Cartoning Machine Working Principle

Cartoning machines allow you to transform flat pieces of cardboard or other material into boxes or cartons without breaking a muscle.

They exhibit a high automation level but still require a certain level of human supervision hence why you must understand their working principle.

What is a Cartoning Machine?

A cartoner is a system engineered to erect cartons, and package specific products in these boxes before sealing them. Since their invention, cartoning machines have particularly thrived in the manufacturing industry thanks to their convenience and user-friendliness.

Horizontal Cartoning Machine
Horizontal Cartoning Machine

Working Principle of Cartoning Machine

Having a clear picture of how your cartoning machine works will not only help you optimize its performance but it will also help you maintain it better.

But before looking at the steps your cartoner takes to generate packaged and sealed boxes, let us first look at its primary components.

· In-feeding System

This is the component tasked with introducing your respective goods to your cartoning machine for packaging. Most advanced cartoners come with an automatic product feeding system such as a conveyor system. This saves you the hustle of manually loading your products into the machine.

· Carton Magazine

This constituent takes your preformed carton blanks and loads them into your carton magazine for processing. Depending on your machine’s automation degree, the carton magazine can either be manual or automatic.

Cartoning Machine Working Sequence
Cartoning Machine Working Sequence

· Carton Magazine Erector

This essential component takes your loaded carton blanks from the carton magazine before transforming them into properly shaped boxes. Different manufacturers endow their cartoning erecting units with varying mechanisms. However, the most common erectors rely on mechanisms such as air jets and rollers.

· Inserter

The inserter carefully inserts your products into the erected or properly shaped boxes. Cartoners engineered to fulfill large-scale packaging demands come with a guided rail, which supports multiple inserters. This allows you to package your products into distinct cartons simultaneously.

· Product Collation System

The collation system is only fitted into cartoning machines specialized to handle products that must be positioned or grouped in a certain way. This system often features vibrators, which orient your products in a specific way before loading them into your boxes.

· Carton Closing Unit

This is a closing station tasked with securing your products inside the formed cartons. It exploits varying sealing methods but the most common methods utilized include hot melt glue application and tape application.  The carton closing unit also includes a tuck flap closer and dust flap closer which are responsible for folding your carton’s flap.

· Outfeed Conveyor

The outfeed conveyor is tasked with discharging your sealed cartons from your cartoner. Your machine’s outfeed system may deliver your sealed boxes to other components such as a labelling unit or a printing system.

· Control System

This pivotal constituent governs the operation of your cartoner’s other components. It coordinates your cartoning machines, box, and product loading as well as product insertion. Advanced machines come with PLC controllers, sensors, and actuators.

How Your Cartoning Machine Works

The typical cartoning machine adheres to very specific working principles, which revolve around, carton formation, product loading, and box sealing. However, owing to differences in automation levels, you might notice a slight difference in your cartoning machine’s working principle.

· Working Principle of a Semi-automatic Cartoning Machine


Vertical Cartoning Machine Loading System
Vertical Cartoning Machine Loading System

A semi-automatic cartoning machine offers you the perfect balance between oversight and computerized packaging. This machine will reward you with perfectly packaged cartons ready for distribution in a number of steps, namely:

  • Carton Blanks Feeding: First, the semi-automatic cartoner takes your pre-cut cardboard materials and loads them onto the carton magazine. These blanks are typically loaded onto the carton infeed unit in stacks. However, they are loaded onto the magazine one by one.
  • Carton Formation: Subsequently the pre-cut box delivered to the carton magazine is then folded to give birth to your finished carton or box. Although the machine does the folding on its own, you will be necessitated to occasionally readjust your cartoner’s settings.
  • Product Loading: With your cartons automatically folded into usable boxes, you can proceed to insert your designated products inside. This is the step where you are required to use your hands. Although this can be laborious, it gives control over the condition of your products and their positioning inside the boxes.
  • Sealing: After you have manually nestled your goods inside your cartons, your semi-automatic cartoning machine will proceed to secure your goods inside. First, the flap closers will fold your box’s top flaps before applying the adhesive of your choice.
  • Carton Discharge: With your products secured inside the boxes, the cartoner proceeds to eject these boxes. Using a conveyor system, the cartoner delivers your finished cartons to an attached labeling machine or a collection station.
  • Quality Control: As your semi-automatic cartoning machine does its magic, you must occasionally undertake visual inspections to ensure that your products are well packaged. For instance, you can weigh your packaged cartons to ensure that they are accurately packaged.

· Working Principle of Automatic Cartoning Machine


Fully Automatic Cartoning Machine
Fully Automatic Cartoning Machine

The automatic cartoner represents the highest level of human ingenuity given that they deliver fully packaged and sealed cartons without necessitating your involvement. They accomplish this in a number of steps, namely:

  • Flat Cartons Infeed: The automatic cartoning machine kickstarts its operation by taking in your flat carton materials in stacks. The cartoner utilizes robotic arms and in most cases a conveyor system to relay the boxes to the erector for box generation.
  • Carton Erecting: The loaded flat carton materials are then conveyed to the carton erector where they are automatically transformed into usable boxes. Automatic cartoners contain grippers, which grip the boxes before folding them into boxes.
  • Product Infeed: With the boxes formed, and your products loaded onto the cartoner, the products are then automatically dispensed into the empty cartons. The machine utilizes sensors to ensure that your products are properly positioned inside the boxes. The dispensation can either be:
    • Top-loading.
    • Side-loading.
    • End-loading.
  • Carton Closing:Once the boxes are filled to your desired level, the automatic cartoning system folds the top flaps of your filled boxes. Consequently, the machine lays an adhesive on your boxes. This results in a tight and secure seal, which guarantees the safety of your products during transportation.
  • Carton Inspection: Using sensors and computerized vision systems, your automatic cartoning machine then proceeds to look for defects in the packaged cartons. This involves looking for loose seals and damaged boxes.
  • Filled Carton Discharge: After sealing and visual box inspection, the filled boxes that meet your prescribed quality standards and fill level are loaded onto a conveyor system. This system conveys the boxes to subsequent systems for further packaging.

Cartoning machines are undoubtedly the cornerstones of secondary packaging and understanding their working principles helps you appreciate their worth even more. They cater to a multitude of packaging needs ranging from box formation to carton sealing.

More resources:

46 Cartoning Machine Parts for Effective Packaging Process – Source: JOCHAMP

Carton Folding Machine: The Ultimate Guide – Source: JOCHAMP

Factors Affecting Cartoning Machine Price – Source: JOCHAMP

Top 21 Cartoning Machine Manufacturers in China – Source: JOCHAMP

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