Best Practices for Packaging Printing with Digital Methods

With the advancements in print technology, numerous methods have been developed for printing marketing materials. At DMS Color we use digital printing to create packaging, labels, and collateral for our customers. We won’t go into too much detail on how digital printing varies from the other types (we’ll save that for another time) but, here are a few of the primary reasons people choose package printing with digital methods.


• No minimum orders

• Color accuracy and consistency

• Quicker turnaround times

• Reduced waste with no overages


If you decide digital package printing is for you, here are our best practices.



1. Eliminate Cracked Corners and Edges

When printing solid colors on packaging, cracking can often occur around the edges and corners. These cracks happen because the ink does not “stretch” but is forced to break when folded. Applying a soft touch coating over the ink will prevent this from happening. Implementing this not only keeps the ink together on the folds but also adds a luxurious matte feel to your packaging.


If you plan on using raised foil and varnish around a fold, create a gutter and allow your embellished design to go up to it (and immediately after), but not directly on top.



2. Keep Your Glue Tabs Strong

When creating design files for your package printing, make sure each of the tabs is white.


Note: White tabs will not affect the look of a continuous print/design, but rather ensure the tabs will adhere to the glue—keeping the integrity of the box. 



3. Auto lock boxes are the exception

Look at the bottom of a box. Do you see what looks like an “X?” If so, that’s an auto lock box. These boxes are designed for extra strength. However, this type of package printing adds additional waste in the finishing process—often increasing costs up to 25%. For the vast majority of small packaging products, a traditional folding bottom will be your best option—keeping costs low, without sacrificing design or functionality.


4. Image Quality

High-quality print requires high-quality images. If you already have a design needing to be printed, your final file should be a print-ready PDF. Print-ready means crop marks and .125” of bleed all the way around.


If you don’t have a design, we can help – we have three in-house designers (read: DMS Color has fantastic designers that are able to help)! And, to set designers up for success, be sure to include an .ai or .eps file of your logo as well as any high-quality images you need to be incorporated.


5. Raised foil and Varnish Embellishments

Raised foil and varnish embellishments are designed to elevate your print—taking it from standard to premium with the help of a few strategically placed accents.


Keyword: Accents


When designing for raised foil and varnish, moderation is key. Plan on placing embellishments on key areas you want your customers to focus on. Too many embellishments can make a design look tacky or confuse the customer as to where they should look first.


Once you know where to place foil and varnish, use the checklist below to make sure each of these frequent problem areas has been addressed.


No text under 10 pts is scheduled to be foiled or varnishedIf using foil, lines are not super fine or around tight spaces (at least 2 pts)If using thin lines, use foil-over-foil to achieve greater detail, but be sure to notate that in your design or print request)If embellishments are printed on the corners or edges, a gutter must be put in place.




If this seems like a lot, don’t worry. Our brand specialists and designers are here to help you every step of the way. As your marketing ally, we use the latest in print technology and our staff’s years of expertise to provide you with premium packaging solutions.

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