There are several printing methods for corrugated packaging and the three main ones are flexographic, digital and lithographic, each with its advantages and disadvantages.
Flexographic printing is the most used printing method for corrugated boxes. It requires a flexible printing plate that is mounted to a large cylinder, which rotates as corrugated board is fed through, transferring your design directly onto the box. This method of printing is great for flood coating and printing edge to edge, but isn’t ideal if you have more than 2-3 colours in your artwork. A great option with flexo printing is flood coating a box in one colour and leaving your logo to show through in the white or kraft of the corrugate, something like the image below.
With digital printing the design is printed directly onto the corrugated surface and it’s great for small quantity printing. We use this method for smaller orders, because it doesn’t require printing plates, and allows the full breadth of CMYK colours. However, it does have its disadvantages. If you’re flooding the box in solid colour, or have big blocks of colour in your artwork, there may be inconsistencies in colour or white lines. Also direct printing onto the corrugated board will lead to some of the ink getting absorbed, which could result in a slightly muted look. Check out our blog on colour for more information on colour in printing. Digital printing is great for boxes with a pattern like this:
Lithographic printing is a more expensive option compared to flexo or digital printing. The image/design is printed onto coated or uncoated paper, which is then laminated to sheets of corrugate, and cut to custom size. This method allows you to flood coat your box and obtain a smoother and semi-gloss finish. We recommen`d litho for orders of 1000 units or above. Litho printing can achieve a glossier finish similar to this:
We hope you now have a better understanding of these different printing methods and their capabilities, to help you make more informed decisions about your packaging design!
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