Get A Quote

All You Need to Know about Paper Tubes


The history of paper tubes

Paper tubes are related to the history of paper and cardboard. As far as we know, the paper was born in China. Records tell us that in 105 AD, Cai Lun, a servant of the Chinese emperor He Ti, invented paper by making pulp from rags and fishing nets. Later, he improved his paper by using pulped plant fibers. Its use gradually spread worldwide, and by 1495, workers in England were maintaining the first paper mills in England. As for cardboard, it also originated with the Chinese. In the 16th century, they made thick cardboard raw paper for packaging.

Paper tubes, as we know them today, were born in the mid-18th century, after the wood grinder, the machine invented in Germany in 1843 that allowed manufacturers to grind wood into a pulp they could use to make paper. Through this accumulation, manufacturers began to make cardboard boxes, the sibling of paper tubes. There is some debate about when people started making cardboard boxes. It is generally agreed that the first person to make them was Scottish-American Robert Blair. in 1890, he invented the pre-cut cardboard box, which made it easier to ship flat manufactured goods. After that, cardboard boxes became very popular. By 1906, they were a staple of the Kellogg factory, and the Kellogg brothers used them to package cornflakes in large quantities.

Around 1903, manufacturers in London began making paper tube packaging. They used paper tubes as a storage system, a protective shell, and a core to wrap fabric, paper, etc. In the 20th century, engineers and scientists came up with new materials and better technology, and paper tube manufacturers took full advantage. For example, they began adding liners to their paper tubes in many applications. They also learned how to make more durable paper tubes efficiently.

Today, paper tube manufacturing is as popular as ever. Paper tube manufacturers are happy to be able to say that paper tubes are recyclable and reusable, but they continue to strive for higher levels of sustainability. We can expect to see more of this as time goes on.

What is a paper tube?

Paper tubes are cylindrical structures made of paper or cardboard. The paper or cardboard layers are laminated or glued together with an adhesive and wrapped around a mandrel, thus producing a tube that is hollow, strong, and robust. The thickness of the tube walls can have different dimensions depending on the number of paper layers wound during the manufacturing process.

They are known by several names, such as postal tubes, fiber tubes, paper tubes, cardboard tubes, paper cores, cardboard tubes, paper tubes, wound tubes, composite cans, and fiber drums. However, the misnomer that is widely used is the "cardboard tube." But remember that cardboard should consist of three layers of kraft paper, one of which is a central layer of corrugated paper.

Paper tube and core types

While paper tubes, cores, and related products are made from wound layers of paper or paperboard. Paper tubes or cores can consist of one, two, or more layers of brown kraft paper or paperboard.

The innermost layer or layers, the liner, and the outermost layer, the wrap, can consist of different materials (aluminum foil, film, etc.) or specialty papers. Technical papers and materials can provide water resistance, graphics or labels, or specific colors.

The two main types of paper tubes and cores include spiral-wound and crimped or parallel-wound tubes. Coil-wound paper tubes are used in applications that require high bending strength, compressibility, and dynamic strength.

Spiral wound paper tubes have the paper layers wound at an angle to the tube shaft. In a spiral wound tube, the two outer edges of the paper strip are wound parallel to the tube shaft or at a 90-degree angle.

Paper tubes have thin walls and are widely used as containers or packaging for products.

A paper core is essentially a thick-walled paper tube. The walls of paper cores are much thicker, so they can be used to roll webs or sheets of flexible material into rolls in converting operations.

Paper machines produce huge paper rolls (also known as machine rolls, jumbo rolls, tambour rolls or mother rolls) that are rotated and slit or converted into smaller narrower rolls on winders with paperboard cores. Similar jumbo-size rolls are transformed into plastic film, aluminum foil, textile, and coated abrasive plants.

You'll be surprised to learn that not all paper tubes are geared toward packaging applications. Paper cores can also be machine components. Paper cores used for winding large rolls in paper mills or plastic film production plants are machine elements and require powerful cores that are often curled.

Paper cores for retail or small diameter width rolls of adhesive tape, labels, foil, paper, tissue, or plastic film are packaging and dispensing products that can consist of thinner, spiral-wound cores.

Paper tube material is rotated or sawn into paper or composite cans, shipping tubes, push tubes, pyrotechnic tubes, display poles, conversion cores, concrete piling forms, and other paper tube products.

Large fiber or composite drums and even paper straws are manufactured in a similar winding process. Scroll winders are often used to make combined barrels, a more environmentally friendly alternative to steel barrels. Paper straws are spiral wound at a very high speed.

Shapes of Paper Tubes 

You will find that most paper tubes are cylindrical or circular in cross-section. Still, they can be made using square, oval, hexagonal, triangular, and other custom-shaped winding mandrels. Custom shapes help shape paper tubes to fit a part or product precisely while eliminating wasted space and extra spacers or packaging materials.

A tapered paper tube or paper cone is wound with a tapered mandrel. Paper cones are used as yarn carriers in the textile industry.

In some applications, you may want your paper tubes to be cut along their length or cut into half shells to facilitate covering large rolls for protection. They can be reattached with tape or h-paper. You may find it easier to cover a paper roll or coiled steel roll with a half shell than to slide the paper roll into a large protective paper tube.

How paper tubes are made

Step 1: Making ribbons from paper 

The first step is to convert recycled cardboard sheets and lining material into the ribbon. They are then stacked together to form vast rolls of ribbon that look like poker chip bags. The thicker the tube you want, the more you need ribbon rolls.

Step 2: Stickers

The next step is to use industrial glue to stick the paper ribbons together in an overlapping fashion. Sticky glue is used between each layer to ensure the paper retains its shape. This process is known as a laminated glue system. Any excess paper is scraped back and recycled.

Step 3: Wrap into a pile

Once the paper is well glued together, it is passed through a mandrel (a metal rod used to wind it). You can adjust the outer wheel of the mandrel to change the diameter of the paper tube. This process is called "winding." It gives the paper tube a spherical shape.

Step 4: Cutting the paper tube

The final step is to cut the long length of the paper tube to the exact pre-determined size as required. After that, the paper tubes are customized with decorative patterns and colored paper bands to meet the customer's branding preferences.

Six advantages of paper tube packaging

Safety and Durability

Paper tube packaging provides secure cushioning for fragile items, reducing the chance of damage during shipping. It protects them from external weather elements, such as sunlight and wind. Its reliable security and durability make paper tubes increasingly popular in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.


The packaging industry is moving more sustainably, and paper tubes are 100% eco-friendly. They are biodegradable and recyclable, saving energy and resources you would otherwise need for new packaging. Using eco-friendly packaging will give your business a competitive edge in the marketplace and reduce your carbon footprint.

Lightweight and easy to transport

Unlike packaging materials made of plastic, wood, and metal, paper tubes are lightweight and easy to transport. Since you can stack multiple paper tubes on top of each other, they take up much less space during transportation.

Safe for food packaging

Plastic is unsafe for packaging food because the liner can react with the contents and contaminate it. Heating food wrapped in plastic in a microwave oven further increases the risk of contamination. Meanwhile, paper tubes are chemically inert and do not react with food, making them a safe packaging alternative for edible items. They also keep food fresh. Snacks, candy, and coffee are some foods that lend themselves to paper tube packaging.


Compared to other alternatives, paper tubes have the lowest packaging costs because their manufacture is not labor or capital-intensive. You can further reduce manufacturing costs using post-consumer recycled cardboard rather than first-use (virgin) fiberboard.

Low packaging costs will help increase your company's profits and overall return on investment. Lower product prices due to lower packaging costs can also help you gain a competitive advantage.

High customizability

Packaging plays a critical role in influencing purchasing decisions. It is the first point of contact between your product and the customer. Paper tubes are highly customizable. Brands can add vibrant colors and branding elements to their packaging to leave a lasting impression on customers. You can also customize the shape and size of the paper tube to meet your requirements.

What makes paper tube packaging eco-friendly?

1. It is one of the best alternatives to plastic packaging

Paper tube packaging is a better alternative to plastic tube packaging because its paper material does not contain any harmful chemicals that we know come with plastic production. This means it doesn't cause unnecessary waste or health risks when exposed to oxygen in the air at the end of its life.

Paper tube packaging is 100% recyclable and can be reused frequently, preventing new materials from entering the packaging distribution. This adheres to the principles of the circular economy rather than the take-make-dispose model. If plastic coating or non-environmental inks are not used, they can be broken down in the compost pile, helping to improve the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio.

Plastic packaging, on the other hand, is usually made from a non-renewable resource - petroleum - and takes thousands of years to break down in landfills.

The USDA considers paper tube packaging renewable because paper production uses 25% less energy than plastic production.

2. It is recyclable (and biodegradable)

Paper tube packaging is considered eco-friendly because it is recyclable. This means it lasts beyond its single use as a packaging product because it can be recycled and remade into a new product, preventing the original material from entering circulation. Paper packaging has the potential to be recycled seven times until the fibers become too short to be recycled.

Recycling is also an easy way for companies to communicate to their customers about end-of-life disposal. Companies don't need much education because most shoppers know how to recycle, thanks to the excellent recycling facilities worldwide.

Paper tube packaging is environmentally friendly because it is biodegradable. While plastic can take 1,000 years or more to degrade into smaller and smaller pieces, paper tube packaging can biodegrade and break down in a much quicker time when added to compost or soil.

A package made of paper will break down into water and carbon dioxide within six weeks of being placed in the ground.

3. It is a sustainable transportation material

Unlike thicker materials such as disposable plastic, paper is lightweight and flexible, making it easy to transport and store.

When you're spending money to ship multiple packages, you better want the material to be lightweight and flexible because the lighter your packages are, the cheaper your shipping costs will be. The less space your packages will take up in transit.

If you're a small business, this helps keep costs at a more sustainable level, which also helps reduce your business' overall carbon footprint for shipping and delivery. It's a win, win.

4. It doesn't have an odor

One of the biggest complaints about plastic is that it has a distinctive odor. This odor is caused by a melamine chemical, which makes plastic stronger, more flexible, and less likely to break. The pungent smell of plastic lingers for years after it has been discarded.

Paper tube packaging has no odor because it is made of natural materials that do not allow for odor. Paper takes more than 5 years to oxidize and emit an odor, making it a long-lasting material.

Paper tubes are made from plant-based materials and are 100% biodegradable and compostable. Paper tubes can be safely used in numerous products such as candles, cosmetics, hair products, toothpaste, etc.

5. It has a longer shelf life

Because they are made from plant-based rather than artificial materials, paper tubes can stand the test of time on the shelf. When they come in contact with moisture, the paper tube packaging will dry out without causing any damage to the material. Plastic, on the other hand, reacts to humidity, which increases the risk of bacterial growth and mold.

Suppose you want to store perishable products such as tea or coffee in paper tubes, dobbpking stocks paper tubes with an SGS-tested and certified food-safe liner inside. This means they will be tightly sealed to keep your products fresh.

In summary

Paper tube packaging is a great eco-friendly alternative to disposable packaging. It's lightweight and flexible, making it easier and cheaper to transport, and it's 100% recyclable, making it an environmentally responsible option for brands.

Previous article

Want to customize your tube or box packaging solution? Leave your needs below and our experts will contact you soon!