Folding and Gluing Best Practices

Are you creating packaging for a product? Do you need a branded folder to hold your marketing materials? Or are you looking for samples for your next direct mail campaign? Then you need to know about folding and gluing!

Folding and gluing are methods used to take a flat piece of material and transform it into a three-dimensional object. To achieve a final product, a flat sheet of material is cut into a shape, fold lines are scored, and glue is applied to connect the folded edges. Common uses for folding and gluing include:

  • Envelopes
  • Folders
  • Boxes and cartons
  • Product packaging
  • Direct mail marketing

If you are interested in using folding and gluing for your next project, here are some best practices for you to keep in mind.

Choose the Right Materials

Several different kinds of materials can be used for folding and gluing. You can use materials like papers, cardboards or even plastics. Choosing the right material for your project depends on what you want to create.

  • Cardboard and heavy cardstock are good options for boxes and cartons.
  • Paper can be used for lightweight product packaging, folders, envelopes or direct mail; however, some weights (thicknesses) may crack rather than fold.
  • Semi-rigid plastics, rather than rigid acrylics, can be folded for sturdy packaging, folders or envelopes.

Once you’ve selected your material, it’s time to think about design.

Your Design Can Be Creative — But Must Be Accurate!

Particularly in the world of packaging, interesting shapes and nested designs are becoming more popular. Packaging designers are beginning to think outside the box, literally. Rather than creating square or rectangular product packaging, new and exciting shapes are becoming the norm. However, to create these complicated shapes, a high degree of accuracy is essential. We use automated machines for cutting, scoring and gluing, so a careful and accurate design can save costly mistakes.

All measurements must be accurate in order to create the perfect shape. Be sure to use a precise ruler or a calibrated steel rule. If your design uses traditional die cuts or laser cutting, double-check all spacing and measurements.

An important part of the design is setting score lines. These are the lines along which the material will be folded. Score lines are creased by machinery before construction to avoid cracking. For your design to take shape, these score lines need to be in the right place.

Embellishments Add Protection and Interest

There are many print finishing embellishments to choose from. Some can even help protect your design as it goes through the folding and gluing machinery to avoid scuff marks and other flaws.

Varnishes and coatings can protect and add texture. They are available in finishes such as gloss, matte, soft-touch, or you can use a combination. You can apply a varnish all over or only on specific parts.

To add texture and visual depth, consider embossing or die-cutting. Embossing raises parts of the design and can be used to create a sculptural effect. Die-cutting removes part of the material to reveal a contrasting layer below or create a window to view the product inside.

Foil stamping and metallic or glitter coatings reflect light to capture attention. Use foil, glitter or metallic coatings to draw attention to specific elements or on the entire piece.

However, the kinds of embellishments that work for your project depend on the sort of material you are using. For example, not all coatings will work well on plastic. Or, the glue may not stick as well to varnished or coated edges, so it may be best to leave them bare.

Additional Uses for Gluing

In addition to gluing the edges of a piece together, glue can be used to attach other things to the piece.


One of the most common ways to use gluing is to attach a product sample, coupon or another item to a direct mail piece. This is known as tipping. This type of glue is called fugitive glue because it is meant to be temporary and removable.


Covering a die-cut window with a film of clear plastic is another use for gluing. This allows visibility to the product inside while protecting it from damage.

Folding and Gluing Success

Now that you understand the best ways to use folding and gluing, as well as some pitfalls to avoid, it’s time to make your project happen! By following the best practices we’ve outlined here, you’re set up for success. For more tips and tricks, check out our blog


If you needed it yesterday you better contact us today!

We can turn even the most complex jobs around quickly – and without all the time and expense creating dies. Let’s talk about your project!