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Packaging - Glossary - C

  • Packaging Processes

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    The Glossary of the International Trade Centre (ITC) on the technical terms used in the packaging sector is a database designed to provide updated information on the specific terminology used in the packaging industry. This Glossary is a tool placed at the disposal of users for information only. It is not designed to replace the appropriate professional advice in any way. Users are invited to submit their comments and observations by email to Mr. Frederic Couty, Senior Adviser, Export Packaging at the following email address: fcouty[at]intracen.org

    Select an alphabetic above to access the glossary.

  • C


    A series or “stack” of rollers through which a web of material is passed under controlled conditions of temperature, pressure and time in order to control the thickness or enhance the surface finish of the material.


    In paper and paperboard, its thickness in microns.


    White cotton fabric, closely woven, fine soft or with little sizing, calendered with a slight gloss on one side.


    (1) (Noun) A rigid container usually  made from steel, tinplate and/or aluminium, generally cylindrical and of less than ten litres capacity;

    (2) (Verb) To pack a product in a can.

    Can, fibre or fibreboard

    A rigid container made mostly of paper fibre and lined, treated, or coated. Ends  are of  paperboard, metal or plastic. The body may be spirally or convolutely wound, and laminated from an ap­propriate number of paper, plastic film and/or foil plies; it may be round, oval, square or rectangular.  (see also composite can).


    A rigid container, generally round or rectangular, made of paper fibre, metal, plastic or combina­tions thereof, designed to pack or store dry products and hav­ing a replaceable cap, cover  or sprinkler closure (see also composite can).

    Can, sanitary

    A metal can with fully open aperture ends, designed for thermal processing. Supplied with a double seamed-on bottom end applied by the canmaker. The cover/second end is double seamed in place by the canner after filling; the rims of both ends are gasket or compound lined to ensure hermetic sealing.


    A closure which fits over a container neck or opening rather than into it. A cap may have internal threads to engage the external threads of the container or may be held in place by friction, air pressure, heat sealing, etc.


    A small gelatin container either hard or soft, generally used to package pharmaceutical liquids or powders in unit doses.

    Capsule closure

    A foil, plastic film  or cellulose shroud wrapped or shrunk over the cap or cork and the neck of a glass or plastic  container, typically for wines, to decorate and to resist  tampering or accidental loosening.


    A container usually made of glass, but which can also be made of metal, ceramic, stoneware or plastics. When used as a shipping container, it is encased in a protective outer container made of wood or wicker with a lining of straw or more sophisticated cushioning materials.


    Flat, stiff piece of paper or paperboard used as a stiffener or backing sheet in packaging applications


    Term erroneously used as a synonym for paperboard. Not a recognized term for packaging materials.


    A package generally used for multiple packaging of cans, bottles and other unit containers, and  incorporating a handle or other  means of carrying. (1) Basket style - a multiple cell, open top container generally used for bottles and incorporating a central handle device. (2)Wrap-around—Stretched or shrunk plastic film material wrapped round several cans, cartons, or bottles, often with a handle feature.


    Accepted as designation for folding paperboard cartons. To avoid confusion the term carton should however not be used alone.

    In some countries carton is used to designate paperboard as a material.


    A case, capsule, shell, or bag made of various materials, as a container for insertion into a dispensing unit. Sometimes used to describe a unit pack where the  container is used to assist in dispensing the contents.


    A shipping container made from corrugated board, wood, plastic or other material. See also: Box, Crate.


    A protein obtained from milk. Used to make sizings, adhesive solutions and coatings for paperboard. Casein adhesives are widely used in the manufac­ture of paper containers.

    Casing, food

    A flexible tubing into which foods are stuffed to provide a skin-tight covering. Used in packaging prepared meats, poultry, cheese and other food products. Casings may be made of animal intestines or of synthetic ma­terials such as regenerated ceIlulose, and plastic and rubber films.

    Case packer (caser)

    A packaging machine which forms a corrugated box, and inserts the product into it. The box is subsequently sealed on a case sealer.

    Case sealer

    A machine for closing the flaps of a fibreboard box and sealing them with adhesive tape, glue or staples.

    Cast film

    Plastic film manufactured by extruding a hot semi-liquid plastic resin onto a highly polished and chilled cylinder where it cools and sets.


    Film made of regenerated cellulose which is treated to form a clear transparent film. It must be coated to be heat sealable and moistureproof.

    Cellophane Tape Test

    A quick but not precise method for examining the adherence of printing on plastic films. A piece of cellophane adhesive tape, or other pressure-sensitive tape, is adhered to a section of printing and then pulled off in one motion to see whether or not the ink will come off with it. The speed of the pulling is important.


    See: Pulp.

    Cellulose acetate

    A thermoplastic material made by the esterification reaction of cellulose with acetic anhydride and acetic acid. When extruded, it is a highly transparent film with good grease resistance.

    Cellulose acetate butyrate (CAB)

    A thermoplastic mate­rial which can be converted into shapes or film similar to cellulose acetate. Has property of toughness with relatively high impact strength and shock resistance.

    Cement, binder

    A substance which causes two surfaces to adhere and also usually acts as a filler or sealant between them.

    Ceramic Labelling

    A process for labelling glass containers with a label composed of coloured glass that is fused to the container.

    Chain conveyor

    A continuous chain for moving products from one point to another. See also: Belt conveyor.

    Check weigher

    A measuring device designed to reject a package weighing either more or less than a predetermined standard.


    A latch- or lock-lidded box or trunk-like container usually designed specifically for a particular item, set, kit or assortment, or for valuables, frequently including interior fittings, attach­ments and exterior reinforcements.

    Child-resistant packaging

    Packaging that is designed or con­structed to be significantly difficult for most children under five years of age to open or ob­tain a toxic or harmful amount of the substance contained therein within a reasonable time, while not difficult for normal adults to open and use.


    The projecting rim around the ends of a metal or composite package where they are joined to the body.


    Made mostly from waste paper with a greyish inner and back. Average weight 300 g/m2. Often has a white top layer, coated to improve surface properties. White lined chipboard is not suitable for use in direct contact with food.

    Choked neck

    Narrowed or constricted opening in a glass container.


    A patented colour proofing system using special coloured powders and sensitized paper so that the copy and the balance of colours from the colour separations can be studied and corrected, if necessary, prior to printing.


    Light gauge, low carbon, cold re­duced steel plate for cans,  on which chromium and oxides have been electrolytically deposited.

    Climatic conditions

    The environments, either natural or artificial, in which the package and its contents must exist and perform.


    (1) After nailing, to bend or turn over the protruding points so that nails will hold fast.

    (2) To bend or crimp a metal component  about anoth­er part so as to fasten the two together. For example, a can end may be loosely fastened to the can body by clinching the flange of the end under the flange of the can. The end remains loose, however, to permit air in the head space to be removed during subsequent op­erations.


    A plastic or metal fitting used to close typically a paper or plastic film bag.


    A sealing or covering device affixed to or on a container for the purpose of retaining the contents or preventing contamination.


    A covering or a layer of a substance which has been deposited on the surface of a material while in fluid form, and which then hardens and bonds with the surface.

    Coating weight

    The amount of coating material applied to a base material usually measured in grams/square metre.

    "Cocoon" packaging

    A packing  method employing sprayed plastic films to ac­complish a relatively airtight enclosure of an item. “Cocoon” is a registerd trade name for this method. Desiccant is usually included to maintain low relative humidity.


    (1) The assignment of numerical, alpha­betical or symbolic identifying marks to con­tainers, packaging material or articles to pro­vide information concerning the qualities of the container or of the contents, or date, plant or line in which manufactured. (2) The application of codes to a package by hand or mechanical embossing, printing, stamping, tagging or labeling.


    Combining two or more layers of the same or different thermoplastic materials within the same extrusion die, to form a multilayered film, sheet or plastic package.


    An adhesive system in which surfaces are pre-treated with an adhesive activated by pressure and not needing external heat. Commonly used for heat sensitive products, e.g. chocolate candy.

    Collapsible tube

    A cylindrical container with an integral shoulder and neck, provided with an opening and fitted with a closure, usually a screw cap. The tube may be made of metal, plastics or combinations thereof.

    Colour concentrate

    A plastic resin which contains 15 to 30 times as much colour as required. The moulder "lets down" the concentrate with virgin material to obtain the specified colour.

    Colour control charts

    Chromatic colour tone stand­ards, against which coloured materials or print­ing may be compared, to aid in developing uni­formity or consistency of colour tones.

    Colour printing

    Printing with a number of colours, usually four or more.

    Colour separation

    The separation of a multi-colour artwork or photographic transparency into the component colours used in the colour printing. Each colour component is reproduced by a separate printing plate.

    Column Crush

    A test performed on a small sample of corrugated board which is a measure of the compression strength of that sample. Also referred to as edge crush and short column crush.


    Ability of a container, whether lined or unlined, to resist degradation of or by the product contained.

    Composite can

    A rigid container with the body made of fibreboard or a combination of fibreboard and other materials such as aluminium foil or plastic films. The ends may be made of metal, plastic or other materials.


    (1) substance containing two or more chemically combined ingredients in its composition. (if not chemically com­bined  it is said to be a mixture)

    (2) Combinationor mixture of  materials, such as plastics polymers. For example,  can sealing compounds are emulsions or solutions of rubber or plastics  used to achieve hermetic seals between the can body and ends.

    Compression moulding

    A method of forming objects from plastics by compressing and heating the material in a mould cavity.

    Compression strength

    Strength, measured by the force in kilograms or pounds applied through two flat surfaces onto two opposing surfaces of a package (usually top and bottom) to produce a specified degree of collapse. Generally considered the most important test of corrugated board boxes.

    Computer-to-plate (CTP)

    Design image can be transferred electronically from the designer’s computer work station to a printing plate.


    The accumulation of moisture on the surface of a package when the dew point has been reached. See also: Dew point.


    Holding a package or  material under controlled temperature and humidity conditions till equilibrium between the atmosphere and the material is attained. Conversion, printing or physical  testing of the material can then be undertaken successfully.


    Any containing vessel used in packaging for distribution or shipping. Freight containers: a relatively large reusable structure to be filled with smaller objects to facilitate their distribution.

    Continuous Thread

    An uninterrupted protruding helix on the neck of a container to hold a screw-type closure.


    Any image that consists of a range of values from light to intermediate to dark with no defined breaks between values.

    Contract packer

    An enterprise that packs goods for others. May also process the goods prior to packing.

    Controlled atmosphere

    When the normal gaseous atmosphere within a package is replaced by one or more selected gases. Nitrogen and carbon dioxide are common examples. The objective is to extend shelf or storage life of the product.

    Conventional prepress

    Used to describe printing production that does not utilize electronic imaging processes, systems or equipment.


    A processor or manufacturer who converts  packaging materials into more finished.forms or into complete containers. Examples are con­verters of aluminum foil into freezer wrap or  la­bels, converters of paper into bags or cartons,  and converters of plastics into rigid or flexible con­tainers.

    Convolute can

    A cylindrical can made by convolute winding of the materials to build up the desired thickness and resistance properties.


    One who makes or repairs barrels, kegs, or other cooperage. Includes also repair of paper shipping sacks and wood boxes.


    A compound formed by the chemical linking of two or more different monomers through a polymerization process.


    String or thin rope.


    A tube usually of fibreboard on which web materials of paper, board, film and foil are wound.


    1.The light tough bark of the cork oak.

    2.The closure of a bottle made from either natural cork or synthetic materials (plastic).


    A reinforcing member designed to fit around the corner of a pallet load to provide support for strapping and to prevent damage to the corrugated boxes by the strapping, thus also increasing the compressive strength of the pallet board.

    Corona treatment

    Exposure of a plastic to electrical discharge to increase the polarity of the surface making it more receptive to ink and coatings.


    The gradual destruction of a material by another substance, as for example rusting. Corrosion inhibitors can be incorporated inside the package or within the packaging material (bags) itself to retard or inhibit corrosion, e.g. vapour phase inhibitors.

    Corrugated board

    A major packaging material consisting of a medium which has been fluted or pleated on a machine called a corrugator. Flat layers of paperboard are glued to one or both sides of the fluted medium to form a single-faced or double-faced (single-wall) corrugated board. Additional walls and faces can be added to meet desired performance specifications. See also: Flute.

    Corrugated medium (fluting)

    Paperboard material used to form the fluted portion of a corrugated board.


    A machine for combining two to seven webs of liners and fluting into corrugated paperboard. On the same machine the board is also creased in the machine direction and cut into sheets for further converting.


    The insertion of a wad or ball of cotton into the headspace of a bottle of tablets, pills or capsules, to prevent their movement and conse­quent breakage or disintegration in transit.


    (1) The top, end or lid of a container, usually the part which closes the filling or dispensing opening.

    (2) A wrapper.

    (3)  The closure or head of a metal container or drum when not joined to the body by double seaming.

    Cover Backing

    Material that is used to enclose an item within a blister pack. It is the material, such as hard or soft temper foil, foil/paper laminates, coated board, etc., that seals to the blister material.

    Crab Claw Seal

    Named for its shape, it is a thin flexible protrusion molded into a closure which will compress against a bottle sealing surface during normal capping operations. The bottle’s neck land (the sealing surface) must be flat and defect free as this feature requires uniform compression to provide an effective seal.


    A rigid shipping container

    1.   Of wood, is of framed construction joined together with nails, bolts, wire and similar methods of fastening.

    2.   Of plastic, injection moulded of a stiff material, often high density polyethylene, typically an open-top container for bottles, vegetables, etc.

    3.   Of metal, fabricated from galvanized steel or anodized aluminium.


    Thin or bare spots in a coating film which have the appearance of pock marks. 


    Fine cracks which may extend in a net­work on or under the surface of, or through­out, a film layer or adhesive or on surfaces of glazed materials such as glass, plastics, and painted or enameled surfaces.


    The indentation or mark made in any pliable material to provide a point of bending or flexure. See also: Score.


    Dimensional changes with time of a plastic material under stress. Sometimes called “cold flow”.


    The process of producing minute wrinkles in a material so that it can be stretched significantly without tearing.

    Crimped seal

    A method of sealing with pressure applied by knurled wheels or bars having a serrated surface. Generally stronger than a similar seal without crimping.

    Cross direction

    The direction at right angles to the longitudinal (machine) direction of a web or material. Often called the “cross grain” or “transverse” direction.

    Cross-linked film

    Term applied to polymer film that has been irradiated or chemically processed to cross-link the molecules and, thereby, enhance strength, lessen permeability, increase shrink, and change other properties.

    Crown (cork)

    A metal closure, lined with cork or plastic. The cap is crimped around its rim over the finish of a bottle to provide a hermetic seal.

    Cubic capacity

    The total volume within a container. The volume of material that may be held in a container, in terms of its internal di­mensions; does not allow for necessary outage (head-space).  An exception is made in the case of bags, for which capacities are determined by exter­nal dimensions because the material thickness is usually negligible.


    Used or scrap glass which has been crushed and is added to a batch of new raw materials to be remelted and formed into new glass products.


    To treat a material by the application of time, heat, pressure, catalysts, chemical agents or combination thereof to impart desired physical properties.


    Distortions of sheet or web due, for instance, to uneven moisture content or excessive tension.

    Curtain coating

    Passage of packaging materials through a flowing 'curtain' of wax and plastic. Mostly used for coating corrugated and solid fibreboard box blanks to impart moisture resistance.

    Cushioning material

    Resilient materials used to absorb shocks and pressures caused by external forces. Examples: excelsior, shredded paper, crêped paper, foamed plastic, rubberized hair, entrapped air bubbles in plastic film and many others.

    Cutting and creasing press

    A machine for cutting and creasing or scoring boxboard and paperboard blanks.

    Cylinder machine

    A machine for making paper and board. The web is formed by revolving, wire mesh covered cylinders, partially immersed in a vat of “furnish” (paper pulp and water). The web is built up to desired thickness by carrying it on a belt over successive cylinders.

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