Posted on December 1, 2020 by Michael Boik

Flexographic Printing for DTC Packaging

We’ve used the term “flexo-friendly” in a number of blog posts to describe ways of designing and rendering your artwork so that it both looks great and can be printable with print plates (instead of a digital, offset or litho label alternative printing method). Flexographic printing will almost always be your least expensive option from a per unit perspective, and many of our customers ask for ways in which they can tweak their art so that we can print it with flexographic equipment, to take advantage of the cost savings.


Flexographic Printing for DTCWhat is a Flexo-Friendly Print?

The reality is, many designs we see from graphic artists are already flexo-friendly, or can be with a few adjustments here or there that don’t drastically alter the design. Maybe it’s reducing the number of colors from 3 to 2, or from 2 to 1. Maybe it’s not reducing the colors at all, but rather spacing out the text/images/graphics so that there is no color overlap. Or maybe it’s eliminating one image or section of the art that creates a potential issue. In all of these cases, our focus is always to try to save you money while printing a gorgeous box for you.

When we first received the artwork for this box, it presented a few challenges, mainly colors that overlapped, creating additional colors or shades that couldn’t be accomplished with flexographic printing. Registration is always a concern, and typically printing will allow for a 1/8” tolerance, so any design can move in any direction when the plates hit the board, within that tolerance. (For an explanation on the Flexographic Printing process, click here.) But we loved the concept and wanted to print something as close as possible without compromising the focus of the design. The customer ended up spacing out the flowers, eliminating overlap and presenting a beautiful 2 color design that had everyone in our office turning heads to see the artwork. Keep in mind that we print boxes every day, so for a design to generate that much attention and interest is pretty amazing.


What Will My 2 or 3 Color Box Cost?

The cost difference between a 1 color print and 2 color print typically is pennies, in terms of per unit. The process is pretty much the same, so the price is virtually unaffected. There are situations, however, where adding additional colors will add to the cost, because most machines can print up to 2 or 3 colors in a single pass, meaning in some cases a 3rd color will add another pass, which will add cost. The same can be said when adding a varnish (which is applied the same way as ink). Also ink colors do vary in terms of cost, as some inks are more expensive than others, for any variety of reasons.

Print plates are typically between about $400-800 per color used inside and outside. But this is an average, meaning if you have a large amount of coverage in blue and a small amount in red, your blue print plate may be $900, and your red may only be $300. The key is always to consider that the more ink coverage across the box, the higher the print plate cost. The good news is, print plates are a one time expense, provided you do not change the design or mailer size on future runs.

The best way to get an estimate on your specific packaging needs is to read this blog post and provide us the details you have that are outlined there.


Please Contact Us Today

We’re happy to help you find a custom packaging solution that works for you. As always, if you have any questions, one of our branded packaging advisors is standing by to assist, with decades of experience behind them. Want to know more about custom packaging options? Please call us at 630-551-1700 or contact us via email at


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