There is a magical feeling that accompanies running into the living room on Christmas morning and spotting the packages wrapped in bright and colorful paper. The room is lit up in green and red and white as far as the eye can see. A quizzical snowman decorates one package while another is adorned with snowflakes and Christmas trees in a hypnotic pattern. The air is full of anticipation as you gaze at the packages, thinking it’s almost a shame to ruin such a beautiful display. Decorating our presents in whimsical wrapping paper is half the fun of opening them…but have you ever wondered how wrapping paper is made?
The process of manufacturing wrapping paper begins with paper made in special mills made from wood pulp. The pulp is made from softwoods and it is bleached. Prior to the manufacturing process, gift wrapping companies employ graphic designers to consistently churn out unique and eye-catching wrapping paper designs. Once approved, the designs are sent to the printer or paper mill to be used as a template for the creation of wrapping paper designs.
After paper, ink, and special finishes are purchased from paper ink and vendors, a computer file with the digitized form of the design is read by a machine that engraves the design onto a printing cylinder. Once the cylinder is fitted to a printing press, the press will either use a flexography or rotogravure process. The flexography process involves rubber plates fitted to a rotating cylinder while rotogravure utilizes etched cylinders. The printing equipment can apply several colors simultaneously as well as foil and iridescent finishes.
Once the wrapping paper has been printed with the design, it is automatically rolled onto a large roll. The large roll is then transferred to another area of the factory where it is cut and transferred onto smaller rolls. The smaller rolls are shrink-wrapped and bulk-packaged into cartons for shipment. From there, they are shipped anywhere from a local card shop to your favorite big department store and then they finally make their way to under your tree.