A Carton Structure for every Packaging Challenge

popcorn and drink carton in one piece

At Dollard Packaging, we have been manufacturing cartons since 1982. In this time, we have helped many customers find innovative solutions to their packaging challenges. For many packaging challenges, there may be more than one solution. If you have a packaging conundrum, make sure to utilise our expertise to help figure it out. Our 37 years of manufacturing cartons mean we can find unique solutions to packaging challenges. In this article, we take a look at some cartons that have unusual or innovative structures that solved a packaging challenge.

Agree on Carton Structure First, then Begin the Graphic Design of the Carton

As with all carton packaging projects, it is very important that you begin the project by consulting your carton manufacturer before you consult your graphic designer. This may seem counterintuitive, however, the most important initial issue regarding packaging is the structure of the carton or sleeve, not the artwork creation. The structure and the proposed cartonboard must be tested and approved before you approach a graphic designer looking for artwork creation.

We can provide your graphic designer with a sample-tested key line (a keyline is a detailed outline of the structure of your proposed packaging which they can use to create the artwork in the correct format for printing)

Keyline for Carton Printing

Keyline for Carton Printing sample


If your graphic designer creates artwork without following a keyline, this can cause errors in the artwork which will need to be corrected and will cause delays and unnecessary expense. You can read more about Dollard Packaging’s Guidelines for the Creation of Artwork for Cartons here.

Don’t know where to start with the carton structure?       

You may have a packaging challenge to which you think there is no obvious solution.  Our advice is not to “throw in the towel” until you have discussed this issue with ourselves. At Dollard Packaging, we have, on occasion, adapted or added parts to our cutting and folding machines to allow for the production of new carton structures. Below we look at a few samples of some cartons that have unusual or innovative structures. 

Popcorn and Drink Carton         

We know that this is a first world problem but how does one carry a carton of popcorn, a drink and hand a ticket/show a phone to the cinema attendant all at the same time? 

There is more than one solution to this. At Dollard, we decided to attach the drink holder to the side of the popcorn box which means that the drink and popcorn can be carried with one hand leaving the other hand free to hold the ticket or phone. In order to create the carton structure, we needed to adapt our cutting machine by drilling extra holes in it.

popcorn and drink carton in one piece

However, this is not the only solution to this packaging challenge. Below is Coca Cola’s solution. In this structure, the popcorn box sits above the drink carton, allowing it to be carried with one hand also. One drawback of the Coca Cola solution is that the structure is somewhat unwieldy, especially if the user tips the drink carton to the side. In the picture shown, the person on the right of the picture is in danger of spilling the popcorn if she unthinkingly tilts the drink carton any further forward (and thus the popcorn carton also).


coca cola popcorn and drink carton in one

Testing your Carton

The above comparison between the 2 solutions leads us to another important element is a packaging design project, the testing of your carton samples.

When we create a carton structure for you, we will supply you with carton samples for you to test. Samples will be based on your specification and information from the Packaging Information and Lifestyle Questionnaire that you will have completed for us at the start of the project. (You can view the Packaging Information and Lifestyle Questionnaire in Point 2 of this blog link) If you adhere to any standards such as BRC, that information should be included in your specification also.

Now that we have the required information, we will create a sample structure for your carton.  

The samples of the cartons that we supply will be on the carton board we propose to use in the final version of the printed carton. You will need to test these samples on your filling machines/handlers and in all the various conditions that your packaging will go through throughout its life cycle. In this example of the popcorn and drink holder carton, the carton samples would need to be tested by “real people” in realistic conditions.

The results of these tests may help you decide whether a particular structure will work for your product/needs. For example, the popcorn and drink carton must work well in a crowded cinema foyer where it is possible that other cinema patrons may brush off each other as they file in and out of the queue.

Here at Dollard Packaging, we will review the results with you and create new sample carton structures if necessary.

Below are photos of some other unusual carton structures that we have manufactured at Dollard Packaging.

book-style reverse tuck-end printed carton crashlock carton

straightline hooked reverse tuck-end die-cut carton

cartons with die-cuts

cartons with die-cuts

Contact us if you need help creating your carton structure on  01 847 00 44 or sales@dollard-packaging.ie

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