Carton Packaging Buying – Must Know Facts about your Packaging Quotes

Reduce Your Packaging Costs by Understanding One-Off Charges

cost reduction icon

 

In this article we look at the elements of your packaging price that is made up of recurring and costs that are a one-off charge. We hope that when you have read this you will be in a better position to review and compare packaging quotes from different suppliers, regardless of how they present their quotation.

Key takeaway : make sure your print quote is fully broken down – showing you which parts of the costs are one-off charges and which parts of the costs are costs that you will incur every time you reprint your packaging.

Some suppliers may not break down their quotation, preferring to focus on an all-inclusive total price for the job. However, if you expect that you will need re-runs of your packaging in the future, it is important to know how much of your quotation is comprised of recurring costs (i.e. costs of production) and how much is non-recurring  (i.e. one-off costs incurred in the first production run only, such as keylines, printing plates and cutting formes)

If you have any queries on any element of this article or need any help on any aspect of packaging, contact the Dollard Sales Team on 01 – 847 00 44

New product, new packaging

In order to manufacture carton or sleeve packaging for a new product or product range for our customers, we first have to assemble the job specific tools for the job; keylines, printing plates, cutting formes, etc.  As you would expect, each of these items come at a cost. However, when a customer needs another batch of the same packaging in the future, (with no changes to the design or box/sleeve structure), these items are already in place.  Therefore, we won’t have to charge you, the customer, for these costs again.

In order to fully understand this, it is necessary to take a brief look at what these costs are…..we’ve tried to not use too much printing and packaging jargon! (In case you’re interested, watch out for our forthcoming Packaging Jargon Buster on www.dollard-packaging.ie)

 

Design Process

Before you start to engage the services of a packaging designer, talk to a packaging supplier Yes, talk to your packaging supplier first. The reason for this is that the functionality of the carton or sleeve is the first thing to consider. The overall structure of the packaging should be considered before you engage a designer to create wonderful artwork to enhance your presence on the shelves or wherever your product is displayed. At Dollard we can help you create the correct structure of your packaging and supply your designer with a Keyline (A Keyline is a layout guide that your designer must use to format the artwork correctly. This ensures that when the packaging is printed and folded, all packaging sides face the correct direction and all the interlocking/overlapping parts fit together perfectly) See keyline example below.

Keyline for Carton Printing

Keyline for Carton Printing sample

When your graphic designer is finished creating the artwork, he/she can upload onto our system. We will produce a proof for you to check that everything is correct. You may find our downloadable guide – Proofing Checklist helpful.

If at some future time, you need an exact reprint of this packaging, we would not need to repeat the proofing process as we will use the previously printed sample as our guide. Therefore any proofing costs are non-recurring. (However, if you make any change to your artwork, a new proof is necessary to ensure that everything is correct)

 

Upon Artwork approval

Now that the keyline is approved, we can commence the “pre-press” work. This is the work that is required before the printing press can start printing. Two items must be produced in the pre-press process – the printing plates to transfer the image onto the board (i.e. cardboard) on the printing press, and the cutting forme required to cut out the shape of your carton from the printed sheet.

What is a printing plate?

A printing plate is a thin sheet of metal on which the artwork or image appears. The printing plates are affixed to the printing press and the image is transferred from the plate to a rubber “blanket” and from there onto the sheet of cardboard. What’s important to know is that one printing plate is needed for each colour – colourful packaging is usually printed in “4 colour process” so 4 plates are required. (Dollard can print 6 colours and a UV varnish but for simplicity in this article, we will use the 4 colour process example as that is the most commonly used type of colour printing)

printing plate

Lithographic Printing Plate

Are printing plates a one-off or a recurring charge?

Our Printing plates can be retained and re-used on future print runs, provided there is no change to the artwork. Therefore, our plates are a non-recurring cost. However, some suppliers charge for plates for each print run. When comparing quotations from different packaging suppliers, be sure to ask if the cost of plates is included.

What is a cutting forme?

A cutting forme is a series of sharp blades set into a wooden frame. The blades are set into the shape of your packaging in accordance with the keyline, whether it is a carton or sleeve. Cutting formes are made by specialist forme makers who supply the forme to us. The formes are set into our cutting and creasing machines which cut out your carton from the printed sheet. The forme also cuts out any “die-cuts” or windows that are in your packaging.

 

Are cutting formes a one-off charge?

Cutting formes are a one-off charge, provided that you don’t make any changes to the structure of your packaging on subsequent re-runs. For example, if you decide to make the window patch on your carton 4cm bigger, a new forme would have to be made as the blades on the original cutting forme are set to cut the window in the original size.

 

What happens if I print more than one type of packaging in the first run?

If you are producing more than one new product line and you need different packaging for each product line, it often makes sense to get them printed at the same time to minimise set-up times etc.  If, for example, you are a food producer and you are launching 3 types of ready-meals, consider grouping the 3 items together on the same printed sheet.  Considerable savings can be achieved by minimising the number of printing plates required. See the example below showing 3 carton types printed up on a sheet.

What is a cutting forme? • A cutting forme is a series of sharp blades set into a wooden frame. The blades are set into the shape of your packaging in accordance with the keyline, whether it is a carton or sleeve. Cutting formes are made by specialist forme makers who supply the forme to us. The formes are set into our cutting and creasing machines which cut out your carton from the printed sheet. The forme also cuts out any “die-cuts” or windows that are in your packaging. • Are cutting formes a one-off charge? • Cutting formes are a one-off charge, provided that you don’t make any changes to the structure of your packaging on subsequent re-runs. For example, if you decide to make the window patch on your carton 4cm bigger, a new form would have to be made as the blades on the original cutting form are set to cut the window in the original size. What happens if I print more than one type of packaging in the first run? If you are producing more than one new product line and you need different packaging for each product line, it often makes sense to get them printed at the same time to minimise set-up times etc. If, for example, you are a food producer and you are launching 3 types of ready-meals, consider grouping the 3 items together on the same printed sheet. Considerable savings can be achieved by minimising the number of printing plates required. See the example below showing 3 carton types printed up on a sheet.

 

However, by grouping the jobs together, only 4 plates were required instead of 12 plates which would be required if each type was on separate plates.  As an additional benefit, running the jobs together also has the advantage of increasing the sheet run, further reducing unit costs per carton. Also, there is no need to stop the press during the print run in order to change the printing plates because the 3 different types are printed on the same sheet.

What about if I want different quantities of each type packaging?

In this case it may or may not be more economical to print each carton type on separate plates – this will depend on the quantities of each type, and whether or not you know if you will need to get further print runs of each type.

 

Confused?

At this point, you may be feeling a little confused!!  You don’t really have to understand all the technical side, just to have an awareness of the effect on cost of recurring and non-recurring costs. The important thing to talk to us at the quotation stage – we can discuss all the options with you in order to find the most cost-effective way to produce your cartons. Also it is useful to ask suppliers to show which costs are non-recurring in their quotations, should a repeat order arise.

At Dollard we have staff with vast experience in producing cartons and we have a particular expertise in food packaging. Our priority is that you feel like you have received excellent value and quality when you purchase your packaging from Dollard.

Dollard 01 847 0044

Dollard Sales Team

Belinda Emmett, Mandy Keogh, Anthony Murphy, Ronan Greene