Setting up your design for CMYK Digital printing

inke packaging — March 12, 2021

Before getting stuck into your next package design, it's a great idea to get familiar with the printing process used to produce it to ensure the best results possible.

Orders placed online with us are printed using CMYK digital printing, which is fast becoming the preferred option amongst brands due to its range of sustainable benefits and manufacturing efficiencies that can be passed back to consumers.


What is CMYK digital printing?

To summarise, it's the process of printing an electronic file (PDF) directly to the surface of the material. Eliminating the need for any tooling and set up costs on artwork, allowing brands of all sizes to get involved with custom packaging at a fraction of the cost.

Thanks to its print on demand process, this eliminates the need for excess material to produce your order, meaning nothing goes to waste on the production of your packaging, which also, in turn, saves you money as you are only paying for what is needed.

Other advantages of digital printing are the ability to order smaller volumes and scale up as needed. Our products are primarily available from as low as 1 or 10 units through our online store. Allowing brands to order at their own pace and trial or test new product and designs before committing to larger purchases.

We utilise the latest state of the art technology to ensure you receive the best possible quality of packaging available, providing stunning results when designed correctly.

Digital production also offers quicker turnaround times, estimated as up to 14 business days (3 weeks) before despatch on all online orders.


What’s the difference?

Previously printing custom packaging in Australia was a limited option to consumers due to the higher minimum order requirements to offset production costs through traditional Flexographic (WaterPress) and Lithographic (PlatePress) processes.


Whilst traditional processes offer exact Pantone colour matches; it isn't a viable option to many brands as the commitment to capital outlay cannot be justified.

Digital production, which has heavily innovated over the past five years, accommodates this gap in the market, allowing brands to get involved more efficiently whilst providing near identical results.

We'll explain below how to get the most of your design using digital production.


Choosing the right material

Choosing your material will set the tone for your entire design, as this will determine how your colour choices are printed when applied to each surface.

We offer up to 4 material options across our cardboard products and one choice for our card-stock products.

White

Our most popular option available. This material uses an uncoated white surface on both sides of the cardboard, which can be used as a canvas to print any colour and design in matte mode with stunning results.

Kraft

It uses a classic natural brown surface on both sides of the cardboard, helping your packaging achieve a simplistic and sustainable look and feel.

We'd suggest sticking with darker colour tones for best results on this material, as lighter colours can appear slightly 'washed' when applied due to how the natural surface absorbs it.

Kraft-White

Combining the design principles outlined above, this material option uses a kraft surface for the outside and a white surface for the inside of your packaging. Giving you the ability to access the benefits of both options creatively.

LUX Coat

Like the principles outlined above in white, this option uses a coated outside surface to provide a more premium overall feel and optional gloss mode printing.

A great choice of material if your design uses bold and deep colours with contrasting white elements. We'd suggest using overall black designs on LUX Coat as the ink coverage density may not be suitable for this surface choice. Also, avoid using faint pastel and pale colours, as these are better suited to 'White' instead.

Hi-White

Unlike our cardboard options, this material has little to no restrictions when it comes to your design. Used for our Folding carton and Sleeved mailer box products, made from a 250gsm premium coated paper stock, it uses a white exterior surface to accommodate any colour and design, helping to provide a premium retail packaging result either gloss or matte mode.


Choosing the right colours

When choosing the best colours for your design, it's essential that you've considered your material selection first. Also key is that you understand the difference in results between Digital and PlatePress (Lithographic) production, in that how Pantone or screen colours you have selected will appear once printed.

Remember that printing in solid Pantone colour is only a viable option for you when printing above 3000 units to offset the setup costs.

Digital production will print all Pantone in the nearest CMYK equivalent with no setup costs, quicker turnaround times and near-identical results.

Full-colour designs

Designs that use a range of any colour combination, whether light or dark, complete or minimal coverage and anything else in between, then your best starting point would be to select White as your material option, as this accommodates all colours true to design.

Dark colours

All of our material options are suitable for printing darker colour tones with stunning results.

Pastel colours

Using pastel tones throughout your design, we'd suggest choosing your material selection as White to ensure the best printing results, as this uncoated material option best absorbs and compliments this kind of shade. Avoid using faint tones as if too light these may not show up as strong once printed.

Deep colours

Deeper colour tones will always result in the best finishes when applied to White or LUX Coat surfaces. They'll appear strong and solid, closely resembling Pantone selections.

Black backgrounds

Artworks that use predominately black backgrounds throughout their design are best to select White as the material option. The uncoated surface will enhance the black and provide crisp contrasting elements providing an overall premium feel.

Alternatively, you could choose to print black onto Kraft for a stunning minimal appearance.

When your design is overall solid black, always print in matte mode and avoid using LUX Coat as your surface as the density of the ink is not compatible in gloss just yet (we're working on it!)

White backgrounds

When your design uses a predominately white background, it's an excellent opportunity to consider using LUX Coat as your material option, as the semi-gloss coated surface provides a premium look and feel to all-white exterior areas.

Kraft packaging

Sometimes less can be more - Kraft packaging is a great way to showcase this. When designing for Kraft surfaces, you should ensure that you only use dark and navy hues for the best results.

Black will appear as black. However, colours will appear slightly dulled once printed as the surface absorbs it, so to avoid this, keep colours as bold or deep as you can.

White ink

Currently, a limitation of digital printing, we cannot print white ink directly to kraft surfaces. Meaning any white areas within your design will be left as unprinted surface area.

If you are interested in pursuing white-on-kraft further, contact our sales team to request a quote.

In the meantime, the good news is that we are working on soon introducing this service into our offering from lower minimum orders like the rest of our online store, so stay tuned for updates!


Stock choices

To keep things simple, we only utilise two board-grade options across our entire (cardboard) product category.

These are E-Flute (approx. 1.5mm thick) and B-Flute (approx. 4mm thick). E-Flute is a sturdy, lightweight board popular amongst eCommerce and retail brands due to its durability and economical offering. Whereas, B-Flute, is suitable when the packaging contents is heavier, fragile or just requires that extra bit of added protection for peace of mind.


We've taken the guesswork out of it for you and pre-selected these options to best suit each of our product options. You can find this information located in the left-hand column of each products design template.


Key Considerations

Now that you have had the rundown on digital printing, the last few things we would suggest are to familiarise yourself with our printing guidelines found in the download folder of your design template.

We want to ensure that you understand the differences between Digital production and PlatePress (Lithographic), as well as the benefits offered by each to align with your needs and requirements for wherever you stand within your businesses journey!

To reiterate everything, PlatePress, whilst offers stunning results on exact matches on PMS (Pantone) colours, requires a minimum order of 3000 units and an initial set up cost for your first order.

Whereas if you can't justify that outlay cost, CMYK digital production using the sizes available on our online store is the next best thing available, offering sustainable production whilst skipping the setup fees with near-identical results from as little as 1-10 units.

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