It is our experience that customers do not appreciate the lead times required for MADE TO ORDER product.
Corrugated Carton Manufacturers require lead times that vary depending on the size of the order, the style of the carton, the board grade and the complexity of the job.
So, I hope the following summary will help you. They will be in order of Lead Time taken from order to delivery. There are two types of manufacturers, one that makes boxes from stock board and one that makes the board and the boxes.
Wise's Boxes - has a 2 to 3 days lead time. (Overnight is not uncommon). The boxes are made from stock board, do not require tooling, any quantity will be made and pricing is prompt.
Visyboard, Orora, Oji and Austcor are the four biggest manufacturers and account for 95% plus of the market. Their lead times are one to three weeks for plain boxes or flexographic print. (Several weeks for offset litho. print) These manufacturers make the Corrugated Cardboard, then they make the boxes. Because they make the Cardboard and have big, fast machines they are normally the cheapest, per box . But because of this, they require a minimum order quantity of board from each order. The minimum is determined by how big the box and the complexity of the job, but in general terms a few hundred boxes. Eg, big boxes may be a couple of hundred and small, fancy print boxes could be a thousand or more.
These big manufacturers provide the following lead times, on average:
Lead time for quoting is about 1 day for regular style boxes and 3 to 4 days for die cut boxes.
Lead time for the making of the board averages 4 days, it depends on how often a board grade is run.
Lead time for the box making is 1 day for each manufacturing step. Eg, some box styles can be cut, printed and glued on one machine. Other box styles require separate machines to perform the same steps.
Lead time for tooling design averages three days - for a printing plate/Stereo or a die forme.
Lead time for tooling manufacture is usually between 3 to 5 days.
Then there is the often overlooked time - leaving it to the last minute to act.
One final point - die formes or knives. Die's are used to cut out the shape of "funny shaped" boxes. These boxes have to have a knife made specific to the size and style required. This is why the lead time for making die cut boxes is 2 to 3 weeks. Please read the Blog Post on Box Making Methods.
Wise's Boxes makes unprinted, brown boxes that do not need a die forme.