design & Innovation | Guides and Advice | Transit Protection
https://www.gwp.co.uk/author/Ian-Heskins/ xx 31628

Industrial corrugated packaging

Options for heavy-duty packaging requirements

Heavy-duty cardboard boxes are vital if you manufacture or sell industrial parts, bulky items, or products that require high levels of protection in transit.

Heavy-duty cardboard boxes provide greater strength and protection for their contents. Heavy-duty cardboard is typically more robust due to using one or two extra layers of material, creating a double or triple wall box. Packaging manufactured using heavy-duty cardboard is widely used for shipping heavy, bulky, expensive, and fragile items.

However, several options exist when considering which heavy-duty cardboard boxes to use. This guide explores:

  • The types of heavy-duty packaging available.
  • Typical applications of heavy-duty cardboard boxes.
  • The advantages of each packaging material
  • Alternative packaging options to consider.

Contents

Introduction

When you need to consider heavy-duty boxes

Although cardboard is an incredibly versatile material, it has some limitations in terms of strength and load capacity.

However, while this is often true of common, single-wall cardboard, heavy-duty cardboard boxes can provide significantly higher strength and performance.

As a result, businesses commonly use double and triple-wall boxes in various industrial packaging applications. These include the safe, single-trip shipping of large, bulky, fragile, and expensive products.

Yet the choice of packaging ultimately depends on various factors. These include the weight and fragility of the items you are shipping, the mode of transportation, and budget constraints.

Triple wall cardboard closeup
Heavy duty cardboard can offer a range of benefits, including protection, cost reduction and sustainability..

Why use heavy-duty cardboard boxes?

Benefits common to all heavy-duty cardboard boxes

There are several benefits to using heavy-duty cardboard boxes, which apply regardless of the type, size or format you use.

Strength

Heavy-duty cardboard offers strength through its layered structure, which includes corrugated “fluting” sandwiched between outer layers. This construction provides resilience against bending, crushing, and tearing forces, making it suitable for packaging heavy items.

Its compression strength enables it to withstand pressure and weight, while its tensile strength prevents tearing.

Size flexibility

Packaging manufacturers can produce heavy-duty cardboard boxes in virtually any size.

This size flexibility offers several benefits, including improved protection for its contents, more efficient shipping (you do not pay to transport empty space and minimised environmental impact.

Timber frame with cardboard wrapped on the exterior
An example of a long piece of packaging with a mix of cardboard and timber.

Print

Cardboard, including heavy-duty grades, offers excellent printability thanks to its smooth surfaces.

In addition to logos to improve brand awareness through your supply chain, you can also use print to add important handling symbols, safety information, identification, and other helpful in-formation.

Recyclability

Besides being made from renewable resources, cardboard can easily be recovered and processed into new paper products.

Recycling heavy-duty cardboard promotes a circular economy, conserves energy, reduces waste, and aligns with consumer preferences for eco-friendly packaging.

Types of heavy-duty cardboard box

Options for your industrial shipping requirements

Despite all heavy-duty packaging having several inherent benefits, there are three main types of heavy-duty cardboard boxes. Each has noticeably different properties, performance, and features.

The available types of heavy-duty cardboard boxes are:

  • Heavy duty double wall boxes
  • Triple wall boxes (including Tri-Wall)
  • Tri-Mite

Double wall boxes

Common heavy-duty packaging option

Double wall cardboard is a popular choice for various packaging applications, offering improved strength and durability than single-wall equivalents.

Double wall cardboard consists of two layers of fluting with three liners.

This construction makes it suitable for heavy-duty packaging applications, particularly if using a heavier grade (i.e., one that uses higher GSM liners).

Workers examining corrugated board for manufacture.
Double wall cardboard is suitable for a range of industrial and heavy duty packaging applications.

Key benefits of double wall boxes

Double-wall boxes provide all the benefits you expect from corrugated packaging, with additional strength and durability.

Advantages include size flexibility, a huge range of styles and designs, the ability to add print and branding, and good levels of protection during transit.

Double-wall boxes are also easily recycled at the end of their life and can be manufactured using FSC-certified material.

Double wall boxes are also one of the most cost-effective forms of transit packaging available.

Applications for heavy duty double wall boxes

Double-wall cardboard provides increased protection for shipping and transporting heavy or delicate items.

Double wall cardboard boxes are also popular for storing bulky or heavy items in warehouses or storage facilities.

Many businesses use double-wall packaging in retail applications for products needing extra protection during display and handling. It is essential, however, to use a finer flute for the outer wall to achieve a good print quality.

Triple wall boxes

Triwall and similar 3-ply boxes

Triple-wall cardboard boxes provide unparalleled strength and protection.

Triple wall material uses three layers of fluting (the corrugated part) and five liners to create an incredibly strong and durable material.

Tri-Wall is the most well-known of this type of material (manufactured by a company of the same name), but similar triple-wall cardboard is available from other manufacturers.

Advantages of triple wall boxes

Featuring compression strength up to 10 times greater than standard corrugated materials, triple wall boxes provide unmatched rigidity and resistance to crush and abrasion.

They boast performance and compression strength akin to wooden crates and effectively mitigate the impact of temperature changes.

Remarkably, they achieve this while offering a significantly lighter tare weight, resulting in reduced shipping costs.

Compared to wooden crates, they are less bulky and more space-efficient, and their custom sizes further optimise shipping costs.

Triple wall cardboard
Triple wall cardboard boxes can provide strength akin to wooden crates and cases.

Triple wall packaging applications

Triple-wall boxes are ideal for extremely heavy or oversized items requiring a high degree of protection during shipping.

Businesses commonly use it to pack and ship machinery, equipment, and industrial parts.

With superior strength and durability, triple-wall cardboard is also well-suited for export packaging, ensuring goods reach their destination securely.

They are also ideal for pallet boxes, and are available in different grades tailored to various applications.

As a result, triple-wall cardboard packaging is commonly utilised in industries like automotive, manufacturing, and aerospace.

Tri-Mite

Unique triple wall material

Another triple wall material, although less well known than Tri-Wall, is Tri-Mite. As with standard triple-wall cardboard, it uses three layers of fluting and five liners to create the material.

Uniquely amongst corrugated cardboard though, it is possible to cut Tri-Mite at a 45º degree angle. This feature enables exceptionally neat and robust taped joints and corners.

Its unique construction allows various customisation options, including handles and closure fittings.

A tri-mite box
Tri-Mite is similar to triple-wall cardboard, but can have 45 degree edges and taped joints/seams.

Advantages of Tri-Mite boxes

Tri-Mite is exceptionally robust, boasting the remarkable ability to withstand over 2.5 tonnes of pressure before yielding.

Besides its strength, its construction makes it reusable across multiple trips, providing longevity and cost-effectiveness. You can even repair it in certain circumstances by replacing walls, tape, handles, and locking mechanisms.

Tri-Mite’s life span can also be further extended through painting (in any RAL colour) or with acrylic coating to provide water resistance. It is also suitable for printing or stencilling.

And finally, Tri-Mite offers a significantly improved aesthetic appearance compared with other forms of heavy-duty packaging (due to the 45-degree joints).

Tri-Mite packaging applications

Whether in the aerospace, automotive, or military sectors, Tri-Mite excels in packaging parts, components, or machinery, offering unparalleled protection during transportation and storage.

Its reliability is trusted even in the most demanding military environments, ensuring the safe de-livery of critical equipment and supplies.

Tri-Mite is also a popular alternative to timber shipping cases, with its similar strength but lighter weight resulting in lower shipping expenses and easier handling.

Heavy duty cardboard box alternatives

Similar packaging options for industrial applications

While heavy-duty options undeniably offer versatility across a wide range of applications, it’s essential to recognise scenarios where exploring alternative materials may be prudent.

As such, you should also consider several of the alternatives to heavy-duty cardboard boxes.

Timber crates and cases

Timber crates and cases are popular due to their robustness and reliability, particularly in export applications.

Commonplace in manufacturing, automotive, and agriculture industries, timber crates can safe-guard valuable cargo from rough handling and harsh environmental conditions.

However, wooden crates are notably heavier than alternative materials, resulting in higher transportation expenses and logistical challenges. They are also typically intended for single-trip use, adding to their environmental footprint and contributing to waste accumulation.

Stacked wooden shipping crates in a warehouse
Timber crates are a popular choice for industrial and export packaging applications.

Correx®

Correx®, a corrugated plastic, is a versatile packaging material with many benefits.

Its reusable nature contributes to cost savings over time and aligns with sustainability goals by reducing waste generation.

Furthermore, its lightweight construction facilitates easy handling and transportation, minimising labour costs and improving efficiency throughout the supply chain.

Resistant to water and moisture, Correx® offers reliable protection for goods even in challenging environments.

However, while it boasts impressive durability and longevity, its complex composition makes it difficult to recycle

Additionally, Correx® typically commands a higher upfront cost than cardboard, necessitating careful consideration of budgetary constraints and long-term investment benefits (the lifespan of Correx® can be anywhere between 2-5 years).

Correx returnable packaging
Correx® totes, boxes and containers are one of the most versatile and durable forms of returnable packaging

GRP cases

Packaging using Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) provides exceptional toughness and reliability.

These cases boast exceptional durability, withstand extreme conditions, are waterproof, and pro-vide high levels of protection against impact, vibration, and rough handling.

GRP cases are available in bespoke sizes, allowing for tailor-made solutions that precisely accommodate the dimensions and specifications of specific parts or products.

However, GRP cases are typically more expensive than alternative packaging materials, making them best suited for low-volume applications or instances where the value or size of the items being transported warrants the investment in premium protection.

Summary

Sourcing heavy-duty cardboard boxes

If you are not already using heavy-duty cardboard boxes at your business, there may be significant benefits to doing so.

However, due to differences in protective performance, longevity, and cost, choosing the right packaging for your product may not always be straightforward.

At GWP, we are one of the largest independent designers and manufacturers of corrugated packaging. Although we have over 30 years of providing heavy-duty cardboard packaging to a wide range of businesses and industries, we also offer a range of alternatives.

So, besides allowing you to source Correx®, timber, foam, and other transit packaging, you can also rely on us to provide genuinely impartial advice on the optimum packaging for your specific application.

If you would like further information and advice on heavy-duty cardboard boxes and how to use them in your business, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Further reading

About the author

Ian Heskins

Ian Heskins

Business Development Director | GWP Group

Ian is one of the founding Directors of GWP, using his broad knowledge acquired over more than 30 years to oversee new business strategy
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