Providing worldwide interlaboratory testing since 1971


CTS Containerboard Program History

Outside of the industry, nobody thinks about corrugated boxes – that is, nobody does until a new LCD TV is damaged by a structural failure of its box or a product sits on the shelf because it is surrounded by more attractively packaged competitors. Boxes: an everyday item that must perform to incredibly tight tolerances to be effective. The containerboard industry has worked to address such quality and performance issues through standards and testing. For nearly 50 years, the Containerboard Interlaboratory Program has been involved in this industry-wide effort.

The roots of the modern Containerboard Interlaboratory Program are directly traced to the Collaborative Reference Program (CRP) for Linerboard first conducted in October 1969. The first formal, nationwide program was administered by the National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST). The joint government industry program was sponsored by the Fourdrinier Kraft Board Institute (FKI) with the cooperation of the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI). This initial work focused solely on Bursting Strength testing on kraft linerboard – work that has continued uninterrupted in the interceding years. (For the curious, a Burst Strength of 117psi was the first collaborative mean on the 42lb. linerboard in October 1969.) A companion program for corrugating medium flat crush strength was initiated by the same groups (NBS, FKI and TAPPI) in May 1973. The two separate programs were united after 3 years.

The program and the involved organizations evolved continuously as the industry’s needs changed. Although the personnel operating the program had not changed, by June 1976 CTS was formally operating the Containerboard program. FKI became FKBG and then CKPG (the Fourdrinier Kraft Board Group and the Containerboard and Kraft Paper Group, respectively, of the American Paper Institute, or API). Ring Crush testing on linerboard was originally initiated in CTS’ separate Paper & Paperboard Program in 1975. After the Ring Crush test was moved to the long-standing Containerboard CRP in 1983, another major addition to the program followed quickly: in July 1984, Short Span Compression (STFI) was added for both linerboard and medium.

As stated above (and unique among the CTS programs), the Containerboard Program was designed as a collaborative reference program: linerboard and corrugating medium are taken from one lot, randomized, and sealed at one time for repeated distribution. Even from the first study in 1969, the CRP has been designed to provide laboratories with weekly testing samples. But within the industry there was a demand for adding materials that were impractical to supply on a weekly basis or for properties that did not require weekly monitoring. These materials, including corrugated board and boxes, and properties, such as coefficient of friction and porosity, were originally added to the Paper and Paperboard Program, like Ring Crush was years earlier. And, similar to the events of 1983, the movement of Edge Crush Testing (ECT) into the Containerboard Program spurred a period of evolution in the program. Between 2000 and 2004 ECT, Box Compression, Stylus Smoothness, Coefficient of Friction Porosity and Internal Bond Strength were added. In 2006, these tests were grouped into the Monthly Program run concurrently with the traditional Weekly Program. Also during this time, Corrugated Fluted crush (CFC) was added as a weekly test.

Over time industry sponsorship turned to affiliation, with industry providing technical guidance instead of monetary support. Many different industry groups have provided technical input through the years, including the aforementioned FKI, FKBG, CKPG, and TAPPI (through the Containerboard Division and the FISCOTEC committee), as well as the Fiber Box Association (FBA) and the Association of Independent Corrugated Converters (AICC). The cooperative effort continues with the Containerboard Program providing feedback to industry standards writing groups on the effectiveness of their standards in real laboratories.
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