As the name suggests, packaging printing is a process of printing letters, images, and other graphics on a wide range of packaging materials. There are different printing technologies in the market designed for various applications. Some are ideal for specific shapes and surfaces, while others are only economical for long-run printing, i.e. when printing tens or hundreds of thousands of products.

As a business owner, it’s essential to understand the different print packaging options, as this will help you choose the right printer ideal for your business clients. Most commercial printing businesses often choose short-run packaging printing. This is because it allows for small-scale printing of packaging materials, for example, 100 units or even less. That way, businesses can make shorter print runs that are cost-effective. We have discussed more on short-run packaging printing below.

How to Get Started with Short-Run Packaging Printing

Over the years, packaging and design have become a huge competitive advantage. Modern consumers want to buy goods whose packaging materials are sustainable. Similarly, if consumers feel that a packaging design is off, they are more likely to choose a different product. This has further incentivized businesses to be more strategic with the packaging materials they choose and how they brand them. Here’s how to get started with short-run printing.

Understand Your Printing Needs

Before setting up the packaging equipment and creating the designs for short-run printing, you must first understand your business printing needs. You also want to explore the different printing options and choose the most economical machine that allows for customization and flexibility.

Some of the questions you should ask yourself include:

  • Who are my ideal clients?
  • What is the minimum or maximum products I should print at a go?
  • What is my budget?
  • What print designs will I be dealing with? Are they flat designs, or do they contain delicate details?
  • What level of quality do my clients need? Do they need photo-realistic quality and heavy graphics?
  • Do my clients need a high level of customization to match their marketing needs?
  • How quickly can I integrate the prints into existing lines and use them on various substrates?

Explore Printer Options

Once you have correctly answered the above questions, you’ll be better positioned to explore the different printer options and choose one that suits your unique needs. A typical short-run packaging printer must have low or no minimum order quantities and should offer short turnaround times. It must also offer full-color printing capabilities, and where possible, it shouldn’t be preceded by any pre-treatments to help minimize printing cost and complexity.

When choosing an ideal short-run printer, always do your research. Prioritize the printer features and check the manufacturer’s reputation. You can refer to the official website or third-party review sites to check what past customers say about their products.

Benefits of Short-Run Packaging Printing

Short-run packaging offers several benefits for printing businesses that work with various consumer businesses that need to experiment with different packaging labels and designs. This printing technology is cost-effective in the long run since you only print what your clients want. Additionally, you don’t have to charge your clients the cost of storage/warehousing for bulk inventory that you don’t even need. Here are the other benefits of short-run packaging:

  • It allows for easy management of Inventory. Since you have the option to print an exact number of packaging products your clients want, you avoid overstocking products that can be challenging to manage.
  • It lowers risks for businesses. Short-run printing helps avoid excess products that are not needed at the moment. In case of a risk event, such as theft or damage from floods or fires, the level of damage is less significant.
  • It allows for personalized packaging. With a shorter print run, you can try as many print designs and business branding styles without worrying about inventory going to waste. This flexibility allows printing businesses to design more personalized packaging and help clients conduct effective market research to ensure success.
  • It provides a shorter turnaround. The other benefit of a shorter print run is that you can print small batches of packaging products incrementally, helping your clients respond faster to changing and volatile market conditions. That also means your clients can comfortably place last-minute orders and get them in the same week.
  • Ideal for product releases and promotions. Short-run prints are ideal for new product launches and promotions, thanks to the option of experimenting with different print labels and designs. Your clients also have the option to cancel poor designs for better ones without incurring significant losses.

Bottom Line

Whether you want to buy a high-quality, enterprise-grade printer for printing your packaging products in-house or are looking to start a printing business, a short-run printer is your ideal option. Besides the added flexibility and convenience, you also benefit from lower business risks, faster turnaround, and easy print inventory management.

When choosing a short-run printer, pay attention to the optimal print quality, printing speed, and image detail. You also want to check the lowest operating cost, and whether it supports clean operations, i.e., it should contain minimal volatile organic compounds (VOCs).