Posted on June 21, 2022 by Michael Boik

How Much Added Cost is there in Custom Printed Packaging?

There may be a perception that adding custom printing to your packaging will drastically increase your overall packaging costs, something that during an economic downturn (dare we use the dreaded “R” word?) may be unfeasible when the focus is on cost-savings and protecting the bottom line. Can you really afford branded packaging during a recession or time when costs are high and sales might be down? The answer may surprise you, as you examine the breakdown of what costs are involved.

One Color Exterior Prints

Adding a 1 color exterior print to a stock size die cut mailer or RSC is going to minimally affect your per box price. In fact, it may be an increase of only pennies. This is due to the flexographic printing process. The equipment is designed to cut and print the board in the same pass, provided that the print is on the outside of the box. So from a manufacturing standpoint, it is virtually the same amount of time involved to produce 1,000 unprinted boxes, as 1,000 boxes with a 1 color outside print. This means you are really only paying for the added ink cost (which is minimal because we use inexpensive, water based inks). There is also a one-time print plate cost to consider, but this cost can be low if the ink coverage is minimal, and the one-time investment can pay great long-term benefits in having branded packaging instead of a plain, unprinted box.

What about additional colors and inside printing?

Adding an additional color to the box exterior may not increase the cost by more than a few percentage points. Flexographic equipment is generally designed to print up to 3 colors in the same pass, so you are not typically paying for any added labor time. You are again paying for the cost of ink, and the print plates, as each color does require its own print plate. However, the cost for two print plates may equal to the cost for one print plate, if the surface area coverage of ink remains the same. For example, if you print your logo in green and the print plate cost is $800, printing the same logo the same size in green and blue would break down to two print plates that cost $400 each.

Interior printing will cost more than printing on only the exterior. However, due to advancements in equipment, printing the interior of an RSC can be very affordable, because of the ability to print both sides in the same pass. This is perhaps the best bargain you can find in DTC packaging. You can read more about inside printing on RSCs here.

“Free” Printing Options

Believe it or not, there are a few options available to you which result in getting custom printing at little to no added cost at all, including no additional print plate costs. On most sizes, we can print a solid flood coat in a single color, using what is called a matte plate. This is a print plate that we store in house, that we use at no charge to you. So to get a solid color printed on your box, we can do this without you having to buy a print plate. The important thing to remember is that a flood coat must cover the entire side (outside or inside) with no additional graphics, words, logos etc.

If you are buying a print plate to print the exterior of a mailer, you can take advantage of a little custom printing loophole. Printing on the two side flaps that fold in, will allow you to essentially get interior print for free, as you can see in the example below. These two side flaps are printed along with the rest of the exterior design, but are folded in and are a great way to get more bang for your buck.

Want to know more about custom printed packaging? Please contact us via the link or phone number below.


Please Contact Us Today

As always, if you have any questions on any of our products or services, one of our branded packaging advisors is standing by to assist, with decades of experience behind them. Please call us at 630-551-1700 or contact us via email at


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