Custom Printed Boxes

Custom Printed Boxes

Custom Printed Boxes

Custom Printed Boxes add appeal to any packaging project. Without a basic understanding of box making practices and methods most buyers assume that printing graphics or a logo on a box is a simple procedure. We can send a man to the moon so what is so hard about getting 50 or so boxes in a specific size with our logo and graphic printed on it. Don’t misunderstand every box maker wants to service their customer and give the customer exactly what they want. However for box manufacturers there are fixed governing principles that cannot be compromised if box facilities are going to have success within their organizations.

First lets look at purchasing printed packaging from the perspective of the end user. Most end users assume that printing on packaging is as easy as 1, 2, 3…not so! In the USA the corrugated box and paperboard folding carton industry is a niche industry. Box making production plants across North America are organized and setup with different processes, machinery and core competencies. Each facility has evolved over time to focus and determine what their particular niche and demographic demands are. For example, one plant may be very good at only printing boxes in large runs, where another plant only has capacity to service small batches and specific size boxes and packages. Of course economies of scale play a big part in the corrugated and folding carton industries. With 480 minutes in a working shift a box making plant has to run lean and efficient and make use of every minute of the day to keep their doors open. The pricing of a printed box is in large determined by the number of boxes ordered by the end user or buyer. Change over, setup and transition from one project to the next takes time and labor. Most facilities that run custom printed boxes have minimums in order to meet their overhead and nut. If a buyer only needs 100 printed boxes the likelihood of getting best in class pricing is not very good. Why? Because the labor and the opportunity loss is greater for a small run batch.  The box facilities goal is to keep the machinery running at capacity throughout the shift and maintaining focus on their competencies. Because the economies of the box plant are determined by the cost of each package you can see how just ordering a few hundred boxes will carry a much higher price tag than an order of a few thousand boxes.

Information required to receive an accurate quote for Custom Printed Boxes

For a buyer or end user to receive an accurate quotation for the cost of a printed box their are many factors that need to be determined. Gathering the following information will expedite and speed up the quoting process!

  • Initial order quantity and the number of boxes and packages required. Quotations for printed boxes usually will be prepared showing minimum quantities and 3 or 4 price breaks for larger quantities.
  • Inside dimensions of the box. Ninety percent of all packages and containers are quoted with inside dimensions. Usually as, Length x Width x Depth. Height and Depth are the synonymous or the same.
  • Box Type. Corrugated Boxes are made to protect products and commodities during the shipping process and storage. Paperboard Boxes or Folding Cartons are for smaller retail products and perhaps smaller products that require a detailed explanation of use. Customer determines if the boxes will be corrugated boxes or paperboard (folding cartons) boxes.
  • Box Style is determined by how the box closes and assembles. RSC is the common style for a standard shipping box that has 4 flaps on the top of the box and the bottom of the box. Whereas an RETT box which rolls on the ends and tucks in the top is a die-cut box that folds together without tape or glue. More guidance can be given at time of order to help the customer understand the style of box that will best suit their purpose.
  • The grade and weight of material is mostly determined by how heavy the product and contents going into the container. Guidance and direction on what weight of liner and medium used will be best for each application. Edge Crush Test or Burst Test liners cater to different handling methods. Usually if the container is being shipped as a single parcel a burst strength box would be recommended over an edge crush strength material grade. Will the container and box be kraft or white material.
  • If the package or box requires printed graphics an artfile in PDF, EPS or Adobe Illustrator will be required. This artwork is laid out in a die-line for the buyer to see how the graphics will look on the container. A few things that need to be considered are: How many total colors? Will the colors be PMS or CMYK? Is the print a direct print or will the box be fully labeled with a litho laminated print. How many panels and sides of the container will be printed. Also the print area and size of the print on each quadrant of the box.
  • Last but not least is the buyer or end users ship to address? What address is the final destination of the packaging. Because each box plant has different core competencies the goal is to run the boxes as close to the final destination as possible.


ASTM-D5118 Boxes

ASTM-D5118 Boxes is a standardization for fabricating corrugated fiberboard boxes, and containers. The methods and practices include instruction for constructing corrugated boxes for the use of shipping products and components. This standard includes making boxes that will be suitable for handling packages of all different sizes and shapes both manually and mechanically. ASTM-D5118 lays out specifications which include specific detail on corrugated material grades, adhesive requirements, joint tab widths etc.. These fabrication practices increase and enhance the protection properties of the package against environmental conditions during shipping and storage.  Some products and commodities require more or less protection during the shipping process. Products that are shipped internationally need to be protected from high levels of humidity while on the water. Humidity softens corrugated boxes and packages unless the fabrication of the fiberboard is treated with specific chemicals that resist and repel moisture. Domestic shipments and packages that are shipped locally may not require any type of water resistant chemicals used in the adhesion process or on the liners but still might require mil-spec standards. Containers that contain explosives must comply with D.O.T regulations for the transport of Hazardous Materials.

V3C Boxes type CF WR is a military specification which includes ASTM-D4727 standards for weather resistant grades of material and sheet stock. Government contractors and Military procurement contracts require mil-spec packaging for their product and commodity shipments. The US Government put these corrugated packaging specifications in place years ago. In some instances the corrugated boxes which the government requires shipment of certain products seems to be an overkill.  Many commodities that are manufactured for government contracts could be shipped in standard domestic corrugated boxes that do not meet the V3C box specs. With high probability these products would most likely arrive undamaged without any incidents. Nevertheless government policies and methods have never been proven to be lean and efficient. It’s not to say that V3C boxes should not be robustly fabricated for certain applications and product shipments. When shipping products it is always better to be safe than sorry and error on the end of the spectrum that ensures absolute safe shipping methods.


V11C Spec Boxes

ASTM_D5118 Boxes

V3C Boxes, Mil Spec Packaging




Corrugated Box Dimensions


Box Dimensions RSC

Box Dimensions RSC

Corrugated Box dimensions are always measured from the interior of the box regardless of the box style except for open top bin boxes or  shelf boxes. A shelf box is expressed in outside dimensions in most cases. The inside dimensions on an RSC box are always expressed as L x W x D with the longest panel usually shown as the Length dimension. The Length dimension is always the first number in the series of the three. The shorter panels which are referred to as side panels are the Width dimension of an RSC box. The third number is the Depth dimension of the box which is referring to the height of the box.  Corrugated Box dimensions are expressed a little differently for each style of box. SEE MORE

For example an FOL style Box that loads on the ends of the box could be expressed as 10 x 8 x 24. This box would load through the 10 x 8 inch opening. The first two numbers determine the opening or loading dimensions of a box if the box has a glue joint. The difference between an RSC Box and an FOL Box is in the flaps. On an RSC the flaps seam or meet in the middle, whereas an FOL each flap spans the entire width of the corrugated box, thus giving the box more corrugated layers and greater cushion on the ends or openings. To finish or close an RSC carton the streamer of tape is run down the middle of the box. On an FOL style the box would be taped on the edges.

FOL Style Box

FOL Style Box

FPF (five panel folder) and OPF (one-piece folder) boxes do not have a glue tab or joint. These style boxes usually fold around the product and then are sealed. FPF has 5 panels, the 5th panel overlays the 1st panel which gives the box additional padding and strength. An OPF box is cut in the shape of a cross. The center panel has a 12 o’clock wing, a 3 o’clock wing, a 6 o’clock wing and a 9 o’clock wing. The product is placed in the center panel of the corrugated sheet or box and then the 2 adjacent panels are folded in followed by the last 2 panels making a perfect package. Both Five Panel Folders and One Piece Folder Boxes are usually best for shallow or low profile products. For example, a OPF style box would be the style of box you would use as a book folder or book mailer. An FOL or a FPF carton is ideal for a car bumper or golf club or some other long shaped product or thing.

FOL boxes are suited also for artwork, paintings and pictures. You can see more about FOL boxes and Picture Boxes by clicking on the link.

Custom Boxes with Logos


Custom Boxes


Custom Boxes with logos can be run in a myriad of ways. Packaging is always a necessary evil associated with any product development project. Unfortunately it never takes priority until the last step in the process for many companies. A custom made box with a logo can enhance branding and lend a certain appeal to any product line if designed correctly. In many cases the package is the only source of product information for the potential buyer. Package design for custom boxes is an important step when it comes to product development. With lithographic printing methods, corrugated boxes can be laminated with beautiful 4 color graphics without image distortion.

On the other hand corrugated fiberboard is not an ideal substrate for printing high quality print. However with Litho-laminated labels a box can be brought to life with any design or image. Direct print on corrugated fiberboard is a less expensive method for companies that just require a printed name and address on the box with a 1 or 2 color logo. Custom boxes with logos and product branding increase buyer awareness and company brands. Poly and metal plates called print-dies can be used on a drum or flatbed press.  The print-plates attach to the box making machinery either on a drum or a flatbed press which allows for the sheets to be printed inline as the boxes are being cut. To learn more about custom printed  boxes go to:  CUSTOM BOXES with PRINT




Custom printed boxes

Custom Printed Boxes