Board machines have gone through major advancements in the past few years for the purpose of gaining efficiency, achieving higher production speeds and fulfilling the need to make products that are sustainable. North America is known to dominate the manufacturing of SBS (Solid Bleached Substrate), where Europe, South America and Asia has taken the lead in manufacturing FBB (Folding BoxBoard) also called CTMP or TMP.
The difference between boards is very basic. SBS can be single or multi-ply board, but is comprised of 100-percent chemical pulp. FBB always is multi-ply and utilizes a combination of chemical and some form of MP (Mechanical Pulp) or TMP (Thermo Mechanical Pulp). The reason for the development of FBB is to create light-weight board, which uses fewer trees, offers yield advantages over SBS and CRB (Coated Recycled Board) and a significant weight savings, which can be seen in transportation costs.
Solid Bleached Sulfate (SBS)
In North America, Solid Bleached Sulfate (SBS) is a prominent packaging material. Made from mostly hardwood, first-generation, chemically pulped fibers are subsequently bleached, refined and formed in one ply on fourdrinier-type paperboard machines. SBS is white on both sides and throughout the sheet. The relatively short hardwood fibers are coated and polished, creating an impressively smooth print surface that accommodates the highest quality imaging by offset, flexography and gravure. This ultra-smooth surface also forms an ideal foundation for film and metallized foil lamination. Most SBS products are coated one-side only (C1S), but some may be partially or fully coated on the back side as well (C2S).
SBS generally performs well for embossing, hot foil stamping, creasing, and gluing. It cuts cleanly and has sufficient internal and surface strength properties to accommodate high-speed printing with tacky oil-based lithographic inks. SBS is not known for tear strength, but generally has good stiffness and compression strength. Other properties like being hygienic and pure with no smell and taste, make it usable for flavour sensitive products like cigarettes, Pharmaceutical, chocolate, and cosmetics. SBS is often higher priced as compared with other paperboard substrates.
Primary North American suppliers of SBS include International Paper (IP-Everest), Westrock (Printkote), Georgia Pacific (GP-Masterprint) and Clearwater (Candesce).
Folding Box Board (FBB, TMP)
Folding box board also referred as FBB, CTMP or TMP comprises middle layers of mechanical pulp sandwiched between outer layers of chemical pulp. The top layer of chemical pulp is bleached and pigment coated. The back of the paperboard is cream (manila) in colour. This is because the back layer of bleached or unbleached chemical pulp is translucent, allowing the colour of the middle layers to influence the appearance.
Being virgin fibre paperboard with consistent purity for product safety, the combination of inner layers of mechanical pulp with outer layers of chemical pulp creates a strong and stiff sheet, making it a low density material with high stiffness. The fully coated grades give great printing and visual impact.
Folding boxboard is a low grammage solid board suited to the packaging of lightweight products, commonly available in 150-400gsm. TMP is available in coated one side or coated two sides and is a cost alternative to SBS.
Major end uses of folding boxboard are health and beauty products, frozen and chilled packaged foods, confectionaries, pharmaceuticals, graphical uses, and cigarettes.
Primary European and Asian suppliers of FBB include, Rayonier (Tembec-Kallima), Metsä Board (Pro FBB Bright); Stora Enso (Tambrite) and APP (Zenith)
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Sources: Zumbiel Packaging, Metsä Board; Stora Enso; International Paper; Georgia Pacific; Westrock