Guide to Creating Effective Custom Printed Packaging
Updated: May 17
We work with companies to print their packaging. This includes a wide range of packaging items; from mailing boxes to post out bike parts; to cardboard presentation folders where the customer wanted to move away from plastic folders; to food boxes for a restaurant chain; to food packaging sleeves for a national food producer; as well as high end retail gift boxes. So we know a thing or two about printed packaging!
We have put together 5 things you should consider before you create your packaging.
But first, here's a handy tip to help you save money on your packaging...
Save Tax By Printing Your Packaging on Cardboard
Did you know that the Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) was introduced by the UK government in April 2022, adding a levy of £200 tax per tonne of plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic?
Therefore, it is advisable to use packaging that includes at least 30% recycled plastic or find an alternative material that won’t fall within the PPT, such as cardboard or thick 'paper'. This will save you money, whilst helping the environment.
For more packaging tips read on...
Here are 5 things you should consider before you create your packaging:
1. Ensure your custom printed packaging is fit for purpose
No-one likes to receive an item in the post encased in a huge box, containing only a small item; or with the contents damaged from poor packaging design. So it’s essential to consider the functional requirements of your packaging print. Ask yourself:
Will the packaging be used for different sized items? Will you use one sized box, or require different ones?
Does the packaging need to protect the contents? Will this need to be considered in the design – do you need a ‘nesting’ structure, or will the material need to be a certain strength?
How will the item be sent? Does it need to fit within a certain size (letterbox) or weight?
Would it be beneficial for your packaging to include a coating to give surfaces protection against bacteria and harmful microbes for the life of your printed product, such as Biomaster?
Once printed, does your packaging need to be delivered flat so you can make up the boxes at the point of sale without the need for any tape or glue, or to help save storage space?
These factors are all essential items to consider ensuring your packaging is fit for purpose, so these are key questions you need to think about at the start of your packaging print project.
2. Consider the materials your packaging is printed on
Currently, there is a world shortage of fluted board and folding box bard (FBB), so if a carton can be constructed with a thick ‘paper’ weight, this may help with supplies going forward.
Did you know that different printers can print on different thickness of materials, based on the machinery they use? So, it’s worth checking with your printer if they can meet your needs before you start. For example, Blackmore can print on substrates up to 1000 micron thickness, with a flat sheet size of up to 720mm x 1020mm. Or, if your packaging needs to be 100% waterproof, Blackmore can print up to 500-800 micron thickness on waterproof material, too.
3. Make it eco-friendly
From the materials you choose, to the way your packaging is printed - these all make a difference to your packaging’s green credentials. Here are some of the key factors to consider:
Consider choosing recycled or recyclable materials, or paper board-based solutions, removing plastics from the packaging.
Use stocks from approved sources, such as FSC® or PEFC. FSC® and PEFC certified paper is paper that has been harvested in a responsible manner. Your printer can also supply the logos you can add to your packaging design to promote the eco credentials of your printed packaging to your customers.
Opt for carbon-balanced print if your printer partners with the World Land Trust to ensure the project is certified as carbon net zero. Blackmore offers this service.
Limit the ‘finishes’ that can be added to packaging, such as lamination or foils, which helps your packaging to be more recyclable, whilst reducing the carbon footprint from the finishes’ extra production processes.
Create the packaging design using the smallest print area to prevent material wastage when printed.
4. Make your packaging as cost-effective as possible
There are many factors that affect the cost of your packaging, from the materials used, to size and weight of the packaging. So it’s always best to speak to your printer, who can advise you on your specific packaging needs. Here are a few items to consider:
Decide on the quantity you need. If you need 10,000 units at a time, select a printer that specialises in larger quantities.
Don’t forget to check with the printer if the cutting formes cost is included in their quote (as this can be a large part of the cost).
If you require a smaller quantity to be printed (from 2-3000) but only need 1,000 printed at a time, some printers (including Blackmore) can print them ‘on demand’ as and when needed and invoiced only when they are called off, which can save you money, spread the cost and save on storage, too.
For smaller quantity printed packaging, check if your printer can cut out the packaging on a digital cutting machine, which avoids the large cost of cutting formes (Blackmore can offer this).
5. Make your designs more eye-catching
There are many features you can add at the design stage or at print stage. Here are a few of them to consider:
Spot UV can be applied to packaging print, which applies a clear, shiny coating to specific areas of artwork to create an eye-catching contrast.
Some printers (including Blackmore) can print ‘white’ onto coloured material or kraft coloured boards, and then print colour on top of this white area, which gives a real recycled/ eco feel and is very striking.
You can also consider special coatings to make your packaging stand out even more, including gloss, matt and drip off varnish to create a wow factor without the use of plastic laminates.
We hope you found our article useful. If you would like to receive more articles from us, or if you have a packaging print project to discuss, please click below.
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