What is cardboard engineering? The term doesn't exist on Wikipedia. Web searches for “definition of cardboard engineering” and other similar questions find no results. You will not find “cardboard engineering” on any US site (they call it paperboard but “paperboard engineering” cannot be found either.) And yet, if you put “cardboard engineering” into Google.com it reports over 3,000,000 results, whilst a search for “cardboard engineers” produces 1,740,000 results.
So, back to the original question – what is cardboard engineering? In order to find out, let's take a look at these diversified examples – all producing quite different things but each area describing itself as being involved in cardboard engineering.
Companies who make cardboard boxes and packaging employ cardboard engineering skills to create products which might range from a fairly ordinary rectangular box to a highly innovative product to act as a presentation pack. The term “cardboard engineering” also seems to cover closing mechanisms with names like crash lock bottoms, side panel locks and tuck lock tops.
Companies involved in producing point of sale products also utilise cardboard engineering techniques in the design of POS units from giant floor standing displays to counter top dispensers. Larger POS companies employ highly sophisticated CAD design systems, cutting plotters and large format printers in their design departments and work in a variety of materials which can include corrugated board, display board and folding box board.
There are lots of cardboard engineers who utilise their skills as a hobby, creating models and automata. This group is closely related to others with crafts and hobby interest in paper engineering, card making, making books by hand and origami. These groups actually account for the largest numbers of participants with millions of world-wide enthusiasts.
However, there is one area where cardboard engineering can create quite a stir – particularly in the world of Business to Business promotional marketing. Using a combination of skills gleaned from the various worlds of paper engineering, promotional packaging, paper crafts, structural packaging and the technology involved in designing pop-up books; the cardboard engineered items produced for the promotions and advertising market are perhaps the most intriguing.
Products in this area have the most amazing movements. There are pop-up products which are powered by rubber bands which come in all shapes and sizes. They are often used in direct marketing and jump out of the mailing pack to give the addressee a big surprise. There are other products with really sophisticated movements that grow bigger when opened or they can turn and spin. There are many interactive products designed to hold the interest of the B2B customer. One UK company with a large range of examples such as these is Whitney Woods.
So, what is cardboard engineering? Well, having taken a long, hard look at the top results for the search of “cardboard engineering”, it seems to boil down to a term that covers the design of any three dimensional object that is made out of cardboard – from boxes and display units to making models and to producing promotional advertising products.