Corrugated packing and printing have advanced significantly in recent years. Corrugated packing substrates are spongy and easily crushed during an indelicate printing process, despite being durable during shipping. As a result, companies used to have to settle for product shipping and display boxes that were printed with dull, low-resolution images and text that were less appealing to customers.

Corrugated package printing has been transformed by today’s advanced technologies and materials. Because of these advancements, as well as the ever-increasing capabilities of flexo, brands can use corrugated product boxes to increase product visibility while also promoting brand awareness.ย 

This, of course, is in addition to the material’s combination of lightness and durability, which makes it ideal for shipping. Because of the variety of available processes and materials, several methods for printing on corrugated material have emerged. Corrugated box printing styles include:

  • Flexography (flexo)
  • Offset lithography (litho)
  • Screen printing
  • Digital printing

Flexographic printing has become one of the most widely used due to its versatility.

What Is Flexography Printing?

Flexo printing is a quick printing process that uses quick-drying inks and works on a variety of absorbent and non-absorbent materials. Image carriers are adhered to rolling cylinders and have raised areas that depict your artwork. 

Flexo is widely regarded as the best printing option for high-volume custom corrugated jobs due to its versatility and quick print times. Corrugated products that are suitable for flexo printing include:

  • Shipping boxes
  • Pre-printed liner board
  • In-store displays
  • Subscription boxes
  • Jewelry boxes
  • Point of purchase displays
  • Clothing boxes
  • Bakery boxes
  • + More

Corrugated Packaging Printing Methods

Flexo printing on corrugated materials can be accomplished in two ways:

  1. Direct printing
  2. Pre-printing

Direct printing, as the name implies, prints directly onto the corrugated final product. Pre-printing is the process of printing on a smoother substrate that is then laminated to the final product. The versatile image carriers used in flexo printing can easily handle either method.

Considerations for Flexography Printing on Corrugated Packing

The following are the most important aspects to consider when designing corrugated packaging:

  • Artwork specifications
  • Setup considerations
  • Ink type
  • Image carrier materials
  • The number of image carriers required

These corrugated printing tips will help you budget for product packaging and printing costs, design your artwork, and choose the best printing method.

Color guide for flexography printing inks on corrugated paper

  • Each color requires a different image carrier when flexo printing on corrugated boxes. Four image carriers are required for a four-color print. When designing your artwork, keep the cost of color in mind. Include the cost of purchasing and installing multiple image carriers and inks in your packaging budget.
  • When printing directly on corrugated, some effects, such as gradients and tints, may be difficult if not impossible to achieve. A professional designer’s assistance may be beneficial when preparing an artwork file for direct flexo corrugated printing.
  • Consider the color of your substrate when choosing colors for your design, as the ink will appear darker or lighter when applied to a brown or white surface.
  • With flexography printed directly on corrugated, it is recommended to keep the graphics simple. Photo-finished images can be difficult to render accurately using direct printing methods.
  • The better the registration and quality of your print work, the higher the grade and finer the fluting of the corrugated you choose.
  • You will be able to render more complex designs if you print onto a smooth substrate and then laminate it onto your final product (pre-printing).
  • When finalizing your design, keep in mind that new graphics necessitate the use of new printing image carriers. Love your package design before purchasing image carriers to save money.

Flexo Ink Options for Corrugated Flexo Image Carrier Selection

Choosing the right ink for your project may seem obvious, but ensuring that you have the correct ink for your project will help you avoid poor print results and costly re-works. Different flexographic inks will perform well on various corrugated products. 

The surface tension of the substrate and the rest of the ink chain influence ink compatibility. Water-based inks have the highest surface tension of all and are commonly used for corrugated substrates.

Flexography Image Carrier Choice

Flexographic image carriers are typically made of two materials:

  • Elastomer
  • Photopolymer

Both image carrier fabrications have advantages and disadvantages, but for most corrugated printing jobs, printers prefer elastomer image carriers. The elastomer manufacturing process is not only environmentally friendly, but these image carriers also have superior ink transfer and resiliency, making them more cost-effective for high-volume print jobs required in packaging.

Corrugated Packing Printing Is Possible With Flexography!

Flexo can be used to render high-quality, photo-like images with a pre-printing flexographic process or to print graphic designs directly onto corrugated packages. Flexo can render your company, brand, and products in stunning color while building consumer trust and brand recognition for years to come, thanks to its versatile capabilities, time-tested processes, and durable printing materials.

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