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What Is Paperboard?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Paperboard is a thick material made in the same manner as typical paper, but the final product is generally thicker than paper used for writing or printing. Some people refer to paperboard as cardboard, though many types of cardboard exist and not all fit the description of paperboard. This material is often used in industrial applications, primarily for shipping purposes, though it can be used for other applications including book printing, sign printing, packing, packaging, and so on. The thicknesses of this paper can vary, though many regions of the world have certain thickness specifications that must be met.

The thickness and style of paperboard can vary significantly depending on its intended application. Low grades of this material can be made from recycled materials and used for shipping purposes; some types of the material are designed specifically to be folded into shapes to create containers or boxes. Other types of paperboard may be higher quality, colored, textured, or otherwise altered to improve aesthetics and functionality. If the material is to be used for bookbinding, it is usually a higher quality paper with few, if any, blemishes or imperfections. The surface of the material will usually be printed on, so it must be treated in some way to accept the ink.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

Paperboard is very often used in packaging of goods for sale. The packaging can be highly customized, since this material is very easy to manipulate, cut, alter, and color. Generally speaking, the material is also fairly inexpensive, making it a wise choice for businesses looking for attractive packaging at a low cost. It is disposable as well, and can be recycled. Materials reclaimed through recycling can be used again as a lower grade of paperboard used for other purposes besides packaging, though some companies will use recycled materials for packaging to reduce waste and even create a marketing point for some products. Many customers like to see an environmentally conscious business, so advertising the packaging as "green" packaging can help the company build its image.

This material can be single- or multi-ply. This means the board can be made from one layer of material or many. One-ply material will tear more easily and will not fold as well as multi-ply materials, though single-ply materials will generally be less expensive. If the board is to be folded or creased in any way, multi-ply is generally the better choice.

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