Date of Award

December 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Packaging Science

Committee Member

Gregory Batt

Committee Member

Duncan Darby

Committee Member

Matthew Daum


Corrugated boxes are relatively inexpensive and used extensively to contain and protect consumer products as they move through the distribution system, providing a much-needed function in today’s economy. Also, corrugated boxes are constructed from paper, which is affected by ambient moisture in the atmosphere. Relative humidity regularly varies between 30 to 90 percent depending on location and time of year. Above a relative humidity of 30 percent, paper fibers are affected, resulting in a decrease in the top-to-bottom compression strength of corrugated boxes. Therefore, understanding the moisture effect on box compression strength is essential. The goal of this study is to characterize the effect of relative humidity and, subsequently, the effects of moisture content on the compressive resistance of corrugated board boxes. A total of 3,000 industry supplied boxes are used to evaluate moisture content and compressive strength at seven relative humidity conditions from 30 to 90 percent. Three sets of conditions are repeated to test repeatability for a total of ten batches tested overall. Preconditioning and conditioning of all specimens meet or exceed the requirements of TAPPI T402. All specimens are compression tested by following TAPPI T804. Further, all compression testing is performed in an environmental chamber at test conditions to ensure uniformity. The moisture content for three out of every ten specimens is recorded using a loss-upon-drying moisture balance. Results indicate a second-order polynomial increase in moisture content as a function of relative humidity. The compression strength of corrugated boxes is found to vary linearly with moisture content for the range tested and follows a second-order polynomial decrease with increasing relative humidity. The data from this study are compiled into a table of corrugated box strength reduction factors for comparison with the results from previous studies.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.