Inside Sustainable and Branded Packaging

Industry News and Perspectives

20 Oct 2016 Design Options for E-Commerce and Subscription Boxes

custom printing, salazar packaging, One of the most commonly asked questions is “what are my options”? The question is typically asked by people who are interested in enhancing the customer experience and making their boxes stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

With Volume Comes Options

It may seem unfair, but the sad fact is that the number of creative options available to you increase as the order size increases. Some of the most attractive design options are basically cost prohibitive on a cost per piece and/or in terms of preproduction costs. There are no hard and fast rules and much also depends on the graphic design, but here is the way it basically breaks down:

Low speed, low volume digital printing – We do NOT offer this type of printing but it is usually the best option for people needing under 100 boxes or even up to as many as 1,000, especially if the graphic design is more complex with many colors. It may require some art or prep charges but no print plates are necessary, making it ideal for onetime runs. Depending on quantity, it may require a one-time cutting die and that cost can vary from a few hundred to much more depending on the box size and how many impressions are being printed at one time.

Flexographic printing – This is the most popular option and we have a very low but firm 1,000 minimum. It has some limitations in terms of graphics, and each color requires a one-time investment in a print plate and possibly a cutting die. Using one of our over 120 popular stock die sizes eliminates the die cost. Compared to Digital, flexo is always going to be substantially lower in cost.

High speed digital printing – Basically the same pros (great graphics, no plates) and cons (higher cost) as low speed digital but at a reduced cost because it runs at higher speeds. Rarely is this a good option for orders under 1,000 boxes.

Laminated sheet or board – It is often called litho labeling and that tends to be misleading because it is not a label in the traditional sense. The print limitations of flexographic printing directly on corrugated are eliminated by printing on a higher quality substrate using an offset process. That means that many colors, great images, glossy finishes or just about anything is possible. The printing is typically done on an 80# paper for a top sheet lamination application or SBS board, usually 10 pt, for an Asitrade type lamination. It can get complicated, but we make it simple and affordable.

Due to board minimums, your minimum will vary from around 3,000 to as much as 8,000, depending on the size of the box being printed. The cost will be higher than standard flexo, but the graphic possibilities are unlimited. The cost of traditional flexo print plates is also avoided, which can really add up on a four or five color design.

Which Printing Process is Best for You?

Our branded packaging advisors are well trained and experienced to help you make that decision. The factors that will be considered include:

  • Order quantity
  • Order frequency (one time or repeating)
  • Graphic design
  • Timetable
  • Cost per box limitations
  • Budget for pre-production costs

By offering a complete menu of printing options, after all factors are considered, we are sure to guide you to the best solution for your specific application. Contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 815-609-3600 for a confidential, no cost, and no obligation application review.

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22 Sep 2016 White Printing on Kraft (Brown) Corrugated Boxes

3-shades-of-white-on-kraft-boxesWhen I first started blogging about sustainable and branded packaging my concern was that I would run out of material after a few months. However, hundreds of posts and several years later, we are still going strong, mostly because of great questions and inquiries from customers and potential customers.

This week I was once again told by a customer that a different supplier had indicated “you cannot direct print white on Kraft corrugated board.” So I decided it would be a great blog post topic to correct this common misconception.

White on Kraft Branding – Tricky But Not Impossible

A quick visit to our gallery on our website shows several boxes that are printed white on Kraft, so obviously it can be done. The challenge is creating the specific shade of white a customer may want. We have successfully printed three slightly different versions:

  1. Low density – a transparent, almost white wash look which is the common preference for many ecofriendly products because of its soft, “natural” look.
  2. Medium density – semi opaque for slightly sharper graphics
  3. High density – a pure white that we can apply heavily to achieve almost full opacity for greatest white to Kraft color contrast.

To accomplish the third (high intensity) level we typically use an ink formulation that our people helped develop. Our ink supplier has named it “Salazar White” because it differs from most other whites in that opacity is achieved without reducing the overall whiteness. In other words, we do not create opacity by making the white more gray.

inside-reverse-print-on-white-boardTotal Opacity Guarantee?

The big variables in direct printing are board porosity and board color. Natural Kraft board can range from a light brown (tan) to a darker shade of brown and even at times with a hint of red. Just like no two trees are identical, no two boxes are identical. That color difference can be even greater on high recycled content board like we offer.

Corrugated board also varies in porosity which determines how it absorbs ink, a large contributing factor in ink color density. Corrugated is like a sponge and it absorbs humidity. So a box will print differently on a cold January day than it will on a hot and steamy July day. We cannot control how much ink soaks into the board and how much sits on top of the board creating the printed copy. We can try to manage white density and we succeed the vast majority of the time, but there are variables we simply cannot control.

The only way we or anyone can guarantee 100% opacity of white is to reverse print it with a flood coat over white board. By reverse printing the copy, we are actually printing color around the white which is actually not printed at all. The white comes from the board color itself.

If all this sounds complicated, it can be, but not for our branded packaging advisors who have the experience and tools to print just about any color you want on any of our boxes.

Please feel free to contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 815-609-3600 if you have any question on this or any other facet of your branded packaging program.

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13 Sep 2016 Corrugated Box Increase Coming!

rising-corrugated-box-pricesIt has been over three years since the corrugated industry has had an increase so it should not be a total surprise, and I don’t want to be guilty of sounding a false or premature alarm, but it presently looks like an increase is inevitable and imminent.

This is NOT a Formal Increase Announcement…Yet.

All domestic corrugated sheet manufacturers have been announcing increases of between 8 and 10% and it is beginning to trickle down to the companies that make corrugated boxes from that higher priced board. Some stock box suppliers have already announced a 10% increase but we are not there yet. It is our intention to resist and delay any increase as long as possible and not put through an increase that hopefully might be rescinded in part or in whole.

So we are all in a wait-and-see mode and keep in mind, I could be wrong. Please see the bottom related post below where in May 2013 I warned of an increase that was later rolled back. However, now I think an increase is really overdue and the mills are going to get something.

No one likes to see rising prices but I am equally concerned about what this can do to lead times as we head into the busiest time of the packaging year. Any increase, especially a large one can and will cause extended lead times.

Our Advice to All Friends and Customers

Not knowing exactly when an increase on boxes is going to be announced and enforced, my suggestion is to not wait to place any year end or holiday order you may be contemplating. If you wait until the increase becomes fact, it will probably already be too late and the normal lead time could jump quickly from a fairly predictable one to two weeks to as much as four weeks or even more. There will be a big buy-in to avoid any increase and that will make the production line a long one.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 815-609-3600 if you have any questions. We may not have all the answers regarding this industry wide increase but I can assure you we will do everything possible to minimize the negative impact on you and your business.

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01 Sep 2016 Buyers Guide: Branded E-commerce Packaging for Clothing

Mailer boxes AND mailer envelopesThe convenience of buying clothing via the web is obvious since it is essentially a store that is open 24/7. Consumers also love the variety and selection of products available to them, sometimes not available in local retail stores. Add great pricing, in many cases – free shipping, as well as liberal return and exchange policies, and it is no wonder the market is growing by leaps and bounds.

We hear from dozens of sellers of clothing every month and their most common question is – what is the best branded packaging option for me? A mailer box or a mailer envelope? While it is a simple question, the answer can be very complicated, depending on your specific requirements and application.

How to Determine Which Packaging Option is Best For YouCustom branded envelopes and boxes

  1. Quantity? Every branded product has a MOQ or minimum for custom printing and they vary a great deal. For example, the minimum on a poly mailer envelope may be 25,000, for a paper mailer envelope, only a few hundred, and for most boxes, a low 1,000. So to some degree your best option may be determined by how many you are interested in purchasing at one time.
  1. Is your packaging utilitarian or presentation? If your only concern is a shipping container to get the product from point A to point B safely without damage, then almost anything will work. However, if you believe like most of our customers do, E-commerce packaging is all about first impressions and the customer experience begins with the shipping container. I always use the example of a seller of organic cotton baby clothes should NOT ship the product in a plastic, poly mailer envelope.
  1. What is the price point of your product? Experience tells us the expectations of a customer purchasing a twenty dollar tee shirt is obviously different compared to a $200 custom tailored dress shirt. In addition, some materials are more likely to shift and wrinkle in shipment.
  1. What does your graphic design look like? To some degree, the artwork determines the best printing process and the printing process determines the substrate, which ultimately determines the MOQ. So if you are looking for a five-color complex design, a direct print corrugated container is probably not the best choice. As a rule we will usually suggest that your graphics be simple, eye catching, and memorable. Remember, the recipient already knows who you are and has decided to buy from you. Your packaging is a great opportunity to reinforce your brand but it is not a brochure and no one is likely to take the time to “read” or study your packaging.
  1. How Much Flexibility Do You Require? 

In many cases envelopes are a better choice because your order sizes vary a great deal. Unfortunately box sizes are not adjustable, but many envelopes are designed to expand and accommodate a larger product or a larger order.

How about Mailer Boxes and Mailer Envelopes?

It is not always an either/or decision and many of our customers use both envelopes and boxes. They have determined that mailer envelopes work best at a lower cost for smaller orders, die cut corrugated mailers for mid-size orders, and possibly even RSC style shipping boxes for bulk or wholesale orders. We can custom print any of those products so your brand is consistent and distinctive.

We provide a tremendous amount of information and are probably one of the most transparent companies in the packaging industry. However, all of the blog posts and reference materials we make available cannot replace a five minute conversation with one of our branded packaging advisors. Please feel free to contact Salazar Packaging or call us at 815-609-3600 for a no cost, no obligation application review.

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22 Aug 2016 Salazar Packaging Highlighted in Washington Post Article

twp-masthead-415x57Thanks to much hard work and our unique business model, we have been fortunate to receive a lot of press since we launched our business in early 2007. Once again we were fortunate to have been interviewed SalazarMobileLogoand included in a great article about e-commerce packaging that appeared last week in the Washington Post. Here is the Washington Post link.

Evolution or Revolution?

I am not going to say we revolutionized the world of e-commerce branded packaging but we have most certainly brought it into the 21st century by utilizing the internet and our tremendous experience in the packaging industry to make custom printed packaging  “customer friendly” and affordable for just about any company of any size.  Branded packaging is no longer just for large volume packaging buyers but for anyone who wants to print as few as 1,000 boxes or even just a few hundred mailer envelopes.

For the seller, branded packaging requires a lot more time and effort, compared to what is required selling plain, unprinted stock products. In order to make this feasible, we had to create a more efficient process that engages the customer. In other words, we had to take an industry process that was previously overly complex (sometimes intentionally) and simplify it.

The Modern Packaging Buyer  

We also recognized that the typical packaging buyer had changed and that they wanted to be educated, not “sold”. They appreciate openness and transparency, and companies like ours sharing previously guarded information with them so they are able to make an informed decision. When asked, we provide recommendations but most often we assist customers in determining what is best for them, now and later, by sharing our decades of packaging experience.

We added a highly acclaimed gallery to our web site and openly displayed some of our best work. We also created the largest blog post library in the industry, covering just about every branding related topic for e-commerce and subscription boxes. If a customer has a need for more information on white board versus natural Kraft board, Pantone colors, interior protective inserts, or screen printing – we have a blog post for that. We love customers who want to learn and will provide them of all the information they need to be able to make a great decision on their branded packaging.

With Gratitude

We are very grateful to the Washington Post and every customer who has told someone else about the great experience they had working with us. We are thrilled when they show off their boxes to their customers or share via the internet. That is how we have become the company who makes “packaging that communicates” with only one goal – to help you create the best branded packaging possible, at the lowest possible price.


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16 Aug 2016 E-Commerce Boxes with Screen Printing Can Be Dazzling!

two exterior box screensA quick stroll through our Salazar Packaging gallery will show the number of great looking boxes we have helped create for e-commerce and subscription programs. What is not quite as obvious is how many of them wisely used screen printing to help minimize cost and maximize the graphic design impact.

What is Screen Printing on Corrugated?

Essentially the print plate is designed to deliver less ink in select areas to create a lighter (less dense) shade of the same color. For example, it cannot turn navy blue into robin’s egg blue, but you can create two or more shades of the same dark blue without the cost of additional ink colors or print plates. This is most commonly done with black ink to create gray or grayscale copy, but we can do it with any color.

What is the Benefit of Designing with Screens?

As stated above, it opens up the door and imagination in terms of graphic design. Distinct multicolor “looks” are created at minimal expense. By comparison, a second ink color can add as much as 5% and requires another print plate typically costing between $400 and $600. By properly using a screen, the design can be enhanced, creating a two color look, without increasing the cost per box.

SCRA screened interior printHow Much of My Copy and Color Can I Screen?

Generally, if you find yourself screening more than 50% of the copy of any one color, you are probably better off utilizing a second color. Think of screen colors as accent color, in many cases used to create a 3-D type look. It should not be the primary shade being shown or used.

Most screened designs reduce the ink flow and density 50 to 75%, but more or less is possible depending on the color or graphic design. Even though we are not graphic designers, we can refer you to one or will work with yours to make sure you get the design you want at the cost you need.

The Unique, Beautiful Results of Screened Printing   

One color print with screensCheck out the close up of the SCRA box we did where a screen was used inside the box to give the globe in their logo some depth. On the Rockets of Awesome box screens were used to create the gradually fading sky background that would otherwise only be possible with a much more expense print process. One of our old favorites is the Uncommon Goods box where we were able to create a 3-D look drawing of a wine glass, avoiding an expensive photo label. Last but not least. On the Applied Underwriters bobble head tote, screens were used to give their mascot a 3-D look.

Our well trained branded packaging advisors will help you in every facet of your box project including box sizing, internal packaging requirements (foam, pulp, die cut corrugated inserts, etc.) and providing money saving graphic guidance based on the hundreds of boxes we have helped our customers create.

Please contact us via email at Salazar Packaging or call us at 815-609-3600. We look forward to adding you to our long list of customers who are thrilled with their packaging.

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11 Aug 2016 Madison Reed Avoids Packaging Waste by Re-Purposing

A box without a purposeIf you are a regular reader of our blog you probably know we recently had the opportunity to help Madison Reed redesign their primary color kit shipper. (See first related post below) The end result was a smaller, greener shipper that has been a hit with customers.

However, Madison Reed had a large quantity of their previous, larger shipper still on the shelf. Wanting to avoid turning them into packaging waste, and consistent with their company philosophy, they opted for a greener solution and decided to re-purpose the replaced box.

Color Kit Plus Box

They asked us if we could figure out how to use the left over boxes, perhaps to ship out a larger two bottle, color kit version that was currently being shipped in an unbranded, generic box. They were not willing to sacrifice their presentation or standards so we accepted the challenge and figured out how to display the products being shipped within the dimensions of the replaced mailer box.

The custom insert that gives it purposeThe end result is terrific and the die cut insert we created holds every component securely and visible to the consumer. Check out their blog post link on the same project.

Madison Reed + Salazar Packaging = Eco-friendly Packaging    

Packaging that is good for the environment goes far beyond exotic materials and minimalist designs. It is about being creative and most of all about being considerate. The easy thing would have been to throw the old boxes away or perhaps recycled them before they had a chance to serve out their purpose. With a little design help, these boxes will serve Madison Reed’s customers well and their product will be delivered in a nice, attractive, branded box. Thank you Madison Reed!What it looks like fully loaded for the customer

If you want to discuss your shipping container or internal packaging design, whether it is a new application or perhaps a re-design opportunity, please contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 815-609-3600.

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02 Aug 2016 Twelve New Photos Added to Salazar Packaging Gallery

Custom branded envelopes and boxesCustomers and potential customers really enjoy the volume of information we provide to help them learn more about subscription program or e-commerce packaging and the variety of different styles, types and formats we offer. Our blogs at Salazar Packaging and are loaded with money saving advice and information. The objective is always to help our friends make informed decisions on whatever it is they want to accomplish in packaging.

Salazar Packaging Gallery

Since its inception a few years ago, our gallery has been a favorite for visitors to see what is possible in packaging when you add a little ink. They also understand why we are known coast to coast as the company that creates “packaging that communicates”.

There you will also see photos that show some of the most common packaging product options available, to help you decide between:

  • RSC or FOL boxes versus die cut mailers
  • Corrugated boxes versus mailer envelopes
  • Plastic versus paper, mailer envelopes
  • Branding tape versus branding packaging containers


Packaging Photo Gallery Covering New Areas

As always our work is a direct result of the customers and markets we serve. Some of the new additions are:

  • Packaging for textiles and clothing
  • Right sizing applications to reduce waste and costs
  • Pantone (PMS) colors now available in a lower 3,000 MOQ
  • Unusual die cuts with handles for tote and carry applications
  • No cost color change options
  • Packaging for gifts being shipped via UPS, FedEx and USPS


We hope you enjoy these new additions to our site and welcome any questions. Please feel free to contact Salazar Packaging via email or call us at 815-609-3600.

We are grateful to the customers shown in our gallery and the many others who trusted us to create their branded packaging.

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27 Jul 2016 Now Geami’s Green Box Ex-Box® is Even Better and ON SALE!

New, improved Ex BoxOne of the most popular products on our store is the Geami Ex-Box that expands as needed, saving precious space and minimizing inbound shipping cost. We are very glad to announce that once again, the product has been improved and easier for customers to use it.

Perhaps the Greenest, Most Protective Packaging Ever!

It is so convenient to use that sometimes we forget to mention all its other attributes including that it protects even the most fragile products being shipped without oversizing boxes and filling it with foam wraps, bubble wraps or messy foam peanuts that NO ONE cares for. Ex Box material is 100% reusable, recyclable and will biodegrade quickly under almost any disposal conditions.

New and Improved Geami Ex Box

Essentially the unwind system on the Ex Box has been modified to make it easier to use, saving time and eliminating waste. The paper is a little wider at 20” (previously 18”) making the new box dimensions: 24” X 19-1/2” X 8.5”, previously: 20-1/2” X 12” X 7-1/2”. This increased the weight from past 18 pounds to the new, larger system at 25 pounds.

It is still relatively compact, occupies little space (compared to non-expanding product options) and one Ex Box is still the equivalent of FIVE of the old, bulky, pre-expanded Green Wrap product that so many people came to know and love.

Save $15 per Case through September 30, 2016

The brown on white version of the new and improved Ex Box is already in stock and available on our Globe Guard Green Packaging store at this link. A white over white version is expected in a few weeks and will be added as soon as it is available.

All Ex Box products are on sale through the end of September, 2016 at the lowest price ever of $60 from the normal list price of $75 per case.

Please let us know if you have any questions about this or any of our other ecofriendly, stock or custom printed packaging products for e-commerce and subscription boxes.

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20 Jul 2016 ALL stock Cooler Boxes on Closeout!

RSC insulated cooler boxes also available (1)There is no doubt that our foam lined boxes are the greenest temperature controlled packaging solution available anywhere! Unlike other available insulating products, our foam is 100% biodegradable and because it is corn based, if it is not reused or recycled, it will breakdown quickly and harmlessly in any landfill scenario.

However, we determined that it did not make a good “stock” product for our Globe Guard green packaging store. To put it simply, whatever size we had available in stock, it was rarely the correct size needed so it defeated the purpose of a stock program.

Cooler Boxes are Made to Order

Going forward, all of our cooler boxes will be made to any size you need and details will follow, but basically the minimums will be:

  • 200 minimum for any unprinted standard RSC box size
  • 500 for any unprinted custom size RSC box size
  • 1,000 for any custom printed, standard or custom RSC box size

The inserts will still be available in 1”, 1-1/2” or 2” thicknesses and they can be assembled for convenience or ship unassembled for shipping and storage efficiency.

Stock Cooler Boxes Priced to Sellcustom cooler boxes

Our remaining inventory of stock boxes is as follows:

  • 10” x 10” x 10” box size, with 1-1/2” thick foam = inside usable pack area of 7” x 7” x 7”, packed 4 coolers per case, only 6 cases (24 coolers) remaining.

Close out price – $ 24.00 per case ($6.00 per cooler) plus actual shipping cost.

  • 12” x 10” x 8” box size, with 1-1/2” foam – inside pack area of 9” x 7” x 5”, packed 3 coolers per case, only 23 cases (69 coolers) remaining.

Close out price – $24.00 per case ($8.00 per cooler) plus actual shipping cost

  • 12” x 12” x 12” – box size, with 1-1/2” foam – inside pack area of 9” x 9” x 9”, packed 2 coolers per case, only 11 cases (22 coolers) remaining.

Close out price – $18.00 per case ($9.00 per cooler) plus actual shipping cost

Please remember ALL products listed above are subject to prior sale and will not be back ordered at these close out prices. (as of 7/20/16)

Even though these products are shown on our store and more product detail is available there, if you are interested in making a purchase, we suggest you call us at 815-609-3600 rather than try to place your order on line so we can give you up to the minute available inventory. That will also enable us to determine actual shipping cost for your order, shipping to your specific address.

You can call us at the number above with any questions or contact us through our Globe Guard Products web site.

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