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Types of Cardboard Printing Methods

Whether you’re a massive business or a tiny self-starter, shipping is an integral component of your success. Taking time to package and send your products carefully shows your customers you care about their buying experience. In turn, you create consistent buyers who appreciate your concern.

One way to enhance your shipping is by using the right printing methods. Modern technology allows for many new printing practices, so it’s simple for businesses to select the best one for their needs. You can add your business logo or other identifying information to improve the entire shipping experience. With the correct printing habits, you can boost brand awareness and increase customer satisfaction at the same time.

Here is a basic overview of cardboard printing styles.

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Why Add Printing to Your Boxes?

Including printing on your shipping boxes can help you connect with customers and increase sales quality. Whether you add a customized logo or create personalized packaging, the unique design will give your customers a more memorable buying experience. In turn, you increase buyer loyalty and ultimately improve your sales.

There are also other uses for cardboard printing. Here are more advantages to adding prints to your boxes and shipping materials:

  • You can create deeper customer connections: Individualized packaging creates a personalized event for buyers. Printing can display your brand more broadly, so customers already have your brand name in mind right when they receive the package. This brand awareness, coupled with a high-quality product, demonstrates how much you value your consumers. And showing your customers you care is one of the best ways to make long-term connections with them. In turn, they might choose you over a competitor in the future.
  • You can include information on the box: Printing isn’t limited to just logos and brand names. You can add additional details about the product or warn mail delivery professionals to handle it carefully if needed. Inside, you could include important lists of materials to let customers know what they should receive.
  • You can increase brand awareness: Depending on the scope of your business, your boxes might travel across vast distances. Having a logo or design on the outside allows mobile advertising as the package makes its way to your customers. If you ship to businesses, they may display your boxes directly on store shelves. The packaging will expose many passing customers to your brand logo and increase awareness.

Overall, adding that personalized touch to your shipping materials enhances customer experience and brand awareness. In turn, an increase in sales is likely.

Types of Printing for Cardboard Packaging

Luckily, many styles of cardboard printing are available. Cardboard is one of the most popular shipping options due to its durability and cost-effectiveness. It also makes an excellent canvas for printing.

There are two ways to add graphics to cardboard:

  • Single-sided printing: Single-sided prints feature a graphic on only one side of the box. So, the design is featured on either the outside or inside of the box.
  • Double-sided printing: With double-sided printing, both the inside and outside of the box have print designs. You can match the prints so it’s the same design throughout the packaging or add an alternative image to the inside of the box. Either way, both areas have designs.

Keep in mind that there’s no one best cardboard packaging option. Instead, all styles have different advantages and disadvantages depending on your company’s needs.

As you learn the different ways to print on cardboard, try to pick the one that suits your business goals best. If displaying your logo is most important to you, you might choose a style that allows you to print your design with high-quality colors. Or, if staying eco-friendly is the highest on your list, you could select the most environmentally friendly option. Either way, start with a goal in mind and let that guide your selection process.

Here are some of the different styles of cardboard printing that you can choose from.

Flexographic Printing

Flexographic printing is one of the most popular packaging printing styles. Flexography uses printing plates to transfer your designs onto cardboard or other surfaces easily. Once a logo or design is created, you can simply move the design onto your packaging materials. This style uses quick-drying ink so your order is completed rapidly. Flexography creates detailed and colorful graphics for a cost-effective price.

Because of its wide range of capabilities, you can use flexographic printing for various business materials. Businesses typically use flexographic prints for:

  • Food packaging: Food packages are a great example of a mass-produced material. Flexography allows for prints to be created at extremely high speeds. Products like candy bars or cereal boxes are examples of these packages.
  • Labels: Many companies also use flexography for various types of labels. Whether it’s a shipping label or one used in a store, flexographic printing helps you print mass quantities at once.
  • Continuous patterns: Products such as wallpaper or gift wrap often require the repetition of a single pattern. Flexography is great for quickly printing out a pattern repeatedly, all with high-quality results.

Altogether, flexographic prints offer many benefits for printing. Here are the main advantages of flexography:

  • Cost-effective
  • Rapid
  • Versatile

However, flexography also has some disadvantages:

  • Can’t support advanced designs: Flexographic prints are best suited for simple designs and logos. Flexography might limit your design capabilities if you have a highly detailed or complex illustration. You might want to try other options if this is your case.
  • Colors might not appear as bold: While flexography creates true-to-design prints, they might not appear as vivid as some of the other printing styles. Colors might not be as bright or bold as you desire.

Lithographic Printing

Lithographic printing, also known as offset printing, uses aluminum plating and a mixture of oil and water to create prints. With lithographic prints, images are transferred to blanket rollers, which then ink the design onto the cardboard. So, unlike flexographic prints, your design is “offset” instead of applied directly to the cardboard. Lithography can also create a large number of prints at once.

Lithographic prints often require a more extensive setup than other printing styles. The equipment allows for a highly detailed and vivid image once complete. If you want to use a photograph or realistic image, lithographic prints allow for an exact recreation. However, the additional equipment makes it less cost-effective than other options.

Businesses usually use lithograph prints for:

  • Photo-realistic designs: Any prints with photo-realistic designs work well with lithographic printing. For instance, products like brochures that require high-quality photos of destinations would suit lithography very well.
  • Books: Many companies use lithographic printing to print mass quantities of books. Lithography’s detailed nature allows many books to be printed at once, all with high-quality results.
  • Magazines and newspapers: Lithography works great with magazines and newspapers. You can mass-produce high quantities of each while maintaining excellent picture quality.

There are a lot of benefits of lithographic prints, including:

  • Detailed designs
  • You can create large quantities at once
  • You can use them on many surfaces, including wood or stone

However, lithographic prints also have some disadvantages:

  • More expensive than other options: Lithography is more expensive overall due to the specific equipment and longer setup. It’s best for large quantities. If you have fewer products to print, you might be better off with a more cost-effective option.
  • Takes longer: If you need a quick print job, lithography might not be your best bet. It’s not the slowest option, but other printing methods are faster.

Digital Printing

Digital printing is a more modern option for your printing needs. The process is relatively simple — instead of using printing plates or other similar technology, this style reproduces digital prints using a printer. Simply send your designs in a PDF or similar file type to a printer, and the image is copied onto your cardboard.

Businesses often use digital prints for:

  • Posters and signs: Companies often use digital prints for local advertising. Because these don’t require large amounts of prints, this style works well.
  • Newsletters or menus: These items also work well with digital prints. You can upload your designs easily and quickly because these don’t typically require many copies.

Altogether, this style of printing is a cost-effective and high-quality option. Digital printing offers many advantages for users like:

  • Cost-efficiency: There are no setup costs or printing plates required for digital printing, so it creates prints at an overall lower price. You can print off many designs at once for a low cost.
  • Great for small jobs: Digital printing requires no minimum quantity or other costs, so it’s great for small amounts of prints.

Digital prints also have their drawbacks, however, such as:

  • Lower ink quality: Digital prints often have lower quality ink than other methods. Because of this, your images might fade more quickly or not appear as vivid as other options.
  • Doesn’t work with some materials: While digital prints work well with cardboard, they don’t have the comprehensive capabilities of other printing options.


Rotogravure, also known as gravure, is another popular printing method for cardboard. It uses a rotary printing press by engraving an image onto a copper cylinder. The prints are highly detailed, reproducing even the tiniest details onto your surface.

People often use rotogravure for things like:

  • Magazines and newspapers
  • Cellophane materials
  • Greeting cards
  • Product packaging

This method provides many benefits, such as:

  • Vivid designs: Rotogravure produces meticulous details and high-quality prints for any brand.
  • Durable: Due to their careful design, rotogravure prints are highly durable and last for years.
  • Quick to produce: Rotogravure is also rapid, making high-quality images at fast speeds.

However, rotogravure also has a few disadvantages:

  • More expensive: Similar to lithography, rotogravure requires a lengthy setup process and other materials. These will raise the costs of your print job and cause rotogravure to be more expensive overall.
  • Minimum order quantities: Sometimes, due to the high production costs, printers will require a minimum number of prints for orders. So if you only want a few products printed, rotogravure might not be your best fit.

Types of Ink

Despite all its advantages, cardboard sometimes makes a poor surface for printing. Because of its brown color and porous nature, it’s sometimes tricky to apply the exact design you want. Companies typically use specific ink types that adapt well to cardboard’s characteristics.

Here are some types of ink that are commonly used for cardboard prints:

  • Solvent-based inks: This type of ink consists of pigment and resin, binding them together to create a durable shade. Companies often use solvent-based inks for glossy cardboard materials because they last longer on the surface. Gravure and flexographic prints usually use solvent-based inks as well.
  • Water-based inks: This ink type is also made of pigment and resin but with an additional water mixture. The added water makes this type of ink more environmentally friendly because it dilutes the pigment. Water-based inks work well with all cardboard types, especially items like milk cartons.
  • Oil-based inks: Oil-based inks are typically used for barcodes and other important information on packages. It also works well with corrugated cardboard.
  • UV inks: UV ink is named because it dries under UV rays. This ink often provides more vivid colors and has a high level of adhesion. People typically use it for bright packaging and advertising materials.

Inks are also available in two main color schemes:

  • Cyan, magenta, yellow and key (CMYK): This is the basic set of colors used in a printing process. They show up brightly against the cardboard, though probably not as vividly as your original design.
  • Black and white: Most companies also offer black or white for your designs. Black is a traditional favorite and shows up well on cardboard materials. White is also an excellent choice for your packaging, whether as a stand-alone shade or placed behind other colors.

How Flutes Affect Cardboard Printing

Cardboard flutes are reinforcing materials inside cardboard that give the material its shape. They’re integral to cardboard and also impact printing effectiveness. Depending on the number of flutes inside your cardboard, your prints might adhere to the cardboard better or worse.

Here are the most commonly used flute types in cardboard boxes:

  • E flute: This is the flattest option for cardboard. It consists of a higher quantity of smaller flutes, allowing for a flatter design. The flatness also makes the E flute optimal for printing compared to other options. However, because it rests at such a low level, the E flute also makes these materials less durable.
  • B fluteB flutes have the next best printability. These flutes are slightly thicker, providing more durability than E flutes. However, they’re still flat enough to allow for good printing. This option offers a good mix of strength and printing quality.
  • C fluteThis is the thickest of these three flute options. The flutes are bigger and wider, so the material itself is thicker. This type is best suited for shipping fragile items. However, printing highly-detailed designs might be more difficult for C flutes because the thickness prevents the best possible prints.

Choose BuyBoxes for Help With All Your Printing Needs

If you need cardboard printing solutions, look no further than BuyBoxes. At BuyBoxes, we understand the importance of quality cardboard prints. We work closely with our clients to help them find the best box solutions for their business. Our dedicated team representatives can guide you through the process and are ready to answer any questions. Additionally, our superior quality products ensure you will find the printing method that boosts your brand.

Contact BuyBoxes today to get started. We look forward to helping you with all your cardboard printing needs.