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Design & Technology

Printing, finishing, packaging, and paper engineering.

Packaging functions and techniques

Packaging fulfils the following functions:

  • containing and holding the product
  • protecting the product from damage
  • informing the customer about the product
  • creating brand identity to promote and help sell the product
  • making it convenient to carry, use and store the product


Cardboard cartons are the most common form of packaging. The process involved in manufacturing cartons can be summarised as follows:

  1. Print the carton design onto card.
  2. Cut out the surface development of the carton, with tabs for gluing.
  3. Fold the net into the carton shape.
  4. Glue the carton together along the tabs.

Other types of packaging

  • Bottles and jars made from glass or plastic are used for liquids, granules and powders.
  • Boxes and cylinders made from card are used for granules, powders and whole items.
  • Plastic bags are used for food products and small loose items, eg snack foods and sweets.
  • Cans are used for food products. Drinks cans are made from aluminium and food cans are made from tin-coated steel (tinplate).
  • Bubble packs consisting of a stiff plastic bubble made by vaccuum-forming fixed to a card backing - are used for small products, eg stationery items, toys and screws.
  • Shrink-wrapping - soft plastic vaccuum formed onto card backing - is used for some small products, eg DIY products and toys.

Packaging regulation

image of hand holding packaging with a bar code

Bar code on packaging

The information given on packaging is regulated by laws [laws: Formal rules adopted by Parliament and enforced by government. ] and standards [standards: Guidelines or specifications which are widely agreed and commonly accepted, but do not necessarily have the force of law. ]. Some of the most important principles are that:

  • the name of the company that made the product should be visible on the packaging. This is required by law.
  • the contents of the product (and its packaging) should be listed. This is required by law.
  • health and safety information about using the product should be given. This is required by law.
  • information about safely disposing of the packaging or container after use should be given
  • a bar code should be displayed for stock control and pricing purposes
  • instructions for recycling the product and/or its packaging after use

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