How to Start Corrugated Box Manufacturing Business (Carton Box Making) – A Starters Guide Getting into Packing Business

Carton box, Corrugated Box, or Cardboard box – you name it, all were the same. They were the first packing materials of the industrial age, and still occupy a major share in the packing and shipping industry.

A corrugated box is a simple yet practical material that is used for packing different kinds of materials. It can be manufactured from scrap wood pulp or recycled paper making it an economical as well as eco-friendly material.

Due to their simple usage and cheap price, they were adopted by several businesses for packing purposes. Not only that, according to a report, the Global Corrugated box market is reported to grow from US $140 Billion in 2023 to US $ 213 Billion in 2033. According to American Forest and Paper Association, a paper-based product such as Cardboard is one of the most recycled materials in the United States

Market Scenario of Corrugated Boxes in India and How It Can Influence Your Business?

India is today one of the leading nations in the world with large global trade. It is also one leading nations in imports and exports. Items such as Pharmaceuticals, electronics, hardware equipment, Clothing and footwear, Paints, and Machinery are the nation’s top goods. Most of these items require corrugated boxes or carton boxes to pack and ship

In addition, India is also home to the highest e-commerce market. You will find big players like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Meesho, Bigbasket, etc. Every day such e-commerce companies sell millions of goods and most of them are packed using corrugated boxes or carton boxes

Next, the Agro and Poultry industries are the backbone of the Indian economy. Items such as Fruits, vegetables, and poultry supplies use carton boxes to pack and ship to market

With such a large market presence and ever-growing demand, starting a corrugated box manufacturing business is definitely an ideal one

Profit Margin in Corrugated Box Manufacturing

The profit margin in corrugated box manufacturing ranges between 5 – 10%. There are several factors that come into play when estimating the profit margin such as customer segment, the scale of your manufacturing unit, Type of production (automatic or Semi-automatic), etc.,

But one thing is sure, corrugated box manufacturing is definitely a profitable business with the right market analyses and a decent customer base a semi-automatic cardboard manufacturing unit can make a net profit of around 3-5 Lakhs in the initial stages

Steps Involved in Starting a Corrugated Box Manufacturing Unit

If you wish to start a carton box manufacturing unit then the following things need to be considered for the planning

Business Registration

The first step of starting cardboard box manufacturing starts with registering your company as per the government rules. You can register your company as Private Limited, Partnership or LLP, or Sole Proprietorship. You can take the help of a CA or Lawyer who can guide you in the company registration process

Market Analyses

India’s Packing industry is one of the largest and most competitive ones. There are several cardboard box making companies that have a strong market presence. In order to make a profit out of this business, careful market research is necessary.  You can reach out to a business consultant that can help you provide market research data and details of existing competitors and areas where you can focus on

There are also several corrugated box manufacturers associations in India such as FCBM , WICM, EICMA, and SICBMA that help you stay updated about the packing industry news

Obtaining Licenses

To set-up a cardboard manufacturing plant you require certain licenses and documents such as

  • Bank account
  • PAN Card
  • Factory license
  • GST Registration
  • Insurance

You may also need to check whether consent to operate certificate (CTO) from the Pollution control board is required or not. Most of the corrugated manufacturing units fall under the Green or White category and you need to pay a sum amount to renew the certificate after a stipulated time period

Investment for Corrugated Box Manufacturing

The amount required to set up corrugated box manufacturing business depends upon the scale of the production capacity

It is no surprise to know the initial capital required to start this business itself is very costly. The minimum investment required to set-up a small scale semi-automatic corrugated box manufacturing unit is 25 to 30 Lakhs

However, if you are planning to go for an automation grade, high production capacity corrugated manufacturing unit, then the investment can be around 1 – 2.5 crore

The majority of the carton box factory investment goes for machinery and paper material. In addition to that, you need to invest in building, maintenance, and salaries for workers

Preparing a Project Report for Corrugated Boxes Manufacturing

A detailed project report with all important information such as the manufacturing process, machinery, marketing, and financial details must be prepared in order to know the feasibility of starting a cardboard box production.

This report is very essential in the process of obtaining loans from banks and other financial institutions. With the help of the project report, you can estimate the chances of success of your corrugated box business in the market. It will also give you a better idea of the financial planning of your business

Location Requirement to Set up Corrugated Box Manufacturing Unit

A fully operating, high production capacity corrugated manufacturing unit requires at least 40000 sq. ft. whereas, a semi-automatic small scale unit requires around 3000-5000 sq. ft. of space

The location of the unit should be reachable to markets, industrial corridors as well as logistic hubs. It should also be well supplied with ample electricity for the machines to run smoothly. It is better to have three phase connection for the unit if your production capacity is high

In addition, having a generator connection is also essential to make sure there is no interruption in work. Although, heavy equipment might not work where there is a power cut, simple machinery such as stitching equipment, gluing, and cutting equipment will work with the generator power

Raw Material required for Corrugated Box Manufacturing

Different types of paper materials are used in the manufacturing of Corrugated boxes. Such as Kraft Paper, Fluting paper, Liners, and white board paper. Depending upon the customer’s preferences you need to decide which type of raw material is required for the manufacturing process.

There are two important terms one must be aware of in corrugated raw materials. They were…

GSM – Stands for Grams per square meter, which is the unit of measure for the thickness of the material. The more the GSM, the thicker the corrugated sheet

Ply Thickness – It is an important measurement in corrugated box manufacturing. The corrugated boxes were normally divided into 3ply, 5ply, 7 ply, and 9 ply. The unit of ply represents the strength of the corrugated box

For example, a 3 ply is used for packing lightweight items such as toys or clothes or electronic gadgets like mobiles. whereas, corrugated boxes with 7 and 9-ply are used to pack heavy-weight materials like refrigerators, metals, etc.

Different Paper Materials Used in Cardboard Manufacturing

A kraft paper is a recycled paper material that acts as the base material for carton box manufacturing. kraft papers are available in the market as large reels that are available in different sizes such as 75GSM, 100 GSM, 150GSM, 200 GSM, and 250 GSM

If the carton boxes are manufactured to bear heavy weight, high GSM kraft papers are chosen for manufacturing

In addition to kraft paper, you also need fluting paper which is the most important raw material required for cardboard box manufacturing. A fluting paper acts as a middle liner of a corrugated box and works as protective packaging providing cushion support to the package. Fluting paper is generally sold in big-sized rolls that weigh about 1 ton and are available in 80-250 GSM

Liner paper also sometimes referred to as Test liner is more or less similar to kraft paper but with more features. Liner paper is processed in such a way that it can withstand high tensile strength and is perfect for applying labels. Liner paper rolls are available on the market with 30 GSM to 300 GSM

Box board paper also known as Folding Box Board are especially used for packing beauty products, cakes and confectioneries, Pharmaceuticals, packed foods, and pizza boxes, etc., these types of paper are available in 80 to 400 GSM

Those are the several types of raw materials used in cardboard box production. One should also note that, before manufacturing, the raw materials to be used in the production process are to be set according to customer requirements

Where to Purchase Corrugated Raw Materials?

Purchasing corrugated raw materials in bulk quantity is more economical than purchasing them on-demand bases. The raw material is usually sold on B2B websites such as Indiamart, exportersindia, and Tradeindia or you can purchase them directly from the paper mill

Purchasing raw materials directly from paper mills is more economical and you have the flexibility to inspect the material thoroughly

Corrugated Box Making Machines

A Cardboard box production involves various types of machines that perform different functions such as fluting, cutting, sheeting, pasting, printing, punching, and creasing. To perform such functions several machineries are required. On average, a full set-up of automatic corrugated box machinery set-up cost around 50 lakhs

Carton box-making machines are available in Manual, Semi-automatic, and Automatic models

a Manual corrugated box machine is usually economical and tends to have low output. This machine is suitable for performing creasing and die cutting and is best suited for small businesses. A manual corrugated box making machine plant costs around 9 – 12 Lakhs

Semi-Automatic and Automatic Corrugated Box Machinery Details

For businesses that are looking to serve large customers and would like to have a high production capacity, or manufacture customized corrugated boxes then, they need to know about the following machinery

Corrugation Machine TypeUsesPriceOut put
Vertical Corrugation MachineMore efficient than Vertical corrugated machine. Used to convert kraft paper into 2-ply rolls6 Lakhs – 9 Lakhs~50 – 80 RFT/min
Oblique Corrugated MachineAn advanced corrugated machine that has a feature to run two flutes without changing the flute rolls. Most models come with PLC system that can be operated with a touch of a button8 – 15 Lakhs~40Mt/Min
Double Profile Corrugation MachineMost advanced of all types of corrugated machines. The fluted paper in this machine is guided by suction and has better gum application than rest of the machines. Brass adaptor marks are negligible, high compression strength and bursting factor15 – 20 Lakhs~100 – 120 RFT
Fingerless corrugation machineMost advanced of all types of corrugated machines. The fluted paper in this machine is guided by suction and has better gum application than the rest of the machines. Brass adaptor marks are negligible, high compression strength and bursting factor10  – 15 Lakhs~ 50 – 120 ft/min
Carton Box Making Machines with Details

In addition to the above mentioned machinery, a cardboard manufacturing plant also requires several tools to support the manufacturing process such as…

  • Flexo Printing Machine – Used to print ink on cardboard
  • Sheet Pasting Machine – used for application of glue to the fluted side of the cardboard/liners
  • Corrugated sheet cutting machine – Most essential equipment in corrugated box production. It comes in semi-automatic and manual models. Used to cut the corrugated sheets as per the required size 
  • Die-cutting machine – known to be expensive equipment of for cardboard box production, a die-cutting machine creates a shape and foldability for the corrugated sheets.
  • Box stitching machine – This equipment helps in pinning corrugated boards. It comes in angular and straight models.

Hiring Workers

The workforce required to operate a corrugated box manufacturing business depends upon the scale of your production capacity. A small-scale corrugated unit requires at least 5 workers

However, if your unit has a high production capacity and uses all kinds of machinery, then it’s better to have at least 7 workers. Having at least one skilled worker such as an ITI-Diploma holder can be beneficial as they can act as a supervisor as well as a troubleshooter for the unit

Basic training programs on operating the machinery will be taught by the equipment vendor itself so you do not have to worry about training the workers

Steps Involved in Corrugated Boxes Manufacturing

As mentioned earlier, corrugated box manufacturing involves a series of steps that are carried out by various machines to finally produce the corrugated boxes or sheets. Here are the steps involved in Cardboard box production using a semi-automatic process

  1. First, the corrugated paper sheet is cut into a specific size as per customer requirement  using a cutting machine
  2. Later the sheet is fed into the pasting machine. This machine applies glue with hard pressure on the sheet so that it retains a sicky nature
  3. Then, depending on the requirement additional ply sheets will be attached to the first sheet.
  4. These stacked sheets are fed into corrugation machines such as  Vertical Corrugation Machine or Oblique Corrugated Machines – This will apply heavy pressure on the sheets converting them into 2PLY or 3ply or 5 Ply thickness sheets
  5. Once the corrugated sheet is ready it will be transferred to the flexo printing machine which will add label/ink on to the sheet
  6. Once the corrugated sheet is almost ready it is stapled using a pin machine. This gives the corrugated box firmness and shape. Which then later can be folded
  7. Finally, the corrugated box is tested using weight-bearing machine to check its strength to hold a package
  8. Once the corrugated box passes the test, it will be finally shipped to the customer


India already has a large number of corrugated box manufacturers in every state. However, the demand and supply still have space to accommodate new businesses, hence you do not have to worry about competition in the market.

But you need to put a lot of effort to make sure your stock is getting sold monthly. In order for that, you need to ensure high-quality material is used in manufacturing, You should be able to supply the stock within the time

You also need to reach out to various customers from time to time to get new deals. Try focusing on Food and Beverage companies, Pharmaceutical, logistic companies, footwear, supermarkets, etc.,

In addition, utilize social media platforms to market and your product, list your manufacturing unit in Google Business so that customers can find your manufacturing unit in Google Maps. Take advantage of B2B Platforms such as Indiamart, Trade India, and such to sell bulk orders


There is a huge scope for the growth of the corrugated boxes industry in India. Today the nation is growing at an unprecedented scale. There are a lot of new businesses coming up every day in India creating a market demand for corrugated material. With the use of advanced technology, market research, and USP one can definitely make great profits in this industry.

But you should also know that the cost of setting up this business is high, and profit margins are very less in the initial stages. You should try your best efforts to get a maximum number of clients and make sure to deliver them with the utmost quality product within the agreed timeline. Please also keep updated with the market trends, attended conferences, and maintain connections with other corrugated manufacturers

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