You know you need to custom print your boxes. That much is a given. But what type of printing should you use? How do you know if it’s the right option? How does litho printing differ from flexo and digital box printing anyway?
Does it even matter???
Industry research consistently shows that packaging and design really do matter. In fact, a recent study done by Paper and Packaging Board and IPSOS shows that over 70% of consumers all agree on this one thing: packaging design influences their buying decisions. To put it simply: packaging matters. There is a lot riding on it. From the box you decide on, to the logo you print, to what type of printing process you use, it pays to understand your options before you order your custom printed packaging.
But if you feel overwhelmed when you’re at the designing stage of your packaging, we’re here to tell you: you’re not alone. But don’t let being overwhelmed affect your decision to custom print your packaging. Because there’s no denying how important it is to put some thought and care into your packaging design.
What Is Digital Printing?
Digital printing is the process of printing electronic images directly onto a variety of substrates. While there are several more traditional methods of printing — lithography, flexography, letterpress, gravure and others — digital printing is quickly becoming the preferred method for branded boxes.
Why the popularity? Digital box printing eliminates the need for many of the steps associated with conventional printing, such as making color proofs and films and creating plates. Also, when you choose to digital print custom boxes, there’s no need for extra formatting equipment like photo chemicals or film plates. The pre-press stages between the digital document files and the final product are unnecessary.
The stages of digital printing are as follows:
- A file is prepared along with a clear image in a high enough resolution for the print’s dimensions.
- Bleed and crop marks are added to the print job.
- Next, the designer must maximize the use of paper space — a process known as imposition.
- The electronic document file must then be converted to PDF, GIF, TIFF, JPEG or BMP file formats.
What Are My Printing Options?
There are three basic print options you have for your custom printed packaging.
Flexo – Flexo printing is a great option that allows for 3-color printing and is directly applied to the box during the printing process.
Litho – Litho is the premium, magazine-quality, high-end printing process that essentially laminates printed sheets on top of your box. Unlike the other two printing options, lithography is a two-step process and can print up to six colors.
Digital – Digital box printing is an economical process that, like flexo, allows for direct-to-box printing. It is one of the easiest, most economical way to print your custom packaging. It’s also an excellent option for small orders. Read on to learn more about the digital printing process, including more about the differences of digital printing and the benefits and why it may be just the printing process you’ve been looking for.
Why Go the Digital Box Printing Route?
Of all the printing options, digital printing is currently the fastest growing market segment, growing 13% every year. When you want to include custom printing — whether that be a logo, color scheme or specific wording or phrase — on any cardboard mailing box, it can be overwhelming to have to choose between different printing options.
One of the most obvious differences between digital and all other print options is the fact that digital printing doesn’t require tooling or die.
Digital – print applied directly to corrugated material, no cutting dies or print plates needed. Ideal for 1 – 500 boxes per order.
Other reasons to opt for digital printing over alternatives like litho and flexo are:
- Customization: Digital printing is the most economical solution to customize marketing materials, including corrugated boxes, business cards, direct mail pieces, letters and other mailing products.
- Timeliness: Because there are fewer steps in the digital box printing process, the turnaround times for any product are faster.
- Quality: Digital custom printing offers superior quality and consistency compared to other printing methods. Harsh lines are nonexistent, and colors are vibrant and show up correctly. As the prints get further down the line in a batch, you’ll also notice that the print quality of the last box, flyer or card is the same as that of the first.
- Photo-realistic imaging: Digital printed cardboard boxes produce brilliant, photo-realistic imaging that’s ideal for intricate designs and photographs.
- Flexibility: Digital printing technology is easier to integrate into existing lines than analog equipment and can be used on a wider variety of substrates.
When To Go the Digital Box Printing Route?
There are a number of reasons when and why digital may be the best option.
- Samples, short runs
- Lower minimum order requirements – keep in mind, Bolt Boxes never has a minimum requirement, but in general, since there is no cost for tooling
- No need for printing plates
- Quick turnaround time
- Versatile – easy to change colors, design or branding without needed new plates
Sounds Too Good to Be True…Any Downside to Digital Printing?
While digital printing does have some great upsides, there are a few things to keep in mind, too.
- Potential for loss of image quality
- Not great for huge orders
Create Digital Printing Custom Boxes at Bolt Boxes
Whether you need digital box printing or any other printing for your product packaging, Bolt Boxes is here to help.
We offer several printing capabilities under one roof — including digital, litho and flexo printing — to better meet your specifications. For almost 60 years, we’ve been committed to providing our customers with custom printing options for any box type. We offer C-series mailing boxes, RSC standard shipping boxes and end-loading corrugated boxes for all your shipping and mailing needs. With our online configurator, you can easily add logos and other branded images to your digital printed cardboard boxes.
We are printing experts, with a G7 Master Qualification that lets us bring our expertise into your brand efforts. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help execute your branding and custom packaging, taking your branding further than ever before.