One of the questions most often asked of us is “What is the minimum for your custom printed packaging?” We know that people typically expect a quick and easy response that might indicate a dollar amount or order quantity but unfortunately, it is simply not that easy.
We offer a very diverse selection of custom printed packaging options which include die cut mailer boxes, RSC shipping boxes, plastic and paper tape, plastic and paper mailer envelopes, custom printed interior or protective packaging and now even custom printed pallet stretch film. Each of these product categories has a slightly different minimum that can vary greatly, depending on a number of factors.
What factors impact the minimum?
Of course the type of product makes a huge difference as does the copy to be printed. For example, our minimum for printed tape is six cases, but for our unpadded paper mailers it is just one case. On some large RSC boxes, we can usually run 500 printed boxes but on smaller boxes or die cut mailer boxes, the minimum is likely to be closer to 1,000 boxes.
Regarding printing requirements, do you have a one color design in mind or perhaps multicolor reverse print that requires a flood coat? Potential customers usually have a very good mental image of what they have in mind but we have to know what the expectations are and more importantly, what it will take for us to create it.
We know the market well enough to know that our minimums are among the lowest in the packaging industry, however everything is relative. There are many companies who will not even consider making anything less than 5,000 printed boxes so comparatively, our 1,000 minimum is very low.
For example, we don’t know of anyone in our industry able to competitively run 200 or 300 boxes on a flexographic press and we can’t either. We have run very small orders for customers but ultimately they paid about the same price as they would have for 1,000 boxes. Most customers have a problem with that, however in a few select scenarios it makes sense, such as needing 50 or 100 custom boxes for a one time promotion when the marketing budget permits the expense.
Please understand using a teaspoon or a ladle of ink on your packaging makes very little difference on the price. The largest cost factor on any printed packaging job is set up time and that is the same whether we run 100, 1,000 or 100,000 products. The running time may vary but the set up time is exactly the same for all three order sizes. Setting up a high speed press can be very costly and time consuming so you can easily see how a fixed set up cost will be amortized over the length of the run and how it will affect the per piece price.
Will other costs vary as well?
Other branded packaging costs such as art, layout, print plates, cutting dies, etc. typically are one time costs that are paid up front and the product price per piece is not impacted by the size of the order.
A more sophisticated, larger die will always be more expensive than a simple, smaller die and a three color plate is usually three times more costly compared to a one color plate but the price per piece typically does not change much, if at all.
Also, don’t be intimidated by references to “expensive custom printed startup costs.” Our art/plate charge for printed tape is only $50 and for our non-padded paper mailers it is usually around $100. Once again, those are typically one-time expenses that should never repeat unless you change the copy or the size of the copy.
What about ink jet printing as a branding, low minimum option?
Ink jet versus flexographic or other direct contact printing is providing some interesting capabilities and potential but it also has limitations. It will likely never make it easy or possible to run 100 custom printed boxes profitably or at a reasonable price, however, if you need five hundred each of four different “flavors/scents/models” and you have a multicolor print that would require different sets of very expensive print plates, ink jet printing may be a good solution. As always, minimums will vary and apply.
The good news is that ink jet printing completely eliminates the need for print plates. However, the limitations include things like the inability to print white. You can expect to hear more from us soon on this new and exciting capability.
Please feel free to contact us or call us at 630-551-1700 to discuss your specific needs. We have the experience and resources to make your branded packaging objective an affordable reality.