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02 Jul 2012

A basic guide to choosing the right print process

By Dudley Underwood

Smurfit Kappa’s flexo printing expert and Technical Director of the European Flexographic Technical Association (EFTA) for 17 years

Finding the right combination of print process and substrate selection to meet your product and marketing objectives can be daunting. We offer a complete range of print process including lithographic, flexographic post print, high-quality post print, preprint, screen and digital print.

The way to approach the task of specifying the best print process for paper-based packaging can be taken in three steps.

Step 1 – The role

Clearly understand the role of the specific pack – primary, multi-pack, secondary (outer pack), or display pack – or indeed a mixture of these.

Step 2 – Protect or promote

Clearly understand what is expected of the packaging from delivery to packing line, through the supply chain to eventual unpacking. In particular, understand the ‘protect / promote equation’ that considers the relative importance of keeping product safe and attracting product sales. This will usually lead to a decision to use solid or corrugated board.

Step 3 – Viewing distance

Clearly understand the viewing distance for packaging. Is it going to be judged close up or at a greater distance? Significant differences between some print processes are not noticeable or barely recognisable when considering the effect of the viewing distance.

Influencing factors

The final selection of the most appropriate print process will also involve other considerations:

  • Graphic requirements: Depending upon your desired results, ranging from photographic quality to traditional graphics, this will influence the most suitable print process.
  • Consistency: there may be a requirement for several items of packaging to look part of the same ‘family’ and that may drive towards a decision to use the same process for many specifications, involving some compromise.
  • Cost: select a print process which offers best value for a given commercial challenge.

For more information on selecting the appropriate print process for your packaging and for a full explanation of our different print processes, please contact us.