Folding Carton Packaging2024-04-08T02:41:08-08:00

Folding Cartons (Unit Cartons)

“I have been designing and art directing for over 20 years and worked with many printers and you can’t ask for better service than Clear Print. And the product comes out so nice. I recommend Clear Print for all your printing and fulfillment needs. You guys are the awesomest!!!”
Linda B.

Bring us your product and we’ll design a folding carton or display to perfectly fit and provide a free CAD sample with your product inside.

We print with process colors as well as Pantone spot colors and metallic inks. Decorative options include foil, embossing, spot gloss UV, gloss, satin, and dull coatings, SoftTouch lamination, pearlescent finishes and more. Clear windows can be added to reveal the product inside.

Protect the environment with our green paperboards made with pulp from renewable and sustainable sources. Most are FSC Certified. Some are made almost entirely from Post-Consumer Waste (PCW) including natural Kraft board stock. Inks are vegetable-based.

With their outstanding record of on-time delivery and personal customer service, Clear Print has earned numerous industry awards and the trust of businesses across CA.

Based in Chatsworth, CA, Clear Print serves the Los Angeles County area and beyond from their 10,000 square-foot print production facility.

  • offset printing press

Key Benefits of Clear Print as a Folding Carton Supplier

  • 43+ Years of Expertise
  • #1 in Timely Delivery – never missed a fixed deadline such as a trade show or product launch in over 20 years
  • Award-Winning Printing Services – Excellence Accolades from the Printing Industries of America and Others
  • Unmatched Personal Customer Service
  • Innovative Sustainable Packaging Solutions
  • Local California production vs. relying on overseas folding carton manufacturers subject to supply chain disruptions and quality issues
  • Digital Printing and Offset Printing Capabilities – affordable quantities from a few hundred to millions

Advantages of Custom Folding Carton Packaging

advantages of custom folding carton packaging at Clear Print

There are compelling reasons why the paperboard folding carton has endured for 150 years and why folding carton usage is trending upward here in California and around the world.


In a world that’s increasingly conscious of its carbon footprint, folding carton packaging offers a greener alternative to plastic. It’s made from renewable resources, is fully recyclable, and is biodegradable. It’s as if Mother Nature herself gave it her stamp of approval.

A study on the recyclability of folding box board found that paper folding cartons can be recycled up to 25 times. Some common recycled paperboard options include natural kraft, clay coated kraft back (CCKB), clay coated news back (CCNB), and thermal coated pulp (TMP).

In addition, Clear Print uses vegetable-based inks wherever possible.

They also use the most appropriate print process (digital or offset) for every job to minimize waste. Digital printing means companies no longer need to warehouse big, expensive inventories that may go to waste. Instead, they can order smaller quantities as needed.

You can read more in this related article on the latest sustainable product packaging strategies.


Folding cartons are easy to customize into nearly any size and shape to fit any product. Plus, there are hundreds of styles of ready-made designs to choose from.

Structural Integrity

When properly designed, paperboard packaging is structurally sound and can survive the logistical demands of getting a product safely to the store shelf.

Carton Finishing Options

There are a wide range of print finishing options available to make products stand out on the shelf or in an ecommerce store.

Finishing Options for Folding Cartons


Overall  UV Coating

Soft Touch Lamination

Conventional Substrates


Raised Spot Gloss UV

Raised Foil

Unique Substrates


Dull or Gloss Lamination

Variable Data

Transparent Windows

Spot UV Coating



Unique Stuctural Design

You can read more details about each of the folding carton finishing options here.


Paperboard folding boxes are affordable. It’s no longer necessary to order tens of thousands of unit cartons to meet a budget. Digital printing, with its lack of plates and minimal waste, means it’s economically feasible to order small quantities as low as a few hundred pieces. As mentioned earlier, this helps companies keep their carton inventories low. It also makes it easy to quickly come to market with new products or new versions of an existing product.

Warehousing, Logistics, and Shipping

Folding cartons are easy to store since they remain flat until being filled with the product. This also keeps shipping costs down. Paperboard packaging is lightweight compared to glass and metal packaging.

Automatic or Manual Filling

Folding boxes can be designed for either manual or automated packaging lines.

Smart Packaging

Smart folding cartons are easy to implement with the use of QR codes, AR codes, and RFID tags. Consumers want additional information about ingredients, manufacturing methods, or how-to instructions and videos. With RFID, manufacturers track products and processes to improve quality and logistics.

Versioning (Variable Data)

Digitally printed folding cartons don’t require plates or makeready time for each new version. There are none of the additional costs associated with long-run offset printing. This means that it’s easy and economical to print as many versions of a carton as needed.

Versioning can be used for product variations such as location, flavor, size, quantity, colors, SKU, and so on.

Types of Standard Folding Cartons Printed by Clear Print

The size and shape of custom folding cartons can vary as much as a box designer’s imagination. Yet there is no need to start from scratch on every project. Below are eight basic structural designs that can be used and adjusted for almost any product application.

Keep in mind that this is just a basic sampling. There are hundreds of types of folding cartons available for any project. When in doubt, clients should begin any new carton design and printing project by talking with an experienced folding carton supplier like Clear Print.

basic types of folding cartons

Straight tuck end box

A straight tuck end box is a type of packaging commonly used for its simplicity and efficiency. It features a design where both the top and bottom flaps tuck into the box in the same direction, offering a clean, uniform look. This style is especially popular for retail products such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, vitamins, supplements, personal care products, and small consumer goods. Its straightforward assembly and ease of opening and closing make it a go-to choice for items that require both secure packaging and an attractive presentation.

Reverse tuck end box

A reverse tuck end box is distinguished by its top and bottom closures tucking in opposite directions, creating a secure yet easily accessible packaging solution. This design is often chosen for lightweight items, such as small electronics, personal care products, and food items, due to its balance of security and convenience. The reverse tuck mechanism allows for quick assembly and efficient use by both manufacturer and consumer.

Tuck top, snap lock bottom box

The tuck top, snap lock bottom box, also known as a 1-2-3 bottom box, combines a tuck top with a bottom that requires manual assembly but offers increased security. This design is often used for a variety of products, including cosmetics, toys, electronics, food, or other items that need more durable packaging. The snap lock bottom offers a stronger structure, making it suitable for slightly heavier items that need additional support and protection.

Tuck top, auto lock bottom box

A tuck top, auto lock bottom box features a top that tucks in for closure, while the bottom automatically locks into place for quick and easy assembly. This design is particularly favored for heavier items needing extra security, like bottles, jars, or heavier retail products. The auto lock bottom provides a sturdier base compared to straight and reverse tuck designs, ensuring the contents are well-protected. The bottom panels on this and the snap lock bottom box (above) typically have little or no graphics.

Tuck top, open bottom box

A tuck top, open bottom box is a simple design with a tuck closure at the top and an open bottom. It’s often used for lightweight, non-fragile items that require easy or frequent access, like stationery or candies. This box design, with a thumb notch on either side, allows for easy loading and is typically sealed with shrink wrap.

Box sleeves

Box sleeves are a type of packaging that slides over another box or product and acts as an additional layer of branding or information. Commonly used for enhancing the appearance of packaged goods like software, books, or cosmetics, sleeves allow for easy branding changes without altering the entire packaging.

Sealed end box

A sealed end box is designed with both ends glued or sealed permanently on automated high-speed sealing equipment. It provides a strong, durable package. This type of box is often used for heavier items, such as detergents, cereals, electronics, or hardware, due to its ability to withstand rough handling and shipping stresses.

Pillow packs

Pillow packs are distinctive for their pillow-like shape and are created from a single piece of material with curved edges. These packs are often used for small, lightweight items such as cosmetics, jewelry, personal care products, fast food, or promotional items. Their unique shape and aesthetic appeal make them a popular choice for gift packaging or special occasions. For optimum strength, pillow packs must be designed with a length substantially greater than the width.

Substrates Available for Paperboard Packaging

One of the primary benefits of folding carton packaging is the range of available paperboards.

SBS (Solid Bleached Sulfate) is a smooth, strong sheet that is white throughout. It can accept many types of finishes and has a good surface for printing.

Recycled boards include:

  • natural kraft
  • clay coated news back (CCNB)
  • clay coated kraft back (CCKB)
  • thermal coated pulp (TMP)
  • chipboard and
  • corrugated board also called micro-flute corrugated.

For heavier products, corrugated packaging can be used.

Clear Print’s Folding Carton Production Process

The first step in the buying process is to review the packaging project with the client.

If needed, Clear Print’s designer works with the client to determine the best structure and material for the product. Does it need manual or automatic filling? What about shipping requirements and other logistics?

Next comes the package design. This should reflect the aesthetic of the product and brand.

Next comes a determination of quantities and the best printing and print finishing processes.

Next, a timeline is laid out and proofs are submitted to the client for approval. Clear Print also provides a die cut CAD sample of the carton with your product enclosed for client approval.

Finally, the print production and fulfillment process begins.

Industries Served by Clear Print

Clear Print works with any industry that requires product packaging, whether its B2C or B2B. Below are a few:

  • cosmetics
  • health and beauty
  • haircare
  • skincare
  • personal care products
  • pharmaceutical
  • vitamins and supplements
  • paint manufacturers
  • chemical manufacturers

Where to Buy Custom Folding Cartons – Los Angeles County CA

Clear Print Chatsworth CA Los Angeles area

With an impressive 43+ years in the commercial printing business, Clear Print is the go-to choice for folding carton packaging. They’ve earned numerous printing awards from the Printing Industries of America (PIA) and other industry bodies, demonstrating their commitment to quality and excellence on behalf of their clients.

Furthermore, they’re known for their #1 on-time delivery record, which makes them a trusted, reliable partner. They operate from a spacious 10,000 square foot Los Angeles County production facility and prioritize personal customer service on every job.

Clear Print isn’t just about delivering top-notch products. They’re also committed to innovation and sustainability in their daily operations, from design through finishing and fulfillment.

Call Clear Print at 818-709-1220 to discuss your folding carton project. Or click the button below to send them details on your latest job and they’ll be in touch shortly to discuss the details.

request a quote

Areas Served by Clear Print

In addition to custom labels for cosmetics, we provide printing, graphic design, photography, copy writing, editing, marketing surveys, and website design for the following areas:

Beverly Hills
Canoga Park

Granada Hills

Los Angeles
North Hills

San Fernando Valley
Santa Clarita
Santa Monica
Sherman Oaks
Simi Valley

Studio City
Thousand Oaks

Van Nuys
West Hills
Westlake Village
Woodland Hills


Our printing and design building is located at 9025 Fullbright Avenue, Chatsworth CA, 91311.

Follow the map to get to our location or call us at (818) 709-1220.

Areas Served by Clear Print

In addition to cosmetics label design and printing, we provide printing, graphic design, photography, copy writing and editing, marketing surveys, and website design for the following areas in California:

Beverly Hills
Canoga Park
Granada Hills

Los Angeles
North Hills
San Fernando Valley
Santa Clarita
Santa Monica
Sherman Oaks
Simi Valley

Studio City
Thousand Oaks
Van Nuys
West Hills
Westlake Village
Woodland Hills

Directions to Clear Print

Our printing and design building is located at 9025 Fullbright Avenue, Chatsworth CA 91311. Follow the map to get to our location or call us at (818) 709-1220.

Clear Print is the epitome of service. They have saved the day for us so many times. Geoff and Blaine are first class. They are quick to answer any questions and to get me the best quote. They try to fit us in when we have urgent runs. They suggest the best way to print our job for the best price and quality. OMG Geoff even delivers things in person many times. I have been designing and art directing for over 20 years and worked with many printers and you can’t ask for better service than Clear Print. And the product comes out so nice. I recommend Clear Print for all your printing and fulfillment needs. You guys are the awesomest!!!

Linda Bigirindavyi

Read more Clear Print reviews here.

FAQs – Folding Carton Printing

Below are many frequently asked questions about folding cartons. Visit the FAQ page for more questions and answers on additional printing topics.

What is the minimum order for folding cartons?2023-04-17T17:21:06-08:00

Minimum quantities for folding cartons depend on many factors such as type of product you intend to package, paper or other substrate desired, inks, turnaround time desired, and print finishes.

Rest assured that our digital printing capability means we can produce very small quantities on many types of folding carton and other packaging jobs. And we can do them in surprisingly small quantities that make it affordable to every small business.

For the best answer, send us your folding carton specifications here or call us at 818-709-1220.

Are there stock size cartons available that save money on die preparation?2023-04-17T17:10:00-08:00

Yes, there are many standard sizes that don’t require purchase of a brand new custom die.

Also, our digital printing  capability means that you can get short-run quantities for a lot less than you might think.

To find out what’s available, call us at 818-709-1220.

If you have your carton specifications available, you can send them to us here.

Or you can send us your physical product and we’ll work with that to see what’s available.

Do you print corrugated boxes?2023-04-17T17:06:50-08:00

Yes, we print corrugated boxes along with a wide range of corrugated packaging and corrugated displays.

To get started, call 818-709-1220 so we can review your product. We can either work from your existing design files, or we can start from scratch.

If you’re designing new packaging, the best way to start is by sending us a sample of your product. We’ll design packaging to fit, using the most suitable fluted material for the product. Then we send you a physical prototype, including any inserts. We can also design your display if needed.

Do you offer warehousing or fulfillment services for folding carton inventory?2023-04-17T17:02:49-08:00

Yes, Clear Print can handle warehousing and fulfillment for folding carton inventory.  We can ship your folding cartons or any other packaging as needed to any location. Our fulfillment services are speedy, reliable and more affordable than you might think.

Call 818-709-1220 so we can discuss how we can take some of the load off your plate and give you some peace of mind with our fulfillment services.

Can I do press approvals in person?2023-04-17T16:59:28-08:00

Yes, you can arrange to do press approvals in person. Once we get your job in production, we’ll work with you to schedule a convenient time.

Call 818-709-1220 so we can discuss the nature of your product and any special requirements.

Or submit your folding carton specifications here to start the conversation.

Do you offer design services for packaging?2023-04-17T16:57:02-08:00

Yes, we offer complete design services for all our folding carton packaging and product displays.

Call 818-709-1220 so we can discuss the nature of your product and any special requirements.

Or submit your folding carton specifications here to start the conversation.

Can I get blank prototypes for a box design?2023-04-17T16:55:08-08:00

Yes, we create prototypes (also called mock-ups or dummies) for all new folding carton designs. If you’re in the design phase, the best way to get a prototype is to send us your product and we’ll design a custom carton to fit the product. If needed, we’ll also design a display to hold your packaged products.

If you already have a design file, you can send that to us and we’ll produce your prototype.

Call 818-709-1220 so we can discuss the nature of your product and any special requirements. Or use our Contact Us form to start the conversation.

How many types of folding cartons are there?2024-05-07T03:42:46-08:00

There are hundreds of types of folding cartons available, with more custom designs produced every day. Here is a list of some of the more widely-used folding cartons.

Straight Tuck-End Cartons: These cartons have tuck flaps on both the top and bottom, with the flaps folding in the same direction.

Reverse Tuck-End Cartons: Similar to straight tuck-end cartons, but the flaps fold in opposite directions, with the top flap tucking towards the back and the bottom flap tucking towards the front.

Tuck-Top Auto-Bottom Cartons (Crash-Lock Bottom Cartons): These cartons have a pre-glued auto-bottom that automatically locks into place during assembly, making them quick and easy to set up. The top features tuck-end flaps.

Tuck-Top Snap-Lock Bottom Cartons (1-2-3 Bottom Cartons): These cartons have bottom flaps that interlock to form a secure base, while the top flaps are designed as tuck-end closures.

Seal-End Cartons: These cartons are sealed using glue or adhesive on both the top and bottom, providing a more secure closure than tuck-end cartons.

Full Overlap Cartons: These cartons have flaps on the top and bottom that fully overlap, providing extra strength and protection.

Gable-Top Cartons: These cartons feature a pitched roof-like closure at the top that interlocks, commonly used for liquid packaging, such as milk or juice.

Pillow Boxes: These cartons have a curved design and are formed by folding and tucking the ends into themselves, often used for small items or gift packaging.

Sleeve Cartons: These cartons are open on both ends and slide over a product or an inner tray, offering additional branding or protection without completely enclosing the product.

Two-Piece Telescoping Cartons: These cartons consist of a separate base and lid that fit together snugly to form a complete carton.

Four-Corner Beers Tray (Four Corner Tray): This carton has a flat bottom with four corner flaps that lock into place, forming a tray that can hold lightweight items.

Six-Corner Beers Tray (Six Corner Tray): Similar to the four-corner tray, but with additional flaps on the long sides for added support and stability.

Roll-End Tuck-Top (RETT) Cartons: These cartons have a roll-end construction on the bottom and tuck flaps on the top, providing a secure and sturdy packaging option.

This list is far from exhaustive, as there are many variations and custom designs for folding cartons. The choice of carton style depends on factors such as the product’s size, weight, shape, and required protection, as well as branding and aesthetic considerations.

Reach out to us with your questions on how to pick the right folding carton for your product or product display.

Call 818-709-1220 for fastest response or use our Contact Us form.

How are folding cartons measured?2023-04-17T16:50:29-08:00

To correctly measure a box, place the box so the opening is facing up, as if you were going to fill the box. The front should face you.

1 – Measure left to right on the front = Length

2 – Measure front to back on side panels = Width

3 – Measure top to bottom inside the box = Depth

how to measure length width depth of a box (folding carton)

Confirm your measurements with Clear Print to be sure you’re using the correct dimensions.

How do I get a die line to use to create my box?2023-04-14T18:19:08-08:00

Get in touch with us at 818.709.1220 and we’ll supply you with the proper die line to help you lay out your folding carton design.

And if you prefer, we can handle the design work from beginning to end, including the proper die line.

Are folding cartons sustainable?2023-04-14T18:19:01-08:00

Yes, there are numerous sustainable substrates available including coated and uncoated recycled boards, sugarcane board, and hemp.

We also use soy and vegetable-based inks whenever possible for even more sustainability. They are just as effective and less expensive than petroleum based inks.

If you’re not sure about what sustainable material to use, or don’t know what’s available, get in touch with us at 818.709.1220 to discuss your project and ensure you’re using the right material for the job.

Can I use paper board packaging for any products?2023-04-14T18:18:55-08:00

Several factors affect the selection of material for a container.

  • Product weight and durability
  • Box filling method, manual or automated
  • End use and shelf life
  • Retail requirements
  • Paper board thickness
  • Grain direction. The strongest scores on a box go against the grain.
  • Paper board stiffness. Recycled papers have shorter grains and broken grains which make the board weaker.
  • FDA, FTC, and EPA each have regulations and guidelines for consumer products.

These factors are why it’s important to discuss a project during the design and planning phase.

If you’re not sure, get in touch with us at 818.709.1220 to discuss your project and ensure you’re using the right material for the job.

Or submit your job specs here and we’ll review them with you.

Can I mail or ship folding cartons without packing them in another box?2023-10-04T16:30:04-08:00

It depends. Typically, a folding carton with a product inside should be packaged inside a suitable shipping container such as a corrugated box. However, if the folding carton with product is small and lightweight, and meets USPS requirements, it will survive mailing.

Can folding cartons be used for food products?2023-04-14T17:54:26-08:00

Yes, you can use folding cartons for food as long as there is a layer of FDA-approved food contact material between the paper box and the food.

If you’re not sure, get in touch with us at 818.709.1220 to discuss your project and ensure you’re using the right material for the job.

Are there special design file requirements for paperboard folding cartons?2024-02-12T09:37:19-08:00

Yes, there are special design file requirements for paperboard folding cartons to ensure that the final product meets the desired specifications and quality. When designing folding cartons, it is essential to follow these guidelines:

File format: The preferred file formats for folding carton designs are vector-based files such as Adobe Illustrator (AI), Encapsulated PostScript (EPS), or Portable Document Format (PDF). These formats maintain the quality and scalability of the design elements without losing resolution.

Die line/template: If you don’t have a template, get the correct die line or template from Clear Print, as this will ensure that your design fits the carton’s specific dimensions and folding requirements. The die line should be placed on a separate layer within the design file and should not be modified.

Bleed and safety margins: Include a bleed area (typically a minimum of 1/8 inch or 3mm) that extends beyond the die line to account for minor cutting variations during production. Also, maintain a safety margin (usually 1/8 inch or 3mm) inside the die line, keeping critical design elements and text away from the edges to avoid trimming issues.

Resolution: For raster images (e.g., photographs) in a design, use a high resolution of at least 300 dpi at the final print size (100%) to ensure sharp and clear printing.

Color mode: Use the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key/Black) color mode for your design, as this is the standard color model used in the printing industry. Avoid using RGB colors, as they probably won’t reproduce accurately when printed.

Fonts and text: Convert all text to outlines or embed fonts in the design file to prevent font substitution issues during printing. Also, avoid using very small font sizes or intricate fonts, as they may not print clearly on the carton material.

Spot colors, coatings, and special finishes: If your design requires spot colors (Pantone colors) or special finishes (e.g., foil stamping, embossing, coatings, or varnishes), be sure to clearly indicate these in your design file and discuss them with us to ensure proper execution.

File submission: Before submitting your design file to Clear Print, double-check for accuracy and completeness, ensuring that all necessary elements are included. It’s also a good idea to provide a low-resolution PDF or JPG proof for reference.

By following these guidelines, you can be sure your paperboard folding carton design will be accurately produced and meet your desired quality standards.

For other design questions, review our File Preparation FAQs.

Or call us at 818.709.1220 to discuss your project and ensure it’s set up correctly.

What paper stocks are available for folding cartons?2024-02-12T09:37:19-08:00

There is a wide range of paper and other substrates available for folding cartons. Some substrates have unique requirements and/or limitations. So be sure to collaborate with your designer and printing company from the outset of a folding carton project.

SBS – Solid Bleached Sulfate, coated on one-side (C1S) or coated on two sides (C2S)

CUK – Coated Unbleached Kraft. No less than 80% virgin fiber.

CNK – Coated Natural Kraft, coated on one-side with a kraft back

Kraft Paper – Kraft paper is made from unbleached wood pulp, which gives it a natural brown color. It is strong, durable, and eco-friendly, making it a popular choice for folding cartons, especially in the food industry.

SUS – Solid Unbleached Sulfate, coated on one-side with a kraft back

CRB – Coated Recycled Board, coated on one-side (C1S) with a kraft back

CCNB – Clay Coated News Back will appear either tan or gray back (depending on the fiber used), clay coated front (C1S)

URB – Uncoated Recycled Board, uncoated on two sides

TMP – Thermal Mechanical Pulp, coated on one-side (C1S)

Specialty Papers – These materials include options such as metallic, pearlescent, textured, or embossed papers. They can add a unique touch to folding cartons and are often used for luxury packaging or special edition products.

Biodegradable and Compostable Materials – With increasing focus on sustainability, many manufacturers are now offering biodegradable and compostable materials for folding cartons. These materials are designed to break down more quickly in the environment, reducing waste and lessening the overall environmental impact.

Go here to get a quote on your current packagaing project and to discuss your paper options.

For more information of folding carton production and packaging, read the following articles:

Geoffrey Pick


Please call now to discuss your project.