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Insights: Articles & Resources by Oliver Inc.


What Can I Print On Custom Boxes?

From foil stamping and specialty coatings to debossing and embossing, custom boxes have abundant options for decorative effects, helping you generate greater brand affinity.

    6 minute read

Honestly, if you can dream it, there’s a good chance you can print it on a custom box or folding carton.

Whether it’s a matte finish, raised elements, high gloss shine, vibrant colors, or something more minimalist and durable, custom boxes are a versatile packaging solution for any brand. 

Let’s take a look at what goes into printing custom boxes and which decorative effects are at your fingertips. 

Printing on Custom Boxes

Custom boxes and folding cartons frequently have elaborate visual designs. These are made possible by one of two printing methods: offset and digital. 

Offset Printing

Used in lithographic (“litho”) and flexographic (“flexo”) printing, offset is a traditional means of applying inks and visual designs to custom boxes relying on a sequence of etched aluminum plates fixed to a cylinder.

You can employ CMYK or eight-color printing in one movement, enhancing the visuals you apply to a wide variety of substrates. If you need to custom spot colors or find nearly perfect color matching, extended gamut printing augments your printing capabilities.  

Offset printing is ideal for large print runs, because while upfront costs are greater, expenses reduce dramatically for each printed unit. Plus, offset delivers incredibly high quality, since its precise ink flow control facilitates sharp visual details. 

Digital Printing

A relatively recent innovation, digital printing utilizes electronic files rather than etched plates for creating images. Since you don’t have to manufacture plates, the printing process is expedited, with lower upfront costs compared to traditional methods.

This delivers several meaningful advantages, including quicker turnarounds on print runs, greater customization and personalization, at-the-ready printing, and cost-effectiveness with low- and medium-volume runs.  

Both approaches are implemented when printing custom boxes and folding cartons, so which decorative effects can you create with them?

Decorative Effects Available for Printing Custom Boxes

From foil stamping and specialty coatings to debossing and embossing, custom boxes have abundant options for decorative effects. 

Foil Stamping

Often employing traditional metallic hues such as gold and silver, foil stamping involves adhering metallurgic material to substrates, in any color. This provides a certain degree of elegance to custom boxes that really grabs the eyes of consumers. 

Specialty Coatings & Laminations

Involving a film derived from polyester, nylon, or polypropylene, specialty coatings and laminations are bonded to a substrate using pressure and high temperatures. This includes UV gloss and reticulating varnish. Providing additional glimmer to other visual elements, coatings and laminations can help protect custom boxes against abrasions or enhance their overall durability.

Embossing & Debossing

While embossing entails raising visual elements out of a substrate using custom die cuts, debossing involves lowering the design feature into the packaging material. You can couple this decorative effect with foil stamping or specialty coatings for added luxurious detail. 


What You Can Print on Custom Boxes & Folding Cartons

The printing possibilities with custom boxes are endless. (Well, almost.) Let’s take a look at some of the ways brands have implemented decorative printing effects on custom boxes.

Aiming for a sleek and clean design, under-eye beauty treatment Tint and Tighten created book-style custom boxes utilizing two spot colors and black and embossing, coated with UV gloss and specialty coatings.

Focused on eye-grabbing visuals, Pulp Riot Hair Color integrated gloss UV coating and reticulated varnish into the folding carton design to reflect the way its products help consumers glow when walking around town. 

Leaning into the variety of colorful options possible when printing with custom boxes, Tula Skincare employs soft touch coating with rainbow foil stamping and UV gloss. 

For their home fragrances series, NEST rolled out diffuser boxes highlighted by bright colors, soft touch coating, and a smart combination of embossing and debossing. 

Demonstrating simple beauty, elaluz showcases its beauty oils in a folding carton with a warm, white flood coat of ink, accented by an embossed logo with resplendent silver foil stamping and custom ink. 

Sell Your Product & Build Your Brand

As you can see, there are a covey of design choices you can make when composing custom boxes for your beloved products. 

Ultimately, your goals are to sell your product, build your brand, and create packaging that reflects your company’s most deeply held values. Whether the design is complex and sophisticated or straightforward and minimalist, a custom box can be an effective canvas for your brand. 


Oliver is a printing and packaging partner that blends more than 250 years of combined experience to ensure your products are protected and foster brand loyalty. Contact us today to learn more about custom boxes and their wide range of printing capabilities. 

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