Choosing the perfect print for your custom product packaging

As we all know, the packaging a product comes in can be just as important as the package itself. And there are a number of ways you can create something truly unique when it comes to custom product packaging. We’ve previously touched upon the principles of product packaging and the packaging trends for 2022; and today we would like to give more thought to the perfect printing methods used on custom product packaging. Let’s take a look:

Flexographic printing

Operating in a similar way to a letter press, flexographic printing involves creating a custom-made printing plate attached to a rotating cylinder, to press down and form the chosen design. This process uses a quick drying water-based ink which can be applied to a wide range of surfaces, such as cardboard. It is a very common and popular form of printing owing to its speed and low cost.

After the initial cost of the printing plates, further orders have a much lower cost per printed carton box, so it’s the ideal choice for higher volume printing. The turnaround time is also quicker once the plates are produced, averaging around 7-10 working days. However, there are some limitations; printing plates have the potential to misalign a few mm, leaving greater room for printing errors, so it is only really suitable for simpler print styles and many printers will only print up to 2x colours with this form of printing.

A simple one or two colour design can create a truly striking visual and are particularly popular with eco-friendly companies. You can even create a reverse print design to achieve higher impact.

Digital printing

As the name suggests, this form of printing involves the chosen design being digitally printed directly onto the packaging. The design and style allow for a greater level of freedom, and using CMYK can mean printing in an array of colour options too! It is a great choice for more intricate and colourful designs.

This freedom does tend to result in more time for the printing process, however, and the price increases as the order quantity increases. It is therefore better placed for shorter print runs (under 100).

It’s also worth noting that both digital and flexographic printing are printed directly onto the custom product packaging so the colours sink into the material and can appear less vibrant.

Lithographic printing

Taking more time than both Flexographic and Digital printing, the Lithographic printing process is formed by printing onto a top liner paper which is then laminated onto the chosen custom product packaging. The initial liner paper print uses a lithograph which has a positive and a negative printing plate; one that absorbs water and one that absorbs oil paint.

The costs of the print plates and overall production means lithographic printing has a higher minimum order quantity (around 500) and a higher overall cost to produce. It does, however, offer the highest quality print, using a full colour print, allowing for specific pantones to be used.

Images are more vibrant with lithographic printing than flexo and digital and the lamination provides a smooth and shiny surface. Overall, it offers a higher quality final product.

Foil printing

A printing technique similar to a letterpress and engraving where heat, pressure, foil and metal is applied to another material to achieve a desired aesthetic finish. Similar to embossing or debossing, foil stamping can create unique printed designs and can be created in any colour. There are a number of different foil options, such as: metallic foil, pigment foil and holographic foil.

Foil printing can be done traditionally and digitally. Traditional foil printing is etched onto a metal plate, and is pressed down onto the surface – this may require a few indentations to achieve the desired effect. Digital foil printing uses a specific type of foil that adheres to the surface of the design – so there is no need for multiple passes to achieve the desired effect.

It is a great option to create some real stand out on your printed carton boxes and adds a whole new level of sophistication to your custom product packaging. It does, however, tend to be at a higher cost.

Choose Birch Print for your packaging needs  

Custom product packaging is a vital tool when it comes to marketing your business. If you’re looking to create some product packaging to create a lasting impression or if you’re looking for some help and inspiration to transform your customer experience, we at Birch Print would love to hear from you! We understand product packaging is an important part of the customer experience and when a retailer takes extra effort to package their products, it positively resonates with customers. We are a print management company, specialising in product packaging and print fulfilment; our printed packaging services cater for all requirements, from branded and personalised packaging, through to luxury retail packaging. Call us on 0115 951 2468 or email us at:  [email protected] and our team of commercial printing consultants will be happy to help!

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