What is the Best Printing Process for Corrugated?

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Custom packaging and point-of-purchase displays can amplify your brand and help to drive sales with the right graphic elements. How those graphics are executed matters. Using the appropriate printing processes can bring your branded message to life. However, not all printing processes will provide the same results. Choosing the best printing process will depend on your needs and your budget.

There are three ways to add graphic elements to corrugated: direct print, litho mount, and litho lamination.

  • Direct print is done by printing directly on the corrugated board using flexographic or digital printing. The sheet is die-cut and glued, if necessary, to complete the box or display
  • Litho mount involves printing on a label mounted on double-faced corrugated. The sheet is die-cut and glued, if necessary, to complete the box or display
  • Litho Lamination is where a top sheet is printed and applied to open flutes of single face corrugated. The sheet is die-cut and glued, if necessary, to complete the box or display

It is best to work with your packaging and display vendor to help determine which application is best for your project. There are many variables, including the level of detail required, run size, design change frequency, colors, and budget.

Printing Processes Explained

Below are descriptions of Flexographic, Digital, Litho Mount, and Litho Lamination printing processes.

Flexographic printing

Flexographic printing, sometimes referred to as flexo or relief printing, gets its name from the thin, flexible relief plates used in the printing process. Each color requires its own plate. The plates are wrapped around a cylinder, and ink is transferred directly to the substrate. Flexography is a less expensive method for printing and the most common.

  • Works best for non-photo quality printing; although new technology is changing this
  • Prints on both corrugated and liners
  • Can be used on both shipping boxes and retail packaging
  • Popular for large orders
  • Less expensive than litho-laminated, but design changes require new plates, which can get expensive.

Digital printing

Digital presses accept files directly from the computer, eliminating the need for expensive plates, and set up is virtually non-existent.

  • Offers higher-quality graphics than flexo
  • Ideal for lower volumes
  • Ideal for variable print or if designs change frequently

Litho Mount Printing

Litho mount uses lithographic printing (also called offset printing) to print onto litho labels (typically an 80# coated paper), which are then mounted on double-faced corrugated. Litho printing is a process where the image area is oil receptive and the non-image area is water receptive to keep ink only where it is supposed to be. Ink is transferred from the lithographic plate to a rubber cylinder, which, in turn, transfers the ink to the substrate.

  • Excellent print quality creates a photo-quality image
  • Cost-effective for high volumes
  • Excellent for foil stamping, embossing, spot gloss, or other embellishments
  • Labels can cover the whole box or cover only a portion of the box as a spot label.
  • If artwork changes, plates have to be remade

Litho Lamination Printing

Litho-lamination also uses lithographic printing. However, this process uses less paper because a top sheet is printed with the graphic design and applied to a single face corrugated sheet.  Single face corrugated is made up of one linerboard with a fluted medium.

  • Excellent print quality creates a photo-quality image
  • Uses less paper, so it produces a lighter box than litho mount printing
  • Cost-effective for high volumes
  • Excellent for foil stamping, embossing, spot gloss, or other embellishments
  • If artwork changes, plates have to be remade

Progress Container’s State-of-the-Art Investments Gives You Higher Quality Print at More Affordable Prices

Our Designers are experienced in flexo, litho, and digital print and can work with you to find the best solution for your project. Our dedication to investing in state-of-the-art equipment and intimate knowledge of print processes allow us to help guide you to the appropriate solution to meet your product branding needs.  Our newest Gopfert RDC Evolution HBL 8-color press can print inside and outside in one pass and provides the highest quality corrugated flexo direct print in the world. Its stunning print quality has allowed us to move some of our customers from more expensive 3-step litho lamination to direct print.

Contact us to get started on your next project.

Industrial Packaging Solutions

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What is industrial packaging? Industrial packaging, also called tertiary packaging or transit packaging, is the workhorse of the packaging world, designed to protect your products through the supply chain. Although off-the-shelf boxes and packaging solutions are available, packaging that is custom designed to fit the product’s size, shape, contents, and shipping needs bring additional benefits, such as reduced transportation costs and environmental advantages. It is often thought that industrial packaging focuses solely on form and function over aesthetics; however, industrial packaging made with corrugated board offers a blank canvas for elevating your brand with graphic elements.

Benefits of Customized Industrial Packaging 

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Industrial Packaging

The primary purpose of custom-made industrial packaging is to protect items during shipping and storage. When optimized, it is designed to provide the most protection using the least amount of materials. There are several things to consider when designing industrial packaging:

  • Product – e.g., size, weight, fragility, special needs
  • Supply chain environment – e.g., temperature and humidity changes, how much it is handled, mode of transportation limitations/requirements, whether it is palletized.
  • End-user requirements – e.g., environmental concerns, ease of access and use, compatible with equipment (case erector, forklift)
  • Environmental impact
  • Budget

When customized to meet all the product’s and customer’s needs, the industrial packaging solution will provide optimal product protection and save money. Less packaging materials will be used, and less damage will occur, reducing overall costs. And transportation costs will be reduced through optimal-sized pallet loads (when applicable) or lighter loads from less packing materials.

What Materials are Best for Industrial Packaging?

Creating custom-built industrial packaging relies on a combination of materials, depending on the specific needs of the packaged product. Packaging materials may include:

  • Wood, used mainly for pallets and skids, may be used for containers and partially assembled wooden boxes.
  • Corrugated packaging (sometimes improperly referred to as corrugated cardboard) is the most versatile packaging material, which can be used to replace wood and other bulky materials.
  • Solution kits (foam and corrugated packaging).
  • Combination materials, such as corrugated with foam and some wood

Custom industrial packaging may employ a mix of multiple materials to ensure the integrity of the contents housed within.

Industrial Packaging Vs. Consumer Packaging

Industrial packaging consists of heavy-duty shipping materials meant to add safety and stability to its contents. Consumer packaging or retail packaging is the primary and secondary packaging for a product. Primary packaging comes into direct contact with a product. Primary packaging for some products, such as food, has regulatory label requirements for consumer use that are not required on industrial packaging. Secondary packaging is used to bundle multiple units or products together and typically isn’t designed to provide much protection. Here are some of the key differences between industrial packaging and its retail counterparts.

  • Protection. On the surface, consumer packaging lacks the extra protection found with industrial packaging materials. In contrast, industrial packaging is explicitly created to protect. Consumer packaging offers some protection but must also account for direct retail and consumer needs.
  • Marketing. Consumer goods are often packaged using corrugated boxes, folding cartons (cardboard), plastic bags, or other consumer-friendly containers meant for direct sale, whereas industrial packaging is meant primarily for utility; although, there are plenty of branding opportunities. The most common type of industrial or transport packaging is corrugated. Industrial packaging may also consist of plain and durable wood, plastic, or metal containers.
  • Volume. Consumer-facing goods typically get packaged as a single item or multi-packs. Industrial packaging can be designed to accommodate higher volumes of goods, such as corrugated cases, for safe storage and shipping. Industrial packaging may also be used to package and protect single large parts and components during transit.
  • Costs. Designers trying to minimize the raw materials used in your packaging solution can save costs. A customized package designed for the product being shipped saves costs by using less material and preventing the damage that can occur from stock packaging.

In rare instances, industrial packaging and consumer packaging intersect. This is usually found in only a select handful of industries, such as construction products and agriculture, where the need for product branding is minimal.

Progress Container Display Makes Industrial Packaging Design Simple

At Progress Container, we specialize in designing and fabricating high-quality, custom-fit shipping solutions. Our team has extensive experience developing comprehensive industrial packaging solutions for manufactured goods across industries. We can accommodate volumes ranging from prototypes and sample runs to large-volume production. 

To see how our custom-designed industrial packaging solutions can protect your products during shipping and storage, please contact us today. 

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