Branded D2C Packaging – Is Digital Printing the Best Option for You?

Branded D2C Packaging – Is Digital Printing the Best Option for You?

Branded D2C Boxes—When Digital Printing is a Better Option Compared to Flexographic Printing.

Since launching at the end of 2017, we have grown to learn a great deal about the digital printing process and how to best utilize that information and experience to better serve our customers. Educating potential customers so that they can make well-informed decisions has always been our goal, and the hundreds of inquiries we receive each month typically lead us to a handful of recurring questions that form the content of our blogs. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that every day, we receive at least one inquiry from someone who is straddling the line between flexographic and digital printing for their branded packaging. Depending on the specifics of your project, both options may be available to you. Ultimately, the right choice will be determined by a number of factors including: order quantity, box size, graphics/art, as well as weighing start-up costs against per unit costs.


Digital Printing For Low-Volume or Promotional (One-Time) Runs

Our minimum for flexographic printing is 1,000 boxes (per size/design). There are many startup businesses who simply cannot make this kind of commitment, be it financially or logistically. While the minimum for digital printing largely depends on the size of the box, as well as the graphics involved, it will always be a lower minimum than flexographic due to the equipment and set-up time involved. 

One-time promotional, gift, holiday or other packaging without the need for future reorders is ideal for digital printing because you do not have to purchase print plates (typically $600 per color inside and outside) nor order a quantity higher than you need. 


Digital Printing for Complex Graphics or Combo Runs

Flexographic printing is almost always 1 or 2 colors, as numerous colors presents printing challenges. 3 or more color designs, as well as photographic images, gloss and other finishes are all possible on the digital side. Digital printing allows for virtually any design imaginable and due to the equipment involved, you can print multiple (different copy) designs within the same run. This is ideal for the customer that has a vision of creating a different look for a range of products they offer, be they different flavors, fragrances or other such varieties.


Digital Printing to Minimize Up Front Set Up Costs (Print Plates)

On a per box basis, digital printing will likely almost-always be a higher cost than flexographic printing. However, digital printing does not require print plates, which can be a substantial initial investment for a first-time customer. Print plates average $600 per color/ per side of the box printed, and in some cases may cost over $1,000 for full ink coverage. This can become especially expensive in cases where multiple colors are printed inside and out. 

We talk often about rebranding and see customers modify their artwork frequently because of a change to their brand, tagline or URL 6 months after they’ve launched. Any change to the copy or the box size would require new print plates to be purchased for future runs, if printing flexographic. Digital printing is ideal if you anticipate changes to your design, or simply want the flexibility of not being committed to a particular design or brand for the short, or long term. You can see the cost comparison of flexographic vs. digital color/design change below.



Color Change—No print plate charge/change. Possible added order cost if changing the color in the middle of a run.

Design Change—New print plant charge/change if modifying existing copy.

Design Addition—Additional print plate will need to be purchased.



Color change—No added setup cost.

Design change and/or addition—No added setup cost.


Please Contact Us Today

We’re happy to walk you through an initial consultation and find a custom packaging solution that works for you. As always, if you have any questions, one of our branded packaging advisors is standing by to assist, with decades of experience behind them. Want to know more about digital printing? Visit us at Want to know more about custom packaging? Please call us today at 630-551-1700 or contact us via email at


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