There also are savings in the manufacturing process.
Energy costs are lower and the lighter-weight paper requires that the giant rolls that feed the equipment be replaced about one-third as frequently as the heavier stock, Flaming said.
As a result, pricing of the tri-wall is competitive with dual-wall cartons, he said.
Flaming said converting to 20-pound paper as opposed to the more common 69-pound stock used in most corrugated paper construction was a challenge.
“We tore up a lot of that 20-pound paper before figuring out how to get the equipment to pull the material through the 300-foot-long manufacturing process,” he said.
The strength of the tri-wall material enabled Maxco to redesign what had become the industry’s standard carton, Sepe said.
The stacking tabs on the sides of most cartons are weak points, he said, but the strength of the material permitted Maxco to relocate the stacking tabs to the stronger ends of the cartons.
Most dual-wall cartons are unable to withstand vertical pressure greater than 3,000 pounds, Flaming said.
“The microflute, tri-wall cartons can take 5,000 pounds and probably more,” he said. “I won’t let them test above 5,000 pounds because I don’t want to damage our testing equipment.”
The redesigned cartons made of tri-wall will reduce load shifts that can damage or destroy fresh produce during shipping.
Another attribute of the tri-wall product is that is the microflutes create an unusually smooth exterior that virtually eliminates flute lines often obvious in a carton’s graphics and printing.
“Tri-wall is as near as we can get to solid fiber,” Sepe said.
To take advantage of the new tri-wall material, Maxco is installing new seven-color printing equipment, Sepe said.
The equipment will be in operation this fall, he said.
“We want a box that looks as good when it arrives as the day it was filled,” Flaming said.
The tri-wall carton may prove to be the death knell for at least one other Maxco product.
Testing has found water does not penetrate the material as it does dual-wall cartons, a problem that forced many table grape grower-shippers to switch to plastic cartons.
“The tri-walls will eventually replace our plastic cartons,” Flaming said.
The one Maxco constant that will not change is a decision Flaming made nearly 40 years ago when he founded the company: The company’s products are solely for the agricultural industry.
“We focus on our niche. If you focus on a single industry and listen to what the industry needs, you’ll do all right,” he said.