Packaging Printing FAQ

Professional Printing of Packaging in Durban

Simply put, packaging printing is the printing of certain graphic and text elements onto a specific substrate used to contain a specific product or item, usually in the retail environment. Packaging printing has evolved substantially since the invent of digital printing technologies, making it even easier to feature stunning, vibrant detail on packaging of any shape and size! Let’s take a closer look at the types of packaging used today, the functions of packaging, types of packaging printing available, how to choose the right packaging for your products, and how to get professional packaging printing done in Durban, South Africa…


Types of Packaging

There are five main types of packaging used globally, however there is a move away from unperishable packaging options due to their environmental impact. These five packaging options are:

  1. Plastic
    Resins, of various thicknesses and derived from plastic sources, are still the most common packaging options globally. This is mainly due to the cheapness of manufacture, however, there has been a huge outcry regarding plastic packaging’s devastating impact on the environment. Items commonly sold in plastic packaging, in South Africa, include loaves of bread, milk, sweets, meats, and various other foodstuffs.
  2. Glass
    Way better for the environment, but difficult to print on, is glass packaging. This type of packaging is commonly used for preserved items like jams, pickled foods, alcoholic beverages, etc. The only drawback with glass packaging is its fragility, however careful packaging of glass jars and bottles – using foam and cardboard secondary packaging options – will protect products well during transport and handling.
  3. Foam
    This type of packaging is used extensively for items of fragility, like televisions and other electronic devices, but is seldom used as a ‘client-facing’ packaging option. In other words, foam packaging will be used within another packaging types – like foam balls in a container housing breakable items, or foam corners placed on a TV within a cardboard box.
  4. Cardboard
    The second most popular packaging option is cardboard, and this material is becoming more and more popular due to its bio-degradability. Cardboard packaging comes in various thicknesses, depending on the product being stored and transported, and is by far the easiest type of packaging to print onto. Items sold in printed cardboard packaging include breakfast cereals, biscuits, high-end chocolates and sweets, and much more.
  5. Aluminium
    This type of packaging, or variants of aluminium, are extensively used in the retail food industry. Aluminium packaging, like the plastic variety, has lost popularity in recent years due to its low bio-degradability. Nevertheless, aluminium is still widely used to store fizzy drinks, alcoholic beverages, canned preserves and animal foods. Aluminium is also less of a packaging favourite due to the high costs of manufacture.


Functions of Packaging

Imagine if everything we bought during our monthly shopping sprees was sold in plain, transparent plastic bags! Product packaging is more than just something to make the product more appealing to shoppers. See the five functions of product packaging below:

  • Information
    The first and arguably most important function of product packaging is to disseminate information about the product. From nutritional information, to usage instruction, this product information can be printed directly onto the product’s packaging – or inserted along with the product using a fold-out brochure or pamphlet.
  • Containment
    The most practical function of packaging is to actually contain the product itself. This function of packaging often uses a combination of package types, like biscuits wrapped in plastic before being inserted into a branded box. In the case of liquid products, containment within packaging is of vital importance.
  • Protection
    Another crucial function of product packaging is protection. This includes protecting the product itself, protecting people who handle the product, and protecting the environment once the packaging has been discarded. Protecting the product involves displaying it in such a way that it won’t move around and get damaged during packing and transportation.
  • Utility
    This function of a product’s packaging is something manufacturers and brand managers are only starting to catch onto now. It involves considering the utility of the packaging once consumption has taken place, like reusing a glass English mustard jar as a water mug. Ensuring that packaging has utility after the product itself has been used reduces waste and the overall carbon footprint of the organisation.
  • Promotion
    The final function of packaging is to promote the product itself, as well as the brand distributing it. For this reason manufacturers will use vibrant colours, graphics, fonts and other elements to make their product stand out on the shelf. The more eye-catching a product’s packaging, the better its chance of being picked up and purchased.


Packaging Printing Options

There are five main types of packaging printing techniques, each used for different purposes in the packaging production process. These are offset or ‘litho’ printing, flexo printing, digital printing, rotogravure, and silkscreen. We look at each in detail below:

  1. Silkscreen Printing
    If your printing surface is unconventional, or not a flat surface, you might want to consider silkscreen printing for your packaging. This packaging printing technique is widely used to print onto promotional items like bottle caps, mugs, bottles and the like. The one negative is that this printing technique is not great when printing high volumes, so it’s better to use silkscreen printing for printing your prototypes.
  2. Digital Printing
    Hands down the most popular packaging printing technique, digital packaging printing is ideal for printing labels, as well as folding cartons, corrugated boxes and film for flexible packaging. The one major drawcard to digital packaging printing is that the turn-around time is amazing, so if you need packaging printed in a hurry – choose digital!
  3. Rotogravure
    People choose rotogravure packaging printing when wanting to print packaging featuring photo-realistic elements. This type of printing is ideal for stand-up pouches, folding cartons, and other flexible packaging. While rotogravure printing is perfect for superior quality prints, the costs of this type of packaging print are rather high.
  4. Flexo Printing
    This type of package printing has trouble printing large sections of colour, so flexo printing would be better used on simple, less detailed packaging graphics. The advantages of this printing style are that the costs are much less, one can use both water and oil-based inks, and the turnaround time is way faster.
  5. Litho Printing
    Litho, or ‘offset’ printing, is more than likely the most popular packaging printing technique used today. Litho packaging printing uses more than the standard 4-colour combination, and special coatings can be added – like matte or super high gloss. While this printing technique is ideal for any retail product packaging, it only works on flat surfaces.


Packaging Design Guidelines

Did you know that the average shopper dedicates a total of 4 seconds to a product they’re looking at on the shelf? So, if the packaging doesn’t grab them in four seconds, there’s little chance that they’ll buy it. Here are some packaging design guidelines to ensure your retail products fly off of the shelves:

  • Simplicity
    When it comes to effective product packaging design, there are two questions that need to be answered immediately when looking at the product: what is the product used for, and who is the company selling the product. Simple product packaging designs take the guess work out of it, allowing consumers to make faster purchase decisions.
  • Originality
    With so many products out there, all jostling for position on the retail outlet shelves, it’s no wonder consumers find it difficult to discern between one product and another, similar product. Therefore, one key element of product packaging is originality. This starts by looking at what competitors are doing, finding common design trends, and then doing the complete opposite. It might not be the ‘in’ thing, but you can bet your bottom Rand your product will stand out on the shelf.
  • Shelf Impact
    Speaking of shelves, another serious consideration is the way your products look on the shelves. Product packaging designs featuring much information on the cover tend to blur into the background, whereas simplistic packaging design stand out well. Also, consider which shelves your products will be found on, as products look different when views from above as opposed to straight-on or from below.
  • Transparency
    No, we don’t mean your packaging has to be see-through! We’re talking about transparency in the sense of honesty. For example, it is misleading to feature a product on your packaging that looks completely different to the product within the packaging. Take a look at these hilarious packaging versus real food comparisons to see just how often consumers are misled with inaccurate packaging design.


Packaging Printing in Durban

AIM Print, situated in Durban, South Africa, is a specialist packaging printing provider – servicing some of the biggest South African brands! We offer full-service printing solutions, so we’re able to assist with product packaging conceptualisation, graphic design, packaging printing and distribution! With over 20 years of printing experience, AIM Print has solidified a positive reputation in the KwaZulu-Natal printing industry. Contact us should you require assistance with packaging your products!