Carton converting in India – looking for the wow factor!

Finishing and converting cartons is becoming more interesting

Consumer product manufacturers want the same shelf impact for a coffee-maker or a pressure cooker carton as they see on the luxury cartons for personal care and cosmetics. Photo PSA

The product mix for cartons has changed in the past two years with an increase in litho-laminated cartons. Litho-laminated cartons are generally an offset printed packaging board that is pasted on an E- or F-flute (micro-flute) corrugated sheet and then die-cut and creased on a diecutter and put through a folder gluer for making the boxes. Since the majority of monocarton converters in the country operate within the B1 format (102-106 cm or 40-inches), for slightly larger white goods consumer products, this could also mean that the final carton is made of two pieces.

Consumer product manufacturers are asking for more litho-laminated cartons than before. Moreover, they want the same shelf impact for a coffee-maker or a pressure cooker carton as they see on the luxury cartons for personal care and cosmetics. The glittering and haptic effects of metallics and foils, the texture of varnishes, and even embossing effects are now considered desirable for more or all consumer products.

The internal fitments of the packaging have to be provided for the product to withstand the logistics of warehousing logistics and eCommerce last-mile delivery. In addition, machine-readable product identification is needed for pick and place in the warehouse and inventory control. In the case of some product cartons, pilfer proofing may also be required – since the value lost in case of theft is not just of the product but also of the excise taxes paid.

Consumer product manufacturers want the same shelf impact for a coffee-maker or a pressure cooker carton as they see on the luxury cartons for personal care and cosmetics. Photo PSA

There is also the shift to paper for food service products and packaging to avoid the use of plastic and to be compliant with the ban on the use of select single-use plastic items. While many converters are purchasing coated boards with moisture barriers, others are developing their own products using offline pasting and coating machines. For many other consumer products, the combination of paperboard and plastic is likely to shift to a paperboard with specially shaped board and paper fitments inside.

Thus the old formula of one multicolor press, two autoplaten die-cutters, and one folder has become more complex. The number of die-cutters and folders is increasing at a slightly higher rate than the earlier ratio because litho-laminated packaging takes much more space not only as work in progress but also on the feeder board of a die-cutter or folder-gluer. The change has also come because of the affordability of higher quality Asian and Indian-made die-cutters and folder-gluers with a high level of local service commitment.

In the modern carton-making plant, there is an increasing proliferation of several finishing equipment, earlier considered luxuries. Corrugated pasting machines or automatic lamination have become an essential requirement. Offline coaters in addition to the inline coaters are also useful for special coatings at times.

A number of hot foil stamping and embossing machines, and blanking machines, are being added to the shop floors of even the mid-level carton producers. Single-color gravure presses for adding gold and silver are being imported by even newcomers to the carton business. Paper and board pasting machines are also essential. In the case of suppliers to the food service industry, tray forming equipment is also needed.

The variety of cartons required by what was earlier a simple monocarton (solid board or folding box board) printer and converter has grown and become more complex. The complexity will continue to increase especially when track and trace elements such as RFID antennae and various types of holograms are added or embedded in the packaging. 

It reminds one of the complexities of a modern bookbinding facility where there are a large number of special machines for round case making, cornering, gilding, embossing, perforation, and other pieces of decoration that are meant only for specific products. At one time these were considered frills and cost centers.

Perhaps with the currently growing demand scenario for packaging, this ancillary equipment will become essential. Hopefully, as the value add machines become more capable and automated, they will point the way to more interesting, active, intelligent packaging. Even new shapes and creative cartons with more wow factor.

The impact, resilience, and growth of responsible packaging in a wide region are daily chronicled by Packaging South Asia.

A multi-channel B2B publication and digital platform such as Packaging South Asia is always aware of the prospect of new beginnings and renewal. Its 16-year-old print monthly, based in New Delhi, India has demonstrated its commitment to progress and growth. The Indian and Asian packaging industries have shown resilience in the face of ongoing challenges over the past three years.

As we present our publishing plan for 2023, India’s real GDP growth for the financial year ending 31 March 2023 will reach 6.3%. Packaging industry growth has exceeded GDP growth even when allowing for inflation in the past three years.

The capacity for flexible film manufacturing in India increased by 33% over the past three years. With orders in place, we expect another 33% capacity addition from 2023 to 2025. Capacities in monocartons, corrugation, aseptic liquid packaging, and labels have grown similarly. The numbers are positive for most of the economies in the region – our platform increasingly reaches and influences these.

Even given the disruptions of supply chains, raw material prices, and the challenge of responsible and sustainable packaging, packaging in all its creative forms and purposes has significant headroom to grow in India and Asia. Our context and coverage engulf the entire packaging supply chain – from concept to shelf and further – to waste collection and recycling. We target brand owners, product managers, raw material suppliers, packaging designers and converters, and recyclers.

In an admittedly fragmented and textured terrain, this is the right time to plan your participation and marketing support communication – in our impactful and highly targeted business platform. Tell us what you need. Speak and write to our editorial and advertising teams! For advertisement , for editorial and for subscriptions

– Naresh Khanna

Subscribe Now
Previous articleFosber Asia to discuss corrugated lines at IndiaCorr Expo 2022
Next articleSaperatec, Wentus and Henkel to debut circular packaging at K
Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here