22 Sep 2016 White Printing on Kraft (Brown) Corrugated Boxes
When 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:
- Low density – a transparent, almost white wash look which is the common preference for many ecofriendly products because of its soft, “natural” look.
- Medium density – semi opaque for slightly sharper graphics
- 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.
Total 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 630-551-1700 if you have any question on this or any other facet of your branded packaging program.