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Project Title:

Use of a square piece of cardboard of known dimension to make an open box of

maximum volume.
Problem Statement:
A Square piece of cardboard 24cmx24cm in dimensions is to be made into an open
box by cutting a square from each corner, folding up the flaps to form the sides.
What should be the size of the sides in order that the volume of the box is a

Mathematical Formulation:
The cardboard 24x24cm was divided into 9. Four squares corners were cut out to
form a cross. Each side of the cross was labelled X.
Area of base= Side x Side
X =24-2X
= (24-2X) (24- 2X)
= (24-2x) 2


Let Y = (24 2X)




Area = (Y) 2 = (242X) 2




Since volume
= Area x Height
Therefore volume = X (24-2X) 2
A trial and error was performed with the equation (X (24-2X) 2), Using a range of
numbers from 0-12 as X, and a graph of Height vs. Volume was plotted to
determine the maximum volume of the box.
Let X = 1
Therefore (X (24 2X) 2) = ((1) (24-2(1)) 2)
= (1 (24 2) 2)
= (22) 2
V = 484
Table of Results:
Height (cm)

Volume (cm3)
















It was then established that the graph had a maximum height of four 4cm.

Using Calculus:
1) Expand original formula for V
V= X (24- 2X) 2
= (X) (24-2X) (24-2X)
= (X) (576 -48X -48X +4X2)
= (576X -48X2 -48X2 +4X3)
= (4X3 -96X2+ 576X)

2) Find dV/dX
dV/dX= 12X2 -192X + 576

3) Let dV/dX = 0 (For a turning point), then solve for X

12X2 -192X + 576 = 0
12X2 -192X + 576 = 0divide throughout by 12
X2-16X + 48 =0using Factorization by Inspection
X2 4X 12X + 48= 0
X(X-4) 12 (X-4) = 0
(X-12) (X-4) = 0
Either (X-12) =0 OR

(X-4) =0

When X 12 = 0

When X 4 = 0


X= 4

Therefore Values of X = 12 & 4

4) Find d2V/dX2 (To Test for Maximum/ Minimum)


d2V/dX2, 12X2-192X + 576

d2V/dX2= 24X 192

5) Test values (If d2V/dX2< 0 then Maximum Is Found)

When X = 4

When X = 12

d2V/dX2 = 24(4) 192

d 2V/dX2= 0

= -96
minimum, therefore it is irrelevant.

it is positive it will be a

Since d2V/dX2= (-) Negative, 12X2 -192X + 576 = 0 is a maximum.

Problem Solution:

Using calculus the maximum volume can only be found by cutting the sides to be
4cm each.
Therefore the size of the corners that must be cut off:
A= Side x Side

Maximum Volume of Box = Area x Height

Area = (24 2X) 2 (X)

= 4x4

= (24 2(4)) 2 (4)

=1024cm 3

dV/dX is the gradient of the tangent to the curve. Since the tangent is parallel to
the x axis, this means that dV/dX will be equal to zero. This is why for a turning
point (a.t.p.) dY/dX is equal to zero.
Turning points are the maximum or minimum points.

Application of Solution:
First the trial and error was conducted with the graph and the point of maximum
volume was found to be at a height of 4cm and by using calculus, the height was
again found to be 4cm therefore proving the process of calculus to be valid.
So in industries that create containers for shipping and storage they can use this as
a way to limit the amount of material that will be wasted if the box is not of
maximum volume or if they have a limited amount of material and need to produce
maximum results, thus saving money.

Discussion of Findings:
As height increases volume decreases with the exception of the height of 4cm,
which is the optimum height to arrive at the maximum volume, 1024cm 3.
The range of possible values of X lies between 1 and 11. It cannot be 0 or 12
because these values will give us a volume of 0 meaning it will not be a box making
it useless.
If you are looking to create a box, with maximum volume of the amount of material
you are using, to hold multiple items then you can use the method of differentiation
to determine the length that each side should be in order to achieve a container of
maximum volume with minimum wastage of material.
If you are looking to create a box that can hold multiple small items such as fruits,
then you should use small values of X as the sides. What this does is make the
container short with a wide base with ample room for these items.
If you are looking to create a lidless container to hold tall and thin items such as
pencils, Values of X should be large; the box will be narrow at the base and a tall. As
a result of its small base it will not be able to hold many items.
For future analysis, calculus can also be used to find surface area of objects.

The size of the corners that were cut off were 16 cm 2 each, in order for maximum
volume of the box to be achieved. The maximum volume of this box will be 1024cm 3