Many e-commerce and retail sellers prefer poly mailers over boxes. The choice is clear- poly mailers are lightweight, inexpensive, and save space. Manufacturers also use custom printed poly mailers for branding rather than using boxes. Good print on poly mailers can help establish brand identity. However, poly mailers are made from polyethylene and hence not all printing methods are applicable. Let’s discuss the techniques of printing on flexible packaging, in this case- poly mailers.
What Are Poly Mailers?
Poly mailers are thin, lightweight, and protective envelopes made from polyethylene (PE). Polyethylene makes the poly mailers durable and moisture resistant. Poly mailers come in different sizes and can be custom made according to the user requirement. Typically, they are white or grey in color, but it is possible to color print them.
Printing Methods for Poly Mailers
While shipping, custom printed poly bags need the print to be waterproof and durable. A good print on your merchandise packaging can win customers in long run. The common printing methods for poly mailers include-
- Inkjet printing
- Screen printing
- Offset Printing
But, which method matches your packaging expectation and at the same time is feasible. The following section describes the printing methods on poly mailers.
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Inkjet printing works on the principle of creating digital images. It is a method of computer printing, which propels droplets of ink on the plastic print. A wide range of inkjet printers is available- from home models to professional.
Since poly mailers are a plastic derivative, regular water-based ink is not suitable for printing. The inkjet printers need to use solvent-based ink for printing poly mailers. This ink is able to produce a waterproof and smudge-free print.
Benefits of inkjet printing
- Inkjet printing is best for retail use.
- It is feasible to buy an inkjet printer for printing less quantity of poly mailers.
- Inkjet printing is fast.
If you change your poly mailer packaging print frequently and need a fewer number of printing units, then you can buy a semi-professional model of the inkjet printer. This can reduce the hassle of finding a retail printer. There will be a one-time investment, but it will save printing cost in the future.
- Sometimes, inkjet printers fail to produce image detail on poly mailers.
- Inkjet printing is expensive for bulk printing.
Screen printing is an old technique for printing in bulk. In this method, a screen is created, which is a combination of a frame and mesh. A mesh is a piece of a polymer having tiny apertures. Spreading the ink on the screen placed on the mailer creates the print.
One needs to make as many numbers of screens as the number of colors on the print.
Benefits of screen printing
- In screen printing, there is a dedicated screen or stencil for your art-work. One can use the same screen multiple times and with different colors thereby reducing the printing cost which makes it a very economical method, especially for bulk printing.
- Screen printing is a flexible printing technology applicable to poly mailers of any size and thickness. Even padded poly mailers can be printed using this technique.
- Screen printing is a great method to print custom mailers with logo.
- Screen printing is a time taking method.
- This method is suitable only when the poly mailer print requires one or two colors.
- In most cases, only one poly mailer can be printed at a time.
Screen printing also requires prepress work and the cost of printing varies according to the number of colors and details.
Screen printing was once a popular method but because it requires human efforts, it is not that common these days.
Flexography is a popular method for printing nonporous materials like plastics and poly mailers. It is the upgraded version of the letterpress printing method. In flexography printing, flexible plate, which uses a relief carving design, prints the pattern. It is a suitable method for printing in bulk. Rolls of poly mailers can be printed at once and cut later.
Benefits of flexography printing
Flexography uses heat rollers for printing. This makes the print or color durable. The same machine can be used later to heat seal the poly mailers. Another great advantage of using flexography printing is that it can print on the plastic surface even with the water-based inks. For durable and High Definition print, UVC (Ultraviolet Curable) inks are also a great choice with flexography printing.
Solvent-based inks are 50-70% cheaper than water-based inks. But water-based inks are more environmentally sustainable.
If your poly mailer packaging requires printing with solid colors over a large surface, then flexography is the best method.
Flexography printing requires setting tooling and prepress process- plate making and mounting. The printing cost rises by using aqueous inks on poly mailers. This method is not ideal for print requiring more than 3 colors.
Offset lithography is one of the popular printing techniques. Offset printing creates high definition images and is an economical way of printing in large volume.
This method needs prepressing and the modern day offset printing uses the computer-to-plate system, which is simpler and more accurate.
Benefits of offset printing
- Offset printing is able to create a high definition image.
- It is the least expensive method for making custom printed courier bags and poly mailers.
- Quick and easy tooling and prepress process.
If you require printing poly mailers in large quantities, then offset printing is the most reasonable method.
For printing poly mailers, offset printing creates inferior images then rotogravure. However, this is the cheapest method, therefore a slight compromise on image quality is not bad.
Read more on Flexographic v/s Lithographic printing to find which one is better for your business.
Rotogravure printing method involves engraving an image on to a cylinder. Using a rotary printing press, the image or design is printed on the poly mailers.
Rotogravure was once a staple method for printing photo-features in newspapers. But, nowadays, this method is more common for printing high-quality images on packaging material like poly mailers.
Benefits of rotogravure printing
- Rotogravure is capable of printing poly mailers of different thickness.
- The cylinders are long lasting and create quality images even after long use.
- Per unit cost reduces when the number of printing copies increases.
Rotogravure printing method requires high set-up cost. It is feasible only when your business requires printing thousands of poly mailers.
Why Choose Custom Printed Poly Mailers?
Custom printed poly mailers play an important role in creating the brand identity. Unless someone is an expert at printing, one cannot distinguish the method used to print the poly mailers. One can even create a great print using a single color and traditional printing method like screen printing. You can easily create shiny, matte, shiny-matte combined, patterns, etc. poly mailers by choosing the right printing method.
Hence, depending on the number of poly mailers you require, cost, and the marginal time to get them printed, you can choose the printing method that suits you best.
Click here to read more about types of packaging mailers.2