26 Sep 2013 The Truth about Custom Printed Boxes
We specialize in custom printed RSC and die cut mailer boxes, so we receive many questions by phone and email. On average once a week we are asked some variation of the following: “Is custom printing less expensive if we go with a standard, stock size?”
This indicates a basic misconception on how custom printed boxes are printed. Although there are companies that will ink jet or post print boxes that are already made; that process has limitations and can be very costly.
Most companies, like us, utilize a much faster flexographic process which results in a much more affordable cost because the copy is pre-printed on the board BEFORE it is made into boxes. In other words, custom printed boxes are custom manufactured to order, so there are no stock, or standard sizes. BTW, this also means you can get the exact size you need, not just something that is “close and available”.
The Flexographic Print Process for Corrugated Boxes
A simplified version of the process is as follows:
1. A print plate is made and ink color(s) are selected
2. The image is printed onto flat corrugated board sheets
3. The board sheets are either die cut (most mailer boxes) or run through a slotter/gluer to create an RSC (regular slotted container) or FOL (full overlap) shipping box.
Minimums will apply and vary depending on several factors including box style, box size, print location (in or out) and number of colors.
Most people are pleasantly surprised when they find out how relatively inexpensive custom printed boxes can be. It helps when we help them realize their “plain” RSC boxes are really already printed. When you look at the outside bottom of most RSC boxes, you will likely see a manufacturer’s cert stamp, an eco-message, a recycled logo, or perhaps a manufacturer’s name printed there. Your RSC boxes may not be printed with your copy, but they are already printed by and for the box manufacturer. Since printing is already part of the manufacturing process, your copy can usually be added easily and inexpensively. Most stock die cut mailers are NOT printed but it can be added with a relatively small, onetime investment in a print plate.
Why Does Ink Coverage Has Minimal Impact on the Price?
Another very common question usually asked about die cut mailers is, “How much more is it if I print my logo on all four sides, and not just two?” Just like RSC boxes, die cut mailer boxes are printed before they actually are converted into boxes, so every panel is printed simultaneously and at the same “cost”.
The print plate cost might be impacted by a flood coat or extensive ink coverage but that is a onetime expense. If the box price is impacted at all with heavy ink coverage, the difference is pennies and our advice is usually “go for it”.
Why Do So Many Companies, NOT Sell Custom Printed Boxes?
Some prospective customers question why so few companies do what we do and why some very large “stock box” internet sellers do not offer custom printed boxes. The honest, direct answer is that selling custom printed boxes takes a lot more time and carries greater risk.
Time required – A new or first time custom printed project takes a lot more time due to the number of details involved. We work very hard to make it as painless as possible for the customer, but there is no question that the approvals for the necessary proof, plate and colors, consume time. In some cases, press approvals are done as we actually supervise the job being run on the press. We look at all this as an investment of time that is designed to result in 100% customer satisfaction and a long term relationship with our customers.
Potential Risk – Boxes that are printed badly or incorrectly will only have scrap value so the stakes can be quite high. However, if we resist the urge to cut corners and follow our “customer friendly” process to the letter, we eliminate the risk and end up with a happy client and customer.
A Slogan to Live Up To
One of my all-time favorite marketing slogans comes from Sym’s Clothing, known for “An educated consumer is our best customer.” We agree with that philosophy whole heartedly and feel a sincere responsibility to help educate a market that has been misinformed or even mislead into believing custom printing is expensive and difficult to accomplish.
On a daily basis, and as often as possible via our writing (blogs and articles) or in presentation, we prove that is simply not true. Our goal is always to help our customers make informed decisions about their packaging.
Please call us at 630-551-1700 or contact us through our Salazar Packaging web site for a free, no cost review of your potential project.