Corrugated Packaging Reference Materials:       Printing

Adding images and text to make an impact

Once the structure and design of the package is set, images and text are added. With various factors in mind—budget, schedule, quality—the appropriate printing method is selected. Printing could be on the combined board itself, on the linerboard (before being glued to the corrugated medium), or on a separate sheet of paper that is then glued to the combined board. A number of different printing methods can be used.

Pre-printing on the linerboard—Before the linerboard is combined with the corrugated medium, printing take place on kraft, white top, solid bleached, or coated surface.
• Letterpress—The oldest printing method, all image areas are raised above the plate; rollers apply ink to the raised areas, then to the combined board.
• Screen printing—Ink is forced through a design on a taut screen and onto the combined board.
Offset lithography—The plate is chemically treated in the image areas to be ink receptive and water repellent; the plate contacts rollers with water and then rollers with ink, which transfers to a rubber cylinder and onto the board.
Offset flexography—Flexible rubber or polymer plates transfer images onto the board; this is especially effective on rough materials, such as fiberboard.
Digital—Digital files are fed directly into the printing equipment, eliminating films and plates.

Screen and Line Parameters (web and sheet)

Lines per inch (LPI)
Offset Lithography (sheet) 150-200
Offset Lithography (direct) 150
Flexography (web) 100-110
Flexography (direct) 40-75
Screen Printing 85-150
Rotogravure (web) 150-200+
Letterpress Coarse (65 or less)
direct = direct to corrugated
sheet or web = sheet or web process for reprinting the liner, label, or top sheet

Learn about corrugated box structure and corrugated box styles.

Information and illustrations used with permission from the Fibre Box Association. Fibre Box Handbook is copyright ©2005 Fibre Box Association. All rights reserved.