Call us today: (800) 232-8108   |   CONTACT |   REQUEST FOR QUOTE

3 Options for Printing on Corrugated Boxes

The world of corrugated packaging provides endless opportunities for customization and branding. However, with so many options for printing, board grades, box styles, and designs, it can be challenging to find the right option for you. To assist with your decision-making process, we have assembled a brief overview of three common print options for corrugated packaging:

1. Direct Printing (Flexography)

Also known as flexographic printing, the direct print method is the most common selection for corrugated packaging. Flexography uses flexible plates to transfer images and fast-drying water-based inks that are transferred via an anilox roll to the plates. The anilox roll is engraved with cells that are filled with ink where the ink is then transferred to the plates and onto the final corrugated products as it runs through a machine.

With inside/outside print options, and up to 4 colors, flexography offers clean printing and branding on boxes and is best suitable for high-volume runs. It is also a cost-effective method with quick and easy set up times on machines. Note that with this option however, the purchase of a print plate is required prior to the first run, with design details and any changes to the printing likely requiring a new or revised printing plate.

Overall, direct printing provides an accurate and cost-effective approach to custom corrugated printing, most suitable for higher volume runs. It is also the most used method across the industry.  

2. Labeling (Offset Lithography)

Labeling, also referred to as offset printing or lithography, is a powerful, highly flexible solution to help you stay true to your brand. The litho design is broken down into a series of color-specific plates to develop the initial label. Once developed, these plates are mounted onto a plate cylinder where the detailed images accept ink from rollers, and non-image areas repel the ink, creating a clear and concise branded label.

From there, the finished print label is laminated onto the corrugated board with specific machinery, then cut and assembled. Labeling provides significant flexibility for branding choices, with more clarity and higher resolution options than direct printing. Additionally, this method is better suited for large volume runs with projects seeking higher resolution printing due to the relative ease-of-use in set up and run speeds. However, labeling is a more expensive option than direct print due to additional laminating runs and the cost of separate labels prior to machine runs. It is also more limited in sizing than direct.

3. Digital Printing

Digital printing is relatively new to the corrugated market and is rapidly evolving across the industry. Much like desktop printers, digital presses accept digital files, eliminating the need for plates, labels, or additional materials. The specific uploaded files with detailed graphic designs are simply uploaded to the digital press and ready to run. Like litho labeling, digital printing offers the highest resolution branding option on corrugated, with endless options for a colorful display that “pops.”

Because setup times and plate exchanges are virtually eliminated with digital, it is practical for order quantities to be greatly reduced, presenting more options for shorter runs, as well as samples and displays. Additionally, there are no up-front investments in printing plates or pre-printed labels. Digital printing also more easily allows for revisions and customizations of prior designs. While digital offers specific benefits that the other two options cannot, this is a relatively costly option.

Digital printing on corrugated is typically most suitable for those looking for high-resolution and highly customizable graphics with lower quantity box runs.

As you can see, when it comes to selecting the best option for your corrugated printing needs, cost, speed, and quality are all factors for consideration. If further questions as you evaluate the optimal choice, our experienced team is here to help.

Additionally, you can upload your branded graphics and logo to get started today, utilizing our free custom design tool.

About Rusken: Rusken is a dynamic, modern integrated packaging company with locations throughout the Southeast United States. With fourteen (14) facilities in seven (7) states, Rusken is a forward-looking regional organization. Headquartered in Cullman, Alabama, Rusken has experienced exponential growth over the last decade. This success is driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, focus on family-based values and a commitment to a truly remarkable customer experience. From standard corrugated boxes to highly customized packaging solutions that require robust design-work, colorful printing and hand finishing, the good people behind the Rusken name are passionate about quality, delivery and customer smiles.