There’s More In A Cardboard Box Than What Goes In The Cardboard Box

The cardboard box is ubiquitous in our society. We all know what makes up a cardboard box: corrugated paper products, glue, and some work. Of course cardboard boxes didn’t just show up one day, delivered out of nowhere by an overworked and underpaid driver. In the video below the break, [New Mind] does a deep dive into the history of the cardboard box and much more.

Starting back in the 19th century, advancements in the bulk processing of wood into pulp made paper inexpensive. From there, cardboard started to take its corrugated shape. Numerous advancements around Europe and the US happened somewhat independently of each other, and by 1906 a conglomerate was formed to get the railroads to approve cardboard for use on cargo trains.

By then though, cardboard was still in its infancy. Further advancements in design, manufacturing, and efficiency have turned the seemingly low tech cardboard box into a high tech industry that’s heavy on automation and quality control. It’ll certainly be difficult to think of cardboard boxes the same.

There also numerous ways for a hacker to re-use cardboard, be it in template making, prototyping, model making, and more. Of course, corrugation isn’t just for paper. If corrugated plastic floats your boat, you might be interested in this boat that floats due to corrugated plastic.

14 thoughts on “There’s More In A Cardboard Box Than What Goes In The Cardboard Box

  1. As a youngster I worked in a cardboard making factory (cardboard making, cardboard cutting (the wooden templates with cutters are just work of arts) and offset printing) and that was the best working experience of my life. Now a CISO I’ll be ready to make a pause of few weeks to go back working at this factory, it was hard work but very interesting.

  2. There is so much more cardboard available to the home crafter today. As a child I had to fight for the ones in dress shirts (something pretty much completely gone, replaced by a few strategic bits of plastic) or cereal boxes. The sheer amount of stuff shipped to homes, and the packaging on every product — even with some movements away from that — means that there’s always cardboard to work with for prototypes, box forts, costumes, etc. etc.

  3. I have a 3 y.o. granddaughter. She spent hours over several months inside the cardboard box my son’s new grill was shipped in. It was a house, later a spaceship. She colored the inside with her markers and crayons, would retreat inside when she wanted quiet to look at books. She actually wore the box out playing in it.

    To their credit, the company that made the grill, printed windows and a door on the outside of the box.

    1. “She actually wore the box out playing in it.”

      yeah that’s my favorite thing about a cardboard box as a kid’s toy…after a month or two, no matter how much they love it, everyone has to admit that it’s been destroyed and we can throw it away :)

  4. My cat, Ms. Kitty, loves boxes. Every time I get a shipment from, she gets a new box to play in. There are always a few boxes on the floor in my condo for her to play in. I’ve tried connecting multiple boxes together with tunnels and ramps but she prefers just a plain box. She also likes to get into paper grocery bags.

    1. As far as i know, all cats love boxes. They rather sleep in a plain cardboard box than on a soft pillow. And they seem to prefer boxes that are a snug fit to curl up in. Must be something to do with feeling safer in a small enclosed space. Cats is weird ;)

    2. Samsung has/had some of their cardboard boxes (for monitors) designed so they can be converted into cat houses. I believe there are a few other companies that have don’t special addition packaging that converts to a cat condo.

      Maybe Ms Kitty would like you to get a new monitor.

  5. I use to work for a manufacture that makes the machines that make the corrugated. The process still amazes me and how many of these facilities are actually around us and how fast they can run.

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