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Graphic Design and Printing on Corrugated

Corrugated cartons and board may be printed for all sorts of reason.It may be for identification (Bar code or Reference), Health and safety issues, Legal requirements, Brand uniformity or General point of sale presentation. A Corrugated cases act to ensure that the product is safe in transit, A Printed Corrugated case acts to convey a sales message about the product and the company that makes it. It is true to say that the box creates the perception of the product.

There are many ways to print corrugated board or box's. The actual choice of method is dependant on a number of factors.

Print quality required - Visual impact and finish required
Quantity required
Price / Budget
Board grade used

The main processes for printing on corrugated are flexographic, silkscreen, litho laminated and preprint.

Flexographic (FLEXO) print is the most common form of printing on corrugated. It is economic and highly effective, It is as suitable for fairly small runs as it is for large volumes. It is common to find flexo printed cartons with anything from 1 colour up to 4 colour print, even 6 colour print is now not unusual. Flexo print will give you very good economic graphic quality, the main factors to watch with flexo are registration of multicolour printing, the washboard effect on corrugated and the size of any images or characters to be printed. Standard origination cost would apply.

Silk screen print (Screen) is of a very high quality. It is more expensive than flexo print but the there is a big difference in the quality and finish of screen print. Screen print will generally have a glossy finish and is often used in point of sale and display packaging . It is suitable for most smaller to medium size run quantities and is cost effevtive in this range also. You will general find lower than average origination cost for silk screen print but higher unit costs

Litho laminated print is a very good quality option that bridges the difference between the Flexo and screen print. It is for high quality finishes and medium size runs and is cost effective in this range. Litho Laminated requires a printed sheet to be produced which is then laminated to a sheet of corrugated board and then processed as a box. Expect high origination cost depending on the exact print.

Preprint is a process that is only suitable for volume production . Usually a full reel of paper is pre printed with a design and is then corrugated to produce normal but printed corrugated board which is then converted into a box etc. Expect high origination cost depending on the print detail.

The issue of quantity is simply economics and viability. The various processes all require origination and the cost can be large in some cases. There is a balance between low unit cost and high origination and low unit cost and high origination. The actual quantity of box's requires will also determine what is realistic to produce.

Factors to note with Corrugated board.

The washboard effect is when the shadow of the flute is visible to some degree through the print, With corrugated this is generally inevitable. It can be improves with the type of liner paper and fine fluted board.

Registration is a key concern when multi colour print is required.

If you were printing the above letter "o" in one colour and filling in the middle with another colour this would couse registration problems as you cannot perfectly locate the second colour exactly in the middle position without some overlap.

The quality of print will vary directly with the type of board used. When printing directly on corrugated you are not printing onto a solid surface, in effect you are printed on a spongey material. The general rule is the finer the flute the better the definition of print. The grade and make up of the liner to be printed on will also effect the overall look of the print. Using a clay coated or light coated board will improve visual impact when compared to an ordinary bleached Kraft.

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