Terms and glossary concerning paper tube packaging


AQ, short for aqueous coating, is one of common coating options applied on paper tube to protect the printed artwork surface from scratch, and to decelerate yellowing process of the printing. Divided by effect, AQ could be either glossy or matte.
Compared to lamination, aqueous coating (AQ) is relatively eco-friendly while achieving the same protective finish.

Aluminum foil is a kind of common lining option that is used in paper tubes, especially for food packaging, spice & seasoning. The aluminum foil liner provides a protective barrier, which prevents the packaged contents from interacting with the air and moisture from outside.

Literally speaking, air shipping is shipping by airplanes. But if going deeper, there are two major options and the rates of each may be hugely different- by airlines like EK, UA, CX airlines or by major couriers such as UPS / DHL / FedEx. This is what we should be aware of when we look into air shipping for paper tubes, as tubes may be big, and the shipping cost could be very expensive.

By airlines is handled by airlines and related logistics company from China to destination country airport, and the final delivery is still taken care of by local UPS / FedEx etc. Usually this air shipping option includes customs clearance, related handling and duties & taxes. Shipping usually takes a few days longer.

By major couriers is handled by UPS / DHL / FedEx for the whole shipping process, from pick-up in China to delivery in destination country. With this option, customer may have to provide cargo documents and clear customs by themselves. And customs taxes and duties would be decided by customs authorities and paid as per real cargo value. Normally this air shipping option is more expensive but faster and stable in terms of shipping timeliness and efficiency.


CMYK, respectively stand for cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y) and key (black). These are the 4 basic pigment ink colors used to create any other color as per specific percentage of ink in printing industry.
CMYK printing could be simply called as 4 color (full color) printing or 4 color process, which is the most commonly used color scheme in custom printing for paper tubes.

Curl-and-disc is a common closure for lids and bottoms of paper tube packaging. It is another saying for rolled-edge.

Basically cutter guide is a structural drawing of paper tube, which indicates the essential sizing, configuration and structures. After all the graphics and art elements are applied onto this framework, the final artwork / graphics design is done, which could be used for printing.


Die-cut window is a display window die cut on the paper tube, so that the packaged product could be displayed and showcased from outside.
This creative design allows customers to see before purchase, which may enhance shopping experience and elevate product sales.


Embossing is a type of finish that makes part of the graphics elements (logo / brand name) emboss a little bit to create a three-dimensional effect so that the logos / brand names are highlighted at the first sight.

For printed paper tubes, graphics designs could apply embossing as well to achieve high end packaging look. Embossing is one of the most common surface treatment options used for printing materials such as picture albums, magazines, packaging boxes etc.


FSC paper, or say FSC certified paper, is the type of paper that is made from the trees which are harvested from responsibly managed forests.

In comparison to rolled-edge, flat top is the type of end closure without the edges being rolled up. It is flat and smooth. The bottom could be made to be flat as well.

cardboard tubes with flat tops


Hanging rope is an additional option for paper tubes, which serves for decoration, hanging and organing. 
The hanging rope goes thru the holes that have been die cut on the lid and the tube base. Hanging rope is available in varying material and style to match specific packaging needs.

For more details, please check the portfolio page.


Inside diameter (ID for short) is the measurement of the maximum usable horizontal space inside the tube for product packaging. Basically, inside diameter (ID) should be 2-3mm larger than product diameter / width.

Inside height is measurement of the maximum usable vertical space for product packaging in the tubes. The tube inside height should be 2-3mm larger than packaged product height.

Insert is an additional part put inside the tube to secure and fix the packaged products, avoiding the products from shaking and wiggling. Divided by material, inserts fall into EVA foam insert, EPE foam insert, blister insert, paperboard insert.

Generally, when the cardboard tube packaging is for vape carts, CBD tincture dropper bottles or other cosmetics containers, insert is an ideal add-on option.


Land shipping, relative to air shipping and sea shipping, is the shipping process in which cargoes are transported by trucks or trains. Normally land shipping includes truck shipping and train shipping (China- EU express freight train)
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, shipping rates by sea / air are very expensive, and the shipping capacity is very limited especially in sea shipping. In this case, land shipping is a good alternative, which is more stable and even faster, if the shipping destination is in the Europe.


Mineral ink printing is the printing process that applies petroleum-based ink. It is as opposed to vegetal ink printing which uses plant-based ink like soy ink.

As the mineral ink is oil-based and containing hazardous chemical solvent & pigment, it is kind of toxic, and not eco-friendly enough, which would do harms to human health and environment.

If the tube packaging is for cosmetics, health, beauty and food product packaging, mineral ink should be avoided in printing work. For environmental protection, brand owners should always request their packaging supplier to use environmental-friendly vegetal ink in printing.


Outside diameter (OD for short) is the overall width of paper tube. In principle, inside diameter (ID) plus paper tube thickness equal to outside diameter (OD).

Outside height is the overall height of paper tube. Normally inside height (usable height for product packaging) plus paper thickness & rolled egde space (on both ends) make the outside height.

One-piece paper tube is a tube style (structure) made up of a single tube body and lid / bottom on both ends, which is different from telescopic tube style which consists of inner tube, outer tube and lid / bottom.


PMS is another saying of Pantone Matching System (colors). In printing world, the CMYK 4 color process can create a vast array of color variation.

To maintain color consistency in printed artwork, specific Pantone color code is set to indicate and specify color variation. Basically, the PMS consists of “U” (for uncoated, matte-looking) and “C” (for coated, glossy looking) systems, indicating the paper stock (uncoated or coated paper) where the printing happens.

So make sure the paper stock used for tube packaging aligns with the PMS color code so that the desired graphics design / printing effect would be achieved.

PCW Paper, short for post consumer waste paper, is a kind of recycled paper that is made of post-consumer tree pulp, which had been used for printing or packaging purpose (like our daily magazines, books, flyer, cartons etc.), and then recycled (instead of going to landfills) to make new paper. Generally, the quality is not as good as that of virgin paper stock.

Paper lid is the most commonly used end closure for paper tube, which is made of all paper, either kraft paper, cardboard, greyboard or combination of varying paper stock.


Literally speaking, rolled edge means that the edges of the paper tube lids / bottoms are curled to be smooth and nice-looking.


Soy ink printing is the printing process that applies soy-based ink instead of petroleum-based or oil-based ink, which is considered to be eco-friendly.

When it comes to tube packaging for health, cosmetics and food stuff, the printing work for paper tubes is supposed to be waste-free and food grade rated.

In this case, soy ink printing is a great green printing solution for these applications.

Set-up fee, or say set-up cost, is the minimum cost for every single production batch of paper tubes. To customize a paper tube project, there are a couple of aspects involved such as tooling, printing, labor work, transportation etc. Every aspect has a minimum charge.

For example, for qty. 1000 and qty. 3000 pieces, the printing factory may charge us the same (if the tube is not very big). For labor cost, it is the same case. All these minimum costs in varying aspects add up to be set-up cost.

So, in most cases, if the qty. is small, the unit price is much higher.


Telescoping (telescopic) cardboard tube could be either two-piece paper tube or three-piece paper tube (full telescoping). Part of the tubes (bottom / base) sleeves inside the other parts (lid / caps).

Tinplate lid is a type of metal end closure used for paper tubes and cardboard cylinder packaging.

The tin coated steel caps, featuring a glossy and mirror-like appearance, are very widely used for cosmetics packaging, beverage like loose leaf tea tubes, and wine, liquor and spirits bottle tube packaging due to its premium rigidity and air-tightness.

Two-piece paper tubes consist of a base and a lid, creating a hatbox packaging style.


Uncoated paper stock is a type of paper that is without a coating on them. Due to the lack of the covering on the surface, uncoated paper tends to absorb more ink in printing, if compared to coated paper stock.
Uncoated paper includes kraft paper (white kraft, brown kraft), cardboard (white cardboard, black cardboard), grey board etc, which are kind of warm, matte-looking.


Virgin paper, or say virgin pulp, is the paper type which is made of original tree pulps and not including or carrying any recycled tree fibers.
Compared to post-consumer (recycled) paper, virgin paper is presumed to be higher quality in strength, better printing result, whiteness etc.


Wall thickness is one-sided paper thickness of one single tube circle. For lots of product packaging cases, wall thickness is 1mm. So one circle is generally 2mm thick.

And paper tube consists of inner tube and outer tube (2 tube circles), so in most cases, the overall paper tube thickness would be 4mm.

For fragile items like wine bottle, glass cups and bowl packaging, the wall thickness is recommended to be minimum 1.5mm, which means the paper tube thickness would be 6mm to provide ensured rigidity.

Wax paper is kind of liner commonly used in paper tubes for lip balm, lipstick, deodorant, lotion, solid perfume packaging.
The wax paper helps create a greaseproof and oil-resistant barrier inside the tube, avoiding the oil / balm permeating into the paper and cardboard.

Wax paper is plant-based and eco-friendly, made of paper fiber plus soy wax, which is also used in food packaging, like paper wrap for hamburger. So it is a popular lining option in push up paper tubes for cosmetics and beauty packaging.