In the packaging and printing industry, there are a variety of different grades of paper that are used for different applications. Each grade has its own unique set of characteristics that make it ideal for a specific purpose. It can sometimes be confusing to know where to start and what to choose for a specific project.
In this article we discuss the four most common grades of paper used in packaging and what makes them different.
What is paper grade?
While it might look and sound like a foreign language, paper grades are more familiar than you may think. Cereal boxes, for example, feel quite different than packaged cosmetic items. The difference is the paper grade of each package.
Paper grades are simply a way of classifying paper based on its physical characteristics and intended use. They identify characteristics like durability and thickness.
Types of paper grade
The main types of paper grades are offset or uncoated, cover, text, and paperboard. Each type of paper has unique properties that make it more suitable for specific applications.
For example, bond paper is typically used for letterhead and other stationery because it is smooth and has a high opacity. Cover paper, on the other hand, is more durable and thicker. It’s ideal for book covers and postcards.
Paperboard is the heaviest and stiffest type of paper grade, making it suitable for packaging applications. Understanding the different types of paper grades can help you choose the right paper for your next project.
Common types of paper grade for packaging
The best way to understand paper grades is to look at the grams per square (GSM) or point unit (PT). The higher the number, the thicker the paper. This is essential when choosing a paper grade for packaging because it identifies how durable and how much weight each material can hold.
Clay coated news backboard (CCNB)
CCNB is the go-to for affordable packaging and is often used in packaging dry products like pasta or dog food. It’s made from a mix of recycled corrugated containers and newspaper.
While it is cost-effective, CCNB has low durability and will absorb moisture when it comes into contact with liquids. Still, it’s a good choice for folding cartons of low-weight items.
Folding box board (FBB)
FBB is mechanically and chemically made multi-ply pulp material and bleached. Because of the layers, it has great durability and strength. Since it is strong, durable, and bleached, FBB is commonly used in packaging items like pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
Solid bleached sulfate board (SBS)
Much like FBB, SBS materials are chemically created and bleached. The pulp used in SBS is formed into boxes and cartons, leaving behind a stark white background inside and outside.
Because of this, SBS is the perfect paper grade for printing labels and product branding. Beyond specialty printing, the durability of SBS makes it a good candidate for other specialties like die-cutting.
SBS is used for packaging in nearly every industry, including personal care, tobacco, and lux cosmetics.
Natural kraft or coated unbleached kraft (SUS/CUK)
Kraft packaging is created entirely from recycled materials yet boasts high durability and the option to include high-quality printing.
SUS and CUK paper grades are used for items like beverage carriers and even the automotive and construction industries.
Because it is constructed of recycled materials, it can be the best choice if you’re looking for a more eco-friendly packaging option.
Choose the right paper grade with Ritter’s Printing & Packaging
Ritter’s Printing & Packaging team has provided high-quality printing, labeling, and packaging services since 1988. Call us at 954-771-7204 or visit us online to see what we can create together to give you the perfect label and package design.