Flexo vs. Digital Printing

Printing corrugated mailing boxes, business cards and custom labels can be completed through many different methods, but flexo and digital are among the most popular. With flexography and digital printing capabilities continually improving and expanding, it can be challenging to decide which of these two methods of printing is best for you and your specific project. Because both have their own benefits and drawbacks, however, there are times to choose one over the other.

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What Is Flexography?

Flexography or flexographic printing is a high-quality, low-cost printing solution that uses flexible rubber plates mounted on a cylinder. To make an impression on various types of substrates, a wide range of inks are rolled onto the printing plates. Flexography is an excellent choice for large-scale printing and variable repeat lengths. One of the best things about flexo printing is the flexibility it offers — for both materials and techniques.

Why Choose Flexographic Printing?

Choosing flexo printing comes with several advantages, including:

  • High speed for bulk orders
  • A wide range of finishing options
  • A variety of substrates available for printing
  • Creative lamination, inks, varnish and foils

Drawbacks of Flexo Printing

If you’re short on time, flexographic printing may not be your best option. Flexography can include downtime between jobs and while changing out plates. At times, shadows and gradations can also have drop-off issues.

What Is Digital Printing?

Digital printing involves printing an electronic image directly onto a substrate using an inkjet or laser solution. The on-demand printing solution takes less time than other methods because it does not use printing plates.

Why Choose Digital Printing?

Benefits of digital printing include:

  • The ability to make changes quickly
  • Less setup time
  • A variable data ability
  • Short to medium runs
  • The ability to hit 97% of Pantone colors
  • The production of vivid, bright colors, smooth gradations and shadows without drop-off

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Drawbacks of Digital Printing

Every method of printing has its drawbacks — and that doesn’t exclude digital printing. Digital printing is not an ideal choice for bulk orders, and it offers limited options when it comes to substrates and finishes.

Real-Life Examples of Flexo and Digital Designs

Many companies, both large and small, are taking advantage of custom packaging using both digital and flexo printing solutions. Doing so enhances the unboxing experience for users and creates excitement around the brand.

Examples of companies that have used digital printing on their subscription mailing boxes include:

  • TeeTube: This company uses a classic, sleek design on their shipping packages. As the name suggests, the tubes displaying TeeTube’s unique logo are filled with t-shirts and other clothing items.
  • Trunk Club: Trunk Club uses a larger subscription mailing box with a minimal but pronounced digital design.
  • NatureBox: This company uses digital printing to convey a fun, lively vibe for all snack subscription boxes.
  • Bitsbox: Bitsbox uses gamer subscription boxes covered with printed guides and blue cartoon designs to appeal to kids who are excited about coding.

Flexography is another popular printing choice, and it’s often used for the following products and industries:

  • Craft beer and wine: When it comes to beer and wine bottles, there isn’t a label flexo cannot print.
  • Pizza: Pizza boxes use flexo printing due to its ability to print directly on the corrugated box.
  • Paper towels: Many paper towel brands use flexo printing to stand out from competitors.
  • Bags and seasonal candy wrappers: Flexo printing technology is ideal for printing large amounts of seasonal items, and candy wrappers are no exception. When consumer product companies want to switch up their logos or packaging to give specific products holiday flair, flexography is usually the go-to printing technology.
  • Metal panels for roofing and siding: The panels on metal siding and roofing can be designed with flexo, a printing solution that can mimic wood grain, cedar or asphalt shingles.

Create Your Own Custom Shipping Box Today

Whether you need flexo, digital or any other printing for your product packaging, Bolt Boxes is here to help. With almost 60 years in the industry and a G7 Master Qualification, we are committed to bringing our pre-press expertise to all of your branding efforts.

Design your own custom mailing box using our online configurator today. Or, if you’re unsure where to start, reach out to us for more information on our printing capabilities, or browse examples of our past work for inspiration.