<img src="https://www.webtraxs.com/webtraxs.php?id=wt-45a3a36f-6138-483d-9a15-6618eb21e81c&amp;st=img" alt="">
Insights: Articles & Resources by Oliver Inc.


Folding Cartons for Pharmaceutical Products: What You Need to Know

From protecting your products against environmental factors to their customization capabilities, pharmaceutical folding cartons are an unrivaled packaging solution for brands that prioritize sustainability, security, and cost-effectiveness.

    6 minute read

Developing efficacious and safe pharmaceuticals is an incredibly expensive endeavor, but don’t let their costly research and development lead you to overlooking the importance of well-crafted packaging. Without smart packaging design, your products will expire on the shelves and in warehouses. 

When it comes to pharma packaging, folding cartons are centerpiece performers. 

From protecting your products against moisture, light, contamination, breakage, and other environmental factors that may affect their quality and safety to customization capabilities, folding cartons are an unrivaled packaging solution for brands that prioritize sustainability, security, and cost-effectiveness. 

Let’s unpack some of the layers that go into savvy pharmaceutical folding carton design.

What Are Pharmaceutical Folding Cartons?

A pharmaceutical folding carton, which can also be referred to as a box, is a type of packaging made from paperboard that is folded and sealed to contain your products. Folding cartons serve as the initial layer of protection and serve as vital marketing space. They safeguard your products, convey their purpose, and attract consumers.

Failing to utilize them effectively means missing opportunities to ensure the quality of your products and enhance your brand. Considering the significant responsibilities of folding cartons, the process involved in creating them must be flawless.

An ideal packaging partner demonstrates innovation at every stage of the pharmaceutical folding carton printing process, starting from the initial design to structural considerations, and concluding with the application of decorative effects and finishes. You have specific objectives in mind, and your packaging partner should assist you in achieving them.

Paperboard Provides Endless Possibilities for Pharmaceutical Cartons

When it comes to choosing the right materials for pharmaceutical folding cartons, paperboard steals the spotlight. Available in a spectrum of thicknesses and grades, and tailored well to suit your pharmaceutical branding needs, folding cartons are a customizable mainstay.

Paperboard is a type of fiberboard that can be folded or creased without breaking, and has a smooth and glossy surface, making it ideal for printing in the pharmaceutical industry.

Paperboard Varieties

Paperboard for pharmaceutical products is mainly made of cellulose fiber from trees (virgin stock) or recycled paper products (recycled fibers). Thicker than paper, it’s usually more than 10-point or 12-point, which means 10 or 12 thousandths of an inch measured by a caliper.

Several different kinds of paperboard are utilized in pharmaceutical cartons:

  • SBS - Solid Bleached Sulfate
  • CUK - Coated Unbleached Kraft
  • CNK - Coated Natural Kraft
  • SUS - Solid Unbleached Sulfate
  • CRB - Coated Recycled Board
  • CCNB - Clay Coated News Back 
  • URB - Uncoated Recycled Board
  • TMP - Thermal Mechanical Pulp

There are also specialty paperboards that have silver Mylar, rainbow holographics, or patterned foils laminated on them. Specialty paperboards are designed to further enhance the appearance, function, or environmental impact of the carton. That's why it's important to ask your manufacturing partner the right questions before designing, so you can get the pharmaceutical folding carton you want. 

Grain Direction

Grain refers to the way the fibers in paperboard line up in the same direction as the movement of the paper or board machine. You can get a better score by creasing across rather than along the grain. Knowing the grain direction helps you plan and lay out the job before producing it.

Paperboard Stiffness

Stiffness is one of the most important properties of paperboard, because it affects how well cartons can run through the machine that sets up, fills, and closes them. Stiffness also provides strength and prevents cartons from bulging under the weight of contents that can settle or flow.

Decorative Effects You Need to Know for Pharmaceutical Cartons

Folding cartons offer pharmaceutical brands an abundance of decorative design options to help your products stand out on the retail shelf. 

Embossing creates a raised or indented surface, adding texture and dimension to the design. It can be used to highlight your logo, product name, or other important information. 

Foil stamping applies a thin layer of metallic foil, creating a shiny and eye-catching appearance. It can be used to accentuate your brand name, product features, or other details that need to stand out on the folding carton. 

Soft touch coating gives the carton a smooth and velvety feel, enhancing the tactile experience of the product. It can also provide some protection against scuffing and fingerprints.

Spot UV coating applies a glossy varnish to specific areas, creating a contrast with matte backgrounds. 

Metallic inks contain metallic particles, giving the carton a lustrous and vibrant color. Visually not unlike foil stamping, metallic inks can be used to create a striking visual impact and differentiate your products from competitors. 

Tamper evidence adds a feature that indicates if a carton has been opened or tampered with, such as a perforated tear strip, a seal label, or a glue dot. Alongside other anti-counterfeiting packaging, it can help ensure the safety and integrity of your product (and your brand).

Blister carding attaches a plastic blister that contains your product within the carton, creating a convenient and secure packaging. It can also provide some protection against moisture, light, and oxygen for the product, as well.

Streamlining the Folding Carton Design Process

Packaging design plays a pivotal role in captivating consumers and differentiating products on store shelves. Renowned for its expertise in folding carton design, Oliver employs a systematic process that maximizes efficiency and creativity—with you at the center. 

Plus, we do it based on sustainable packaging design principles

The process commences with thorough research and ideation. Oliver's design team delves into market trends, competitor analysis, and target audience preferences. Armed with this knowledge, we brainstorm and sketch multiple concepts to generate innovative ideas that align with your goals.

Next comes the structural design phase. Utilizing cutting-edge software and our more than 250 years of combined experience, Oliver's experts create 3D models and prototypes. This step enables you to visualize your packaging and make informed decisions regarding the structure, size, and functionality of the pharmaceutical folding carton.

Once the structural design is finalized, the focus shifts to graphic design. Oliver's talented designers leverage creativity to craft captivating visuals, incorporating brand elements, typography, imagery, and color schemes (utilizing extended gamut printing). We consider your brand identity and market positioning, ensuring the packaging resonates with your intended target audience.

After meticulous design refinements, the approved artwork moves into production. Our state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities employ advanced printing and finishing techniques (traditional and digital) to bring your pharmaceutical carton design to life. The team ensures precision and attention to detail throughout the production process, delivering high-quality packaging that exceeds expectations.

By combining in-depth research, expert structural design, and compelling decorative graphics, our process generates packaging that elevates brand visibility and boosts sales. Additionally, our human-centric approach also ensures a streamlined workflow that works for you and your consumers, reducing time-to-market and enhancing overall efficiency.

Oliver offers pharmaceutical brands a one-stop solution for folding carton design, from the earliest discovery conversations and ideating your design, to proofing and production. Oliver focuses on the human aspect of design and stays with you throughout the entire process. 

Oliver is an industry leader in sustainable packaging for pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, food and beverage, cannabis, and health and beauty brands. Contact us today to learn more about how folding carton solutions can elevate your brand. 

Next Up: Related Reading

Printing & Packaging Certifications: What You Need to Know

Industry-leading printing and packaging manufacturers are ISO, Safe Quality Food, G7 Master, GMI-Prime, Pantone, FSC, SFI, and PEFC certified.

Read Now

Important Trends in Pharmaceutical Labeling & Packaging

Anti-counterfeiting, sustainability, new decorative effects, and extended gamut printing are innovative trends in labeling and packaging among national pharmaceutical brands.

Read Now

Packaging Design Ideas for Luxury Food Brands

Decorative effects for your packaging such as foil stamping and embossing, combined with the right material choices, can help position your food and beverage products as luxury items.

Read Now