Printing on Cardboard Packaging & Boxes

Cardboard, also referred to as corrugate, is one of the most commonly used materials in the world today. Prized for its tear-resistant, flexible, and lightweight properties, cardboard is used across many industries to construct both shipping containers and product packaging.
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Approximately 100 billion cardboard boxes are produced each year in the U.S. alone. Of course, to effectively function in shipping and retail contexts, these packages need to be marked with identifying codes that ensure traceability and enable proper inventory management practices.

Barcodes, lot codes, expiration dates, and more may all be required depending on what products are being packaged and which requirements are held by the specific shipping/retail channel. Unreadable or absent codes can cause shipments to be misdirected, inventory mishaps, and/or hefty fines from retailers. 

Fortunately, printing on cardboard packaging doesn’t have to be a challenge. InkJet, Inc. has the expertise necessary to help companies find the right printer and ink combination to produce clearly legible, machine-readable codes. 

Case Coding printer coding a cardboard box

The Challenges of Printing on Cardboard Packaging

While cardboard has several characteristics that make it ideal for packaging, other properties can make it difficult to print on. Most notably, cardboard is:

  • Porous: This means that the ink will sink beneath the substrate’s surface and disperse upon application. This leads to reduced character legibility and unscannable barcodes if they are applied with an incompatible ink type. Further complicating this issue, treated cardboard is semi-porous, creating unwieldy ink dispersion unless specifically accounted for. 
     
  • Generally brown: The combination of black ink and a white surface is ideal for barcodes as the high level of contrast creates clearly discernible and machine-scannable codes. Black ink on a brown surface can never achieve the same level of contrast compared with a white background, so the scannability can be compromised. 

These elements can make cardboard printing an intimidating undertaking which is why we work with each customer to figure out the exact combination of printer and ink to fit their operation and the type of cardboard and other materials they may use.

TIJ printer coding cardboard box

The Ideal Machines for Printing on Cardboard Packaging

Here at InkJet, Inc., we offer a line of products perfect for cardboard (corrugate) printing. Depending on the details of your operation (e.g., line speed, output volume, required image size, etc.) these two printer types will meet your coding needs:Weighing in at only a few pounds, the thermal inkjet printers found in the Anser series are both portable and powerful. Equipped with easily swappable ink cartridges, Anser TIJ printers offer

  • Highly readable barcodes on both porous and semi-porous cardboard: Anser series printers can be outfitted with ink types specifically formulated for porous cardboard and semi-porous treated cardboard.
     
  • A user-friendly interface: Equipped with easy-to-use LCD screen interfaces, Anser series printers are intuitive machines that are easy to operate.
     
  • Simple installation: The compact size and light weight of Anser printers allow them to be integrated into line setups with ease.
     
  • Zero-maintenance operation: The ink cartridges used by Anser printers eliminate the need for costly printhead servicing, as the disposable cartridges themselves serve as printhead units.
     

Image stitching: Depending on the Anser model, these machines offer either 0.5” or 1.0” print height. For larger images, multiple stacked units can be used in conjunction with one another to create a larger image.

Precision Series case coding printhead

Equipped with either 18mm or 72mm printheads, Precision Series case coders are designed for porous substrate applications. The concentrated ink used by these machines helps ensure all codes are clear, crisp, and machine-readable. Additionally, these case coders offer:
 

  • Internal barcode generation: Precision Series printers can operate as completely standalone machines. Equipped with label design software and internal memory, these case coders allow users to create and store designs without the use of an external computer.
     
  • Seamless system integration: In addition to standalone functionality, these printers can be easily integrated into external networks as well. Providing complete compatibility with NiceLabel and Windows systems, Precision Series models are capable of bi-directional printing and communication.
     
  • Dual-head functionality: Precision Series printers can be equipped with two printheads, allowing operators to print on two box sides at the same time, whether for repeat images or independent codes. Also, heads can be stacked to create a much larger image area to be printed, such as ingredient information, etc.

Find the Hardware/Ink Combination That’s Right for You

Here at InkJet, Inc., we have been in the ink business for over 30 years. We know how important it is to create reliably scannable barcodes and legible markings, and we know the machinery required to get it done. If you have any questions about what model printer or ink is right for your unique operation, simply give us a call and we’ll provide you with the expert guidance you need. 

For more information on how to outfit your operation for printing on cardboard packaging, contact InkJet, Inc. online or by phone at (800) 280-3245.

 

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