Corrugated and Paperboard Tag

11 Oct 2017 The Difference Between Boxes and Cartons

The Difference Between Boxes and Cartons

3 Color Folding Carton, Salazar Packaging, e-commerce packagingThe packaging industry is filled with a variety of terms; some are interchangeable, and some are not. There is also a lot of information available on the internet and not all of it is accurate so we are not surprised when we get inquiries for information on boxes when they really want is a carton and vice versa.

General guideline on paper packaging containers

Packaging containers typically come in variations of two distinct substrates:

Paperboard –  usually single ply, thin and most popular construction are folding cartons (aka chip board boxes) and rigid wall boxes. Your standard cereal box or FedEx envelope are great examples of paperboard material for packaging. We usually describe this as packaging that is NOT designed for shipping but intended for retail, display applications.

Corrugated boxes printed inside and out, Salazar Packaging, e-commerce packagingCorrugated board – this is the material that is usually thicker because it is multiple layers of paper with a fluted interior layer. It is designed to be a shipping container, and will hold up well whether you ship UPS, USPS, or FedEx. This board can be made into a wide variety of structural designs including RSC shipping boxes and mailer boxes.

Branding Your Corrugated and Paperboard Packaging

Both are available custom printed, though the type of printing that is available varies. Corrugated is primarily printed using a flexographic print process, directly to the board itself, limiting the number of colors and types of graphics that can be printed on it. Digital printing is becoming more common place and while digital printing is usually more expensive, it can make it possible to reproduce virtually any type of design you want.

Custom printing of paperboard is usually offset printed and also permits a wide range of graphics and color, though higher minimums may apply.

Application Specific Design      

There are no easy or standard answers and every application is a little different. Order volume also plays a major factor, since some board and printing options are available and affordable at 10,000 but perhaps not at 1,000.

Some sizes and designs require tooling (for example – die cut mailers) and others do not, such as RSC style shipping boxes. Different board grades and thicknesses are available for both paperboard and corrugated board.

If you are not sure which is the best material substrate for your project, please contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700. One of our experienced branded packaging advisors will be glad to assist you and answer any questions you may have.

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07 Mar 2017 Are Brown Boxes More Eco-friendly Than White Boxes?

kraft box, white box, eco-friendly, Are Brown Boxes More Eco-friendly Than White Boxes?

That is most definitely a FAQ from our green minded customers and the answer is definitely yes, probably, in most cases. If that answer seems vague or non-committal, it is by design. The fact is there are many different ways to look at any packaging product’s greenness, and even more ways we can impact the natural sustainable features of packaging by what we do to it. Allow me to explain.

Green Packaging has always been a matter of perspective

Some people look at packaging strictly from a source perspective. What percentage of it is made of recycled content and what is that source. Post-consumer waste is rated much higher (greener) than post production waste, and that is better than virgin material.

Others are more concerned about packaging in terms of how easily it can be reused or if necessary, how it can be disposed of and/or recycled. As most people know, paper based packaging is typically much easier to recycle compared to plastic based packaging but it varies depending on a number of factors including type, and how it is printed or laminated.

Enhancing the Customer Experience

Making the box look sharp does not always mean making it more expensive or complicated. We apply the KISS principle as much as possible because we know that over designing a shipping box adds cost and in most cases makes it less eco-friendly. Adding costly finishes to any box almost always has a negative impact on how it can be recycled and re-pulped so we prefer to increase the proverbial “WOW factor” by using screens, well printed colors, and last but not least – good substrates. No one can create a great looking print on cheap or substandard board, but it does not have to be expensive; just consistent.

Why we usually suggest brown board for a box exterior

MOST board with a white side in or out, is NOT 100% recycled content. White is typically virgin paper, that does not make it bad, in fact it makes for a great printing surface, but it is definitely not green if the goal is to use as much recycled content as possible.

In addition to the obvious green benefit, brown board is typically 5 to 6% less expensive compared to white board. Darker colors, such as dark blue, brown, and black print beautifully over natural Kraft Board, as do lighter colors like white and most pastels. However, the main reason we usually suggest brown board has nothing to do with relative greenness or material cost.

Simply put – brown boxes arrive looking better. Whether you ship UPS, FedEx or USPS, every box you ship is handled countless times and each time it ends up a little dirtier and beat up. This rough handling is much less obvious on brown board than it is on white board.

eco-friendly shipping box, custom printed boxHowever, the box interior usually arrives in perfect condition!

This is why we have become a leading designer of e-commerce boxes with interior prints. People can’t wait to open a box that just arrived, and we make sure they are greeted with a great looking box that creates the enhanced experience which is the goal of most shippers. That interior inside lid of a die cut mailer is a great printing surface for anything from a brief thank you to product use or assembly instructions, and can be inexpensively printed where they are not going to be missed or lost.

We believe this is such a great marketing tool that we have made it easy for companies to add or change an interior print, long after the box is first launched or printed. (see first related post below) It is never too late to make a great and memorable impression.

custom printed boxes, flood coatWhite exteriors for flood coat designs

If a graphic design is going to require edge to edge (flood coat) printing, we will usually recommend that printing is done on a white surface rather than brown. Natural (brown) Kraft varies in color so anything printed over it may also reflect that same shade variance. So the easy way to achieve beautiful solid color is to print it over white board.

That also makes reverse printing much easier, creating white copy that really pops. If you check out some of the boxes in our gallery, they look like they are printed white ink over a solid color but the reality is that they are a solid color ink printed over white board. The end result creates a much sharper two color look using only one color ink and one print plate.

If all this sounds complicated, it is, but not for people who do this day in and day out. We know how to create the best looking package at the lowest possible cost and will help you accomplish whatever your goals might be whether they are about color, cost, sustainability or even weight reduction for minimizing shipping costs.

Contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700 to discuss your specific needs.

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31 Oct 2016 Genial Day Selects Salazar Packaging and Corrugated Board for New Eivi Packaging

custom-print-on-triple-white-board, packaging, custom printingThose of us who have been in packaging for a few decades know that the rules were pretty firm: you use paperboard for custom printed retail packaging and corrugated board for shipping applications. Period.

However, that strict line has become fuzzy over time, thanks to improved ink and substrates in corrugated packaging, but more importantly, a demand by the market for dual purpose packaging. That is packaging that has great graphics for retail display AND can also serve as a shipper for e-commerce applications.

Genial Day – Great New Product for Women

They were looking for dual purpose packaging and after considering a paperboard folding carton, saw some of the great looking corrugated boxes we have created on our website gallery.

After reviewing their application and graphics requirements, we were pleased to tell them we could direct print using a lower cost flexographic print process and help them avoid a much more costly litho label process. (See first “options” related blog post below).

triple-white-boardKeep in mind not all graphics are able to be printed using a flexographic print process but because we are used to printing high quality, challenging designs, it was a good fit for us. For a little cleaner look we also suggested triple white board that eliminated the brown fluting visible on the cut box edges. The end result is a great looking, custom printed box at the lowest possible cost.

Check out the Genial Day web site and Kickstarter video.

Paperboard is an Available Option

Please understand, we are not anti-paperboard. We makes boxes, cartons and trays in paperboard as well as corrugated. The key however, is to use the correct substrate for each application.  Since we offer both board options, we never have to force an application into a material that is not right for the customer or the product being packaged.

What is the right product and process for you? A free and brief consultation with one of our branded packaging advisors is sure to get you on the right path. Do not hesitate to contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700. We look forward to helping you with your project.

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12 Dec 2014 Pet Gift Box New Subscription Program Utilizes Salazar Packaging and Globe Guard® Custom Printed Boxes

Pet Gift Box exteriorOur office is filled with dog lovers so we were all very excited to work with Pet Gift Box on their new box design. Check out their neat web site

The program owner had some great ideas and we were eager to help bring them to fruition. You can see from the photos on his site as well as by the ones included in this post, he ships an ecofriendly Globe Guard® custom printed box and includes a personalized label with the pet’s name on it. It is those little touches as well as the quality products he encloses that make this box a great deal and a perfect gift for that pet lover on your holiday shopping list.

First Step – determine the correct and best size

I admit this is a challenge, especially for a new box and product that changes monthly. However, they selected one of our very popular stock box sizes 12-1/4” X 9-1/4” X 4” high. Using a “semi-custom” size enabled them to save money by not having to buy their own $800 or so cutting die, and it also saved time.

List of contents and personalized labelSecond Step – create art and print specs

Once the box size was decided on, as well as the board grade and color, we provided a die line for use in their art layout. When they asked for help with the graphic design, we were able to recommend a talented, experienced graphic designer from our short list of people we recommend. Remember, today most graphic designers are well versed in web design, but not all have any packaging experience.

Pet Gift Box chose a natural Kraft (brown) box and a standard blue for great contrast and a sharp look.

Goodies enclosedThird Step – Create a print card/proof

Customer review and approval is an absolute requirement to make sure they are thrilled with the end result and there are no unpleasant surprises. Within a few days of signature we had their print plates made and their first order of custom boxes shipped about one week later.

This may sound easy, and honestly, it really is when you have the right partner to guide you through the process. Please contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700 for a no cost, no obligation review of your new box design, or perhaps your redesign of an existing subscription box. If your volume has grown to 300 to 400 subscribers per month, this a great time to eliminate costly labels with beautifully printed boxes for your subscription program.

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01 Oct 2014 How to Reduce Shipping Weight and Cost

Corrugated Board FlutesAs a result of dramatically increased shipping rates and costs, many shippers today are looking for ways to reduce the overall package weight in an effort to reduce the shipping cost. Being over or under a particular weight (for example, one pound) can make a shipping cost difference of over two dollars per package. That is huge if you are shipping thousands of boxes per month.

After working with dozens of companies to accomplish lower shipping rates, we offer these possible solutions:

Using the best shipping container for your product

Here I often use clothing as an example because I don’t understand why anyone would want to use a box if they don’t have to. The fact is that most clothing and soft goods can ship in paper or plastic mailer envelopes, eliminating the box as well as the void fill or other ancillary packaging that may be required. Keep in mind, void fill not only adds purchase, inbound shipping and storage cost, but also adds weight.

E-flute board for clean, retail look, NOT weight reductionRight sizing can lead to big packaging cost and weight reductions

This may be the most obvious advice I provide but you would be surprised at how many shippers are using boxes that are too large because that size is a “stock” size for their supplier, or because they occasionally get a larger order that requires the larger shipping box. For example, our 7x7x2 die cut corrugated mailer box weighs 3.1 ounces. Our smaller 5x5x2 mailer weighs 2.1 ounces. Using a smaller, size appropriate corrugated box also results in inbound shipping cost and storage savings.

Weight reduction by using thinner board

If you would like to use a smaller flute board to make your boxes to make them look more retail and less industrial, that is a great idea, but in most cases it does NOT reduce the weight of the box.

We have been involved in many cost analysis and in almost all cases, there is no significant weight reduction. In some cases there could actually be an increase in weight when you go from C flute to B flute or even from B flute to E or F flute corrugated board. As the photo shows, even though the overall board thickness is reduced because flutes are smaller and thinner, there are more of them, resulting in approximately the same weight.

However, we have been able to deliver significant weight savings by modifying the construction of the board and using either thinner paper inside or outside or even a lighter medium. This can get rather complicated but suffice to say that we know how to accomplish the objective without compromising the container’s integrity or the graphics that are printed on it. Keep in mind that for some “non-standard” paper and board combinations, minimums may apply, but if you are shipping more than a few thousand boxes per month, you likely qualify for the lighter board combinations.

Weight reduction by container design

We have done much work in this area reducing the overall board usage (square inches minus scrap) significantly by using an Eco Mailer Box design or Indestructo design but neither of those are guaranteed to reduce the weight of the finished box. Front lock versus top tuck, dust flaps versus no dust flaps, can all impact shipping weight if it is done properly. (See related posts at the end of this post)

Remember that the container being used still has to keep the product safe as it ships from point A to point B and that probably none of these options are a stand-alone solution. No two shipping and packing applications are identical so we will review the overall application to determine the best way to reduce the desired weight. In many cases, substantial weight reductions are best made possible by using a combination of box manufacturing techniques.

Contact Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700 for a no cost, no obligation review of your needs.

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16 Sep 2014 New SPI Web Site Gallery Page for E-commerce and Subscription Box Packaging Applications

gallery-bannerWe are always very proud of the customers we work with and the packaging products and custom printed boxes we help them design. We freely share photos of our branded packaging work on our blog, our web site, and also on the very popular web site.

It was time we collect the many photos of our work and presented them in one easy to find, easy to navigate web page and we did at There you will see a large sampling of the variety of work we have done, including:

Colorful Subscription Boxes

We have printed well over forty different subscription boxes for products ranging from snacks to shaving gear. While some prefer a minimalist approach to graphic design, others create boxes that explode with color and are not shy about complex graphics.

Semi-Custom printed shipping containers

In our gallery we show some of the most popular sizes we have cutting dies for enabling new customers to use our available dies to save time and money. I am sure you will notice how many different looks you can create with the same box style and size, making it ideal for your customers and market.

Inside Printing

Many companies will not bother promoting or featuring inside box capabilities but we encourage it. Sure it adds cost but not as much as you might think and it is sure to impress your customers.

Mailer Envelopes

One of our most popular products thanks to a low one case minimum for custom printing. They are available Kraft or white, flat or gusseted, making them a great low cost shipping option for tee shirts and other clothing.

Internal Packaging

We are able to save customers time and money by combining stock size or custom boxes and customized inserts that can be made to fit their specific product or application. The types of materials used include molded pulp, molded foam, die cut corrugated, as well as partitions and dividers. A properly designed insert can reduce packing time, eliminate layers of packaging or loose void fill and reduce shipping damage and replacement costs.

What you see on our new gallery page is just a small sampling of our work. If you have an idea or concept you want to discuss, please contact us at Salazar Packaging. We are certain to be able to guide you to a branded box you will be proud of at the lowest possible cost.

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10 Sep 2014 Creating “shippable” primary packaging for Amazon and other fulfillment and contract packaging operations

great looking shippable boxesAmazon is one of many excellent companies that will do everything from storing to picking and packing your customers’ orders for you. They are so much better equipped to handle fluctuations in orders and in general, handling the operational side of the business. Most people (including us) are in business because of our sales and marketing skills, not because we understand inventory management or logistics. We have become firm believers in letting the experts do what they do best.

Shipping your packaging within their box?

Whether you are an e-commerce company or have created a successful subscription box program, the product you are shipping and how it is packaged will determine if Amazon and others will:

  1. Ship your box or container within one of their boxes (secondary packaging)
  2. Ship your product directly to your customer in the container you provide (primary packaging)

Depending on what your fulfillment operation charges you for packaging, this could be a good or not so good deal for you. However, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you will understand why option #1 above deprives you of a great branding and presentation opportunity. Do you want the first thing your customer sees to be your logo or that famous, all too familiar “smile”?

Additional benefits to you when using “shippable packaging”

Aside from promoting your brand, you also control the customer experience. You determine what type of impression you want to make on YOUR customer.

Green minded customers are usually quick to point out layers of unnecessary and redundant packaging. Shipping a box within a box also adds costs for everyone involved in the process.

In the era of “dimensional weight” shipping, using as small container as possible reduces outbound shipping cost. Keep in mind that you are also paying for inbound shipping costs as well as storage costs for any packaging you buy or use.

Custom printed and branded “shippable” packaging is what we do

If your current packaging requires some attention, we are more than qualified to help you make that change:

  • Quickly – usually 2 to 3 weeks
  • Economically – many of our customers are surprised at how affordable custom printed packaging can be.
  • Effectively – damaged product can be avoided or eliminated
  • Environmentally Friendly – most of our containers are 100% recycled content and 100% recyclable

Please contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700 for a no cost, no obligation review of your specific packaging needs.

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29 Aug 2014 Custom Printing Corrugated Boxes – Ink color FAQ

GCMI chart scanMost of our best blog posts are a result of great questions asked by active and potential customers. Our thought has always been, if one person out there is wondering about this, there are likely others with the same question or concern. This is one of those posts about the questions people ask when they see this included in their quote: “printed with standard or GCMI colors”.

What exactly are GCMI colors?

Ironically they are a selection of sixty colors that are offered by the Glass Container Manufacturers Institute. The corrugated industry adopted them long ago and they are the standard colors that are used when printing short runs of boxes. In most cases under 5,000 boxes.

Why is that necessary or important?

I usually compare this to the selection of paint colors you might see at a big box home improvement retail store. There are typically a few dozen pre-mixed colors available that are less expensive and readily available. This compared to the hundred or even thousands of paint colors that can be mixed to order.

By using a premixed standard color, the ink cost is reduced making the box more affordable. Perhaps more important—premixed colors are also more consistent and easier to duplicate for different products and different runs.

Two colors with screens on whiteWhy can I not use or spec Pantone colors?

When you check out the available colors at this link, you will see all GCMI colors show a PMS or Pantone equivalent. So in essence, they are Pantone/PMS colors, but the menu or palette of colors is limited.

Doesn’t this limit my creative options?

When you check out the available colors, it is true you only see one red but you also see eight different shades of green and 16 different variations of blue. There are several options to select from that satisfy the vast majority of our customer’s needs.

How can I maximize the impact of my color choices?

The answer to this varies a great deal depending on your graphic design. Sometimes a background color, especially white, can create a lot of POP making the colors you select appear sharper. On a different design, we might suggest the use of screens to create different densities of the same ink color to create contrast.

What if I need help with my graphic design?

We can help guide you and are glad to make suggestions at no charge.  However, if you need to create a design from scratch, or around your logo, we can recommend one of several good graphic designers we have worked with in the past.

As we remind people, not every good web graphic designer is a good packaging graphic designer. Working with someone that is familiar with the flexographic print process for corrugated can save you money and create a more attractive finished product.

Here is the most important “take with” from this post—custom printing boxes is NOT complicated if you are working with an experienced partner who offers the right resources and knows how to deliver a great product at an affordable cost.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at Salazar Packaging with your questions. We are glad to help you and who knows, they may lead to another helpful blog post like this one.

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17 Jun 2014 Custom Inserts for Stock and Custom Mailer Boxes

4 cavity foam insertWe spend a lot of time helping our clients and customers create some of the most attractive custom printed shipping boxes used for e-commerce, branding purposes and subscription commerce applications. However in many cases, what goes on inside the box is every bit as important, because after all, if the product being shipped arrives dented or damaged, it barely matters what the box looks like.

Different objectives of internal packaging

Unlike paper wrap or loose fill options which can be very attractive and provide some level of cushioning or surface protection, custom inserts are specifically designed and engineered to immobilize the product being shipped. The goal may be to prevent product to product damage which is quite common, or to absorb the shock resulting from a drop.

Here are a few of the most common protective, custom internal packaging options we have to offer:

shown with lower half of molded pulp clamshellMolded Pulp Trays and Clamshells

With our low 1,000 minimum and tooling costing hundreds rather than thousands of dollars, our process makes this option very affordable, even for low volume or short term applications. We can create an open top custom tray for the product or various components to sit in, with or without a top tray covering, creating a “clamshell’ to protect the product from over as well as under.

Every application is a little different but we are able to create low cost molds for just about any application. Molded pulp is considered one of the greenest packaging materials available because it is simply paper waste put to good use.

Die Cut or Molded Foam

There are many different types and densities of foam ranging from very soft polyurethane to extremely stiff forms, or in between such as our biodegradable semi-rigid foam. Some can be machined, or molded, and others simply fabricated depending on the application and volume.

What material or process is best depends on what level and type of protection the product being shipped requires. Other factors include order quantity, tooling costs and in some cases appearance.

die cut insert for glass bottlesDie Cut Corrugated Inserts

When a corrugated or paperboard insert is placed inside a shipping box we create a package that may contain a high percentage of recycled (even post-consumer) waste and is easily recyclable anywhere, making it a very green packaging option. What we enjoy most since it is a custom die cut option, is the way we can build in versatility enabling the shipper to use the same insert for multiple products and configurations.

Inserts can be very plain in natural Kraft or white or used to create a terrific presentation, enhancing the customer’s experience. The minimum can range from 1,000 inserts to several thousand depending on size and graphics but there is no limit to what we can help you create to hold your product(s) in place during shipment and display them for your customers.

This is just a snapshot look at several more common options but we have many more solutions to choose from. As always we are led by the application and we would love to discuss yours with you. Please contact Salazar Packaging for a review of your needs or call us at 630-551-1700.

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07 Feb 2014 What’s Your Price for Custom Printed Boxes?

QuestionIt is a common web inquiry or the opening question by someone calling our office. I often joke that is much like walking in a shoe store and asking for their price for a pair of shoes or entering a car dealer and asking how much a car will cost. Life would be far simpler if it was that easy and that quick.

The fact is that in order to give you an accurate price with no surprises at the end, we do have to ask a number of seemingly detailed questions. The process is also designed to give the inquirer a better idea of the options available to them. An appreciative “oh, you can do that” or “I want that” makes it all worthwhile. A perfect example is inside printing. Most people do not realize that printing on the inside of a box is even possible and surprisingly affordable.

The factors that determine the price of a custom printed box:

Box style – do you need an RSC (regular slotted container) or FOL (full overlap) design? Or do you want more of a presentation box like a die cut mailer with a hinged lid that opens up like a cigar box? If a die cut mailer is what you need, there are several styles available for you. (see last “related post” link below)

Board grade – though most of our RSC boxes are 32ECT and most of our mailers are made of 32B board, the variety of boards we offer is much larger. Micro flutes (E and F) are much more popular now as customers work to create boxes that are as decorative as they are functional.

Board Color – board is available in brown (natural Kraft) and white and we can create any inside combination you may want. Kraft out and white in? No problem. White inside and out? Again, we can deliver.

Printing – this is the part we love because it enables customers to create their very own look. In many cases art has not been fully developed and that is OK. All we really need to know initially is how many colors, and inside and/or outside?

Quantity – More than any other single factor, the size of the order most influences the price of the boxes. Our minimum on most boxes is 1,000, but customers are usually surprised when they see how much less expensive a run of 2,000 boxes can be.

Is  Buying Custom Printed Boxes Overly Complicated?

Not at all but it is detailed if you want to do it right. Perhaps that is why so many box suppliers recommend against it. They simply don’t want to mess with it because it is time consuming and honestly, they don’t trust themselves or their companies to do it correctly.

Custom printing is so very gratifying for us and our customers. We occasionally receive a note from a customer about their plain/unprinted boxes but we routinely get emails and phone calls from customers who LOVE their new custom printed boxes. It is great to know how excited and pleased they are and the amount of time and detail it took to get there, is quickly forgotten. Two things to remember:

Custom printed boxes are much more affordable than you probably think.

Custom printed boxes are more impressive than you can imagine.      

The key is to have the right partner and we believe we are. Please do not hesitate to contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700 if you have any questions or would like to discuss your project.

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