Pre-printed cartons vs carton print & apply: which is better?

Matthews Australasia Pty Ltd

Thursday, 02 March, 2017



Pre-printed cartons vs carton print & apply: which is better?

Inline carton printing and labelling can be a great alternative to pre-printed cartons. This quick Q&A gives an overview.

Q. We've always used pre-printed cartons…

A. Manufacturers have long relied on pre-printed cartons or shippers for packing and shipping product, but this limits the flexibility. Information can’t be updated quickly, and there’s risk of wasted inventory if cartons need to be updated at short notice. And if you discontinue a product or change information? Then the cartons, plus time and money in creating them, are scrapped.

Q. So what are the advantages of inline coding and labelling?

A. The main one is being able to use generic boxes rather than brand or product-specific packaging. This saves money tied up in inventory and physical storage. Direct coding or print-and-apply labelling with an LPA is a highly cost-effective solution, particularly if you produce a range of SKUs or will expand your range.

Q. Is inline coding high quality?

A. Today’s inline carton coders and LPAs print high resolution, high quality information at high speeds on secondary packaging, including corrugated boxes, trays, SPRs etc.

Q. What can inline coding print?

A. Both variable and static information simultaneously: barcodes, graphics, large and small text, logos, 2D codes and linear 1D codes. You can reduce (or eliminate) pre-printed carton numbers, simply using one plain carton type in various sizes.

Q. Any other benefits?

A. There are many! Manufacturers will save space (in inventory and the printers’ small production-line footprint). You gain flexibility (less forward planning than pre-printed cartons, reducing operations and planning complexity; output is based on product not packaging availability, maximising your plant’s operational flexibility). Changeover time is reduced (great for smaller and contract manufacturers who change products/packaging multiple times daily). You can fully integrate inline coding and other technologies on a production line, managing them from a single centralised controller, improving line efficiency.

Q. Who do pre-printed cartons suit then?

A. They’re a viable option for many manufacturers. Some choose both. Manufacturers can pre-print cartons with just branding, while all other information is coded or labelled on the production line.

Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Alexey Stiop

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