Posted on July 29, 2015 by Michael Boik

“Flexo Friendly” Art Design for Subscription and E-commerce Boxes

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We have the pleasure of working with a wide variety of graphic artists with amazing talent. However, many of them are used to working on the internet creating digital graphics for web sites and web pages. Even the ones who have worked in packaging typically create designs that are offset or digitally printed on fine paper, labels, or paperboard such as cartons or display cards.

Printing directly on corrugated board, on a flexographic press is different because it uses polymer print plates that pick up the water based ink and deposit it on the board, much like a rubber stamp and ink pad work together.

What Makes Flexographic Printing Different?

The “plate to board” process may make it difficult to print SOME fine details and characters to be printed cleanly. Or in some cases, small holes or gaps may fill in with ink. In addition if the graphic design includes places where two or more colors “meet” or touch, it is necessary to overlap the colors, creating an ink trap and a third color that is not necessarily attractive or desirable.

From a cost standpoint, keep in mind each color requires its own plate at a typical cost of $400 to $600 each and that can add up quickly.

When it Comes to Fonts – Size matters

The smaller and finer the font, the more likely it is to require adjustment. For example, using a Helvertica font, the minimum size is 8 pt. However if it is reverse printed, the minimum becomes 10 pt. Some thin, swirly fonts can be very problematic unless they are bolded and/or enlarged. As a rule, lines need to be 3 pt or larger and an ® or ™ have to be 12 point or larger or they are likely to turn into ink blobs.

Printing with Water Based GCMI Inks

The other thing that becomes a factor is the desired finish. You can check out the related post below on “boxes that sparkle” to see how high gloss or other finishes can be accomplished, but as a rule, water based inks are going to result in a flat, no luster finish.

The related “GCMI” post below also discusses the available standard colors for flexographic printing on corrugated board. Once again, keep in mind we are printing with water based inks directly onto corrugated board, so there may be some limitations on what we are able to print cleanly.

If this all sounds restrictive or problematic it is not. Fortunately our partners and we have enough experience to help you through the process with only one goal in mind – to deliver the best possible look at the lowest possible cost. We have now manufactured over 300 different ecommerce and subscription boxes and that enables us to help you avoid any possible problems.

Please contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700 to discuss your project. With no cost or obligation, we will be glad to review your design or artwork to determine the printability and will make suggestions to help you achieve superior results.


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