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Packaging - Glossary - M

  • 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.

  • M

    Machine direction

    (1) In the manufacture of paper or board the majority of the fibres tend to align themselves in a direction parallel to the direction of travel through the machine. This direction is known as the "machine," "longitudinaI," or "with the grain" direction, and is at right angles to the "across," "transverse" or "cross" direction.

    (2) For packaging equipment, a right-handed machine is one through which the packages flow from 1eft to right when the machine is viewed from the front or normal op­erator location; on a left-handed machine, the package travels from right to left.

    Machine-glazed (MG)

    Paper made on a machine with a Yankee drier. The top surface is smooth and can have a relatively high gloss; the reverse side is rough and not glossy.


    A glass bottle, sometimes usedfor sparkling wines, having a capacity of 2.25 litres. A double magnum contains 4.5 litres. In some markets magnumcapacities differ from these values.

    Mailer lock

    An extra lock tab that is added to the ends or top of a folding carton so that it will re­main closed during rough handling.


    (1) (noun) Preparatory operations required prior to actual production, largely with work of a custom nature.

    (2) In printing plants, preparatory operations prior to going to press, including the adjustment of cutting, creasing and scoring rolls, preparation ofthe press, etc.

    (3) (verb) To perform the make ready operations.


    A paper with colour and finish similar to that formerly obtained with paper made from manila hemp stock. Nowadays the term has no significance as to fibre composition.

    Manufacturer's joint

    The seam of a paperboard case or folding carton where the two edges of the blank have been joined by the manufacturer.


    Application of printed symbols, numbers, etc., to containers or labels for identification, storage, handling, shipment, etc. May be done manually using stencils, pens, stamps or paint, or automatically on the packaging line.

    Marking ink

    Ink for marking containers using stencil, a rubber stamp or other marking devices.

    Master container/pack

    Shipping container/pack into which other packs are placed, for collation handling and additional protection purposes e.g. for frozen shrimps.

    Materials handling

    The concept and technology of conveying, transporting and warehousing of goods. Can be accomplished by manual, semi-automatic or fully automatic means.

    Matte Finish

    A surface coating which is not glossy, from whatever angle it is observed. Also referred to as a flat finish.

    Mechanical artwork

    Artwork that has been fully prepared and assembled for photographic reproduction.
    Normally the first step of a printing job; also termed a paste-up.

    Mechanical wood pulp

    Pulp produced by grinding logs against a revolving rough stone cylinder to separate the fibres.

    Melt index

    A measure of the viscosity of a molten thermoplastic resin, defined as the quantity of product that will flow through a defined orifice in 10 minutes under controlled pressure and temperature.

    Melting point

    The temperature at which a solid begins to become a liquid, to melt. Not to be confused with softening point.


    Any thin, soft, pliable sheet or layer of animal or vegetable material or thin metals or plastics.


    The curved surface ofa liquid at the fill level in a bottle or jar, where the fluid level next to the container wall is higher than in the center.

    Metal can

    A rigid metal container made of steel, tinplate, aluminium or other metal.


    Applying a thin coating of metal, usually aluminium, by vacuum deposition onto a non-metallic film or paper surface in a vacuum chamber.


    A term used by climatologists to designate the climate of a small, local area. The term has come into use to describe the "climate" within a package and includes temperature, relative humidity, and chemical composition of the gases within the package.

    Microcrystalline wax

    A fine wax with grains so small that they are visible only through a microscope. It therefore has high flow and high penetration characteristics.


    Corrugated paperboard employing relatively fine pitch small thickness E flutes; fluting medium.


    One thousandth of a millimetre.


    The movement or transfer of a chemical component of the packaging material to the product or a component of the product to or through the packaging material.


    One thousandth of an inch (25 microns).

    Mirror imaging

    When printing on an opaque surface, the design reproduced is the mirror image of that on the printing plate. However, if printed on the reverse side of a transparent material and viewed through it, the image is the same as that on the plate.

    Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP)

    Gas-tight package in which the interior mixture of gase is modified to assist in preserving the contents

    Modular container

    (1) One of a series of contain­ers so designed that the panels forming the faces can be used interchangeably for several box sizes and the completed containers can be arranged, like blocks, in several patterns to fill the same cubic space.

    (2) A system of shipping containers designed dimensionally to make up a module for maximum storage and shipping space utilization. The containers are designed to fit given rack and pallet sizes during the distribu­tion cycle.

    Moebius loop

    Design of circulating arrows indicating that a product or package is recoverable and recyclable.

    Moire patterns

    Interference patterns which can arise in a printed, half tone designs if the halftone dots are slightly misaligned.

    Moisture content

    The amount of water in a finished material expressed as a percentage of the original total weight of the test sample.


    A cavity into which a molten material such as glass, metal or plastic is poured or forced to be formed into a desired shape conforming to the inside of the cavity.

    Mould join line/seam

    A line or slight projection formed at the point where the mould halves make contact. The prominence of the line depends on the accuracy with which the mating mould halves are matched. Also known as the mould parting line.

    Mould Number

    The number assigned to each mould or set of moulds for identification purposes, usually placed in that part of the container mould that forms the base of the container.

    Moulded pulp tray

    Packaging container formed directly from slush pulp moulded into forms that snugly contain, separate or cushion articles — e.g. apples, eggs.

    Mullen test

    A test to determine the bursting strength of a flat sample of a corrugated or solid fibreboard.

    Multifold/multipanel label

    Label having two or more folded leaves that can be opened out by the customer to reveal additional information (on pharmaceutical packages, for example) and/or mail-in coupons.

    Multi-layer container

    A plastic container which is co-extruded with two or more different plastics, to protect and/or contain products such as oxygen-sensitive foods or industrial chemicals. For example, a PA/PE pouch, the polyamide bringing the added barrier, the polyethylene bringing the sealing performance.


    Multiple units of identical packed items — e.g. a six-pack carton of soft drink bottles or beer cans, held together by a retaining device or material.

    Multiple ups

    In printing technology the number of identical copies on the same sheet. In reproduction technology (step and repeat copying) the aligning of spaced, identical designs in one or both directions on the printing plate by means of photographic reproduction or copying.


    Having more than one wall or ply construction. In multi-wall sacks, generally means more than two walls; a two-ply construction is called duplex or double ply.

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