Food Engineering

Geometry drives content

January 1, 2011
Artfully folded paper is the essence of origami. Inventively folded cardboard is the essence of Smurfit-Stone Container Corp.’s Meta boxes.

Eight sides mean eight corners support more vertical compression with less fiber content for produce shippers like Santa Paula, CA-based Calavo Growers Inc.




Smurfit-Stone continues to expand its Meta-8 line of box-forming machines, with a case former as the latest addition. The machine addresses the growing retailer demand for display-ready cases, according to John Eaton, vice president of automated packaging systems, and it does it with the same precision folding that creates an eight-cornered box with greater vertical compression support despite less material. “We’re a corrugated company that does a lot of machine building,” explains Atlanta-based Eaton, though a quarter century of collaborations with machine-builders such as Douglas Machine were not well known until recent years, when the Meta technology started rolling out.

Engineered as a replacement for the regular slotted container (RSC), Meta boxes have a solid bottom and four diagonal columns on the inside wall, creating eight sides, or corners. The corners’ geometry dictates compressive strength, giving shippers the flexibility to match RSC’s strength while using 22 percent less fiber. If higher stacking is desired, a stronger box can be folded while still using less fiber than RSC.

The machines that form Meta boxes also fabricate conventional boxes and cases, though Meta’s advantages in shipping costs and product protection seemingly would make that flexibility redundant. The cases are formed from die-cut blanks that ship flat, compared to RSC-KD boxes which are formed and glued by the corrugated box manufacturer.

For more information:
John Eaton, Smurfit-Stone, 678-471-7591, jeaton@smurfit.com