Colour Printed Boxes: What do I Need to Know?
Don’t be bland. Your retail packaging and shipping cartons are an important part of the customer experience. They are often the only physical contact with your company, so they need to reflect your brand.
A pop of colour, a stunning illustration and iconic typography add to the appeal of your packaging and build the excitement for what’s inside. Printed packaging may also be necessary for complying with labelling regulations, aiding handling or assembly or engaging customers in your brand story.
In our series of two articles, we share a few tips to help you have an informed conversation with cardboard packaging suppliers about printed packaging. In this article, we cover:
Print options for cardboard packaging
Colour matching for printed packaging
What are the Print Options for Cardboard Packaging?
The majority of corrugated cardboard is printed using flexographic or lithographic print. Digital and screen printing are also used. The most suitable will depend on the result you wish to achieve and how many boxes you need.
Flexographic print is an economical and environmental option. This is because it can be set up as part of the cardboard box manufacturing process and uses quick-drying, water-based inks. Once the tooling is prepared, the same design can be used time and again for repeat orders.
The challenge with Flexographic print is that it is only suitable for 1-3 colour printing. If your packaging design vision is multi-coloured or requires photographic imagery, lithographic printing is usually advised. This option produces accurate replication of the design, but it takes quite a bit of work to set up. It is therefore only financially viable for high volume orders.
For low volume runs, digital print is more cost-effective, as there is no set-up. The image on a computer is printed onto the boxes, much like a home printer. Digital printing delivers a premium finish with good colour vibrancy, however, there can be issues with colour matching. We will come onto that shortly.
Screen printing is one of the older methods of transferring high resolutions designs onto cardboard boxes. It is effective for bold, graphic prints that are limited to 1 or 2 colours. This is quite a manual process, so is suitable for low volume runs.
Having understood your print requirements, the Aylesbury Box Company team will recommend the most suitable and cost-effective printed packaging option. Using our knowledge of cardboard engineering and print techniques, we can often suggest improvements to the spec or cut the costs.
How to Colour Match Printed Packaging
The colours you see when designing packaging on a screen are produced using the RGB colour model. When digital printing directly from the screen to the packaging, the appearance of the colour can be quite different.
To avoid uncertainty, Pantone or CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) colour reproduction systems are used for printing packaging, as they offer consistent colour matching. Using these print colour systems avoids the risk of finishes that differ from expectations.
To make it easier for designers, there are charts to convert CMYK to Pantone colour codes (and visa versa). Colour extractors on PDF, JPEG, PNG and JPG files can also be useful.
As a final point on colour matching, your need Pantone for fluorescent or metallic effects. These colours cannot be produced using CMYK.
Brown or White Boxes?
The two base colours for cardboard packaging are white or brown. Printing onto white boxes produce the most vivid and accurate colours. Tones can look muted on brown and adjustments to the print colour might be needed to achieve consistent branding. We can assist with this.
Contact us on 01296 436888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.