Corrugated Packaging Printing: Direct or Pre-Print?

Corrugated Packaging Printing: Direct or Pre-Print?

Corrugated Packaging Printing

Corrugated packaging is the most common method to package products and provides durability with protection during shipping and storage. Printing on corrugated has evolved over the years with advanced printing technologies that address prior challenges. Printers in years past had to settle for low-resolution inks when printing on a spongy finish that absorbed Inc. and material that could be easily crushed. This produced images with limited consumer appeal.

Printing technologies today, such as corrugated printing with a flexo press, have revolutionized the corrugated packaging printing industry for increased visibility and brand awareness.

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The Capabilities of Flexography Printing

There are a wide variety of materials and processes available for printing on corrugated material, the most common types of printing on corrugated include:

  • Flexography (flexo press)
  • Digital printing
  • Screen printing
  • Offset lithography (litho)

Due to the wide versatility and efficiency of flexographic printing, this has become the most common method for brands to print on corrugated to experience many benefits such as increased capabilities, product visibility and brand awareness. Corrugated printing today allows for efficient, vibrant colors with a combination of durability and material lightness.

Flexo Corrugated Packaging Printing Methods

Flexographic printing transfers text or graphics onto a moving substrate with cylinders or plates, applying ink directly onto the image carrier as it rotates. Flexo printing provides versatility to print on corrugated materials with either of the two primary methods:

  • Direct Printing – printing directly on the corrugated final product
  • Pre-printing – printing on a different substrate which is then laminated to the final corrugated product

Flexographic printing provides the versatility to handle either method of corrugated packaging printing. Flexo printing provides efficiency and resilience to print on either absorbent or nonabsorbent materials with quick-drying inks. The high-speed efficiency of flexographic printing makes it ideal for high-volume, customized corrugated printing jobs.

Corrugated Products Ideal for Flexo Printing

You may not pay much attention to the printing on the corrugated packages you come into contact with every single day, although if you run into these same packages as plain cardboard boxes without any printing at all, you would wonder what was inside. Corrugated printing is a big industry and provides solutions to a wide range of products and applications. Some examples of corrugated printing which are ideal for flexo printing processes include:

  • Subscription boxes
  • Shipping boxes
  • In-store displays
  • Point-of-purchase displays
  • Foods and snacks
  • Clothing boxes
  • Bakery goods
  • Toys
  • many other products

Flexible printing provides solutions for printing on these corrugated types of boxes and many others. Some of the most important considerations when flexo printing on corrugated include the image carrier materials in the number of carriers required, artwork specifications, type of ink, and setup considerations. Many corrugated printing projects today require additional finishing solutions such as window patching.

Window patching is common in many corrugated printing techniques where a thin, plastic, see-through film is applied to a die-cut window to showcase the products inside.

In-Line Window Patching Equipment

Window patching increases product visibility and brand awareness for enhanced consumer appeal, allowing customers to see what is inside before purchasing. Window patching allows brands to showcase luxury products, high-quality craftsmanship, artwork, and more. Window patching is performed with specialized equipment like the Vista® Window Patcher in-line window patching equipment from Tamarack® Products.

Tamarack® Products is an industry-leading manufacturer of specialty finishing equipment customized for modular and scalable flexo printing solutions. We offer more than 50 years of experience designing, engineering, and manufacturing high-quality, precision in-line, and off-line finishing solutions, including window patching, RFID insertion, affixing susceptor patches, liners, and more for short-run and high-volume folding carton jobs. Contactus with any questions and to learn more about the most efficient finishing method for your flexo corrugated printing project.


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