Screen printing vs. labeling: Which is best for decorating product packaging?

When it comes to product packaging, aesthetics play a crucial role in catching consumers’ attention and conveying your brand’s identity. To improve your product’s visual appeal, you need to select a suitable decoration method for your packaging. Two of the most popular methods are screen printing and labeling.

What is screen printing?

Screen printing involves applying ink to the product packaging through a stencil and a mesh screen.              

To print a design, ink is spread over the mesh screen and a squeegee is used to press the ink onto the packaging material beneath the screen. A stencil acts as a barrier between the material to be printed on, preventing the ink from reaching unwanted areas and ensuring that a crisp and precise design is transferred onto the packaging. The design is then dried and cured via heat or ultraviolet light application. 

With this decoration method, you can apply multiple colors to product packaging and use a variety of packaging materials, such as paper, plastic, glass, and metal.

What is labeling?

Labeling involves printing a design onto a label, which is then applied to the product packaging. Labels can be made from different materials (e.g., paper, vinyl, or polyester) and can be printed using various techniques (e.g., digital printing and flexography.) Depending on the business’s needs, labels can be preprinted and then applied to the packaging, or these can be printed and applied on demand using a print and apply labeling machine

What are the advantages and disadvantages of screen printing?

Here are the pros and cons of screen printing for decorating product packaging.

Pros of screen printing

Screen printing can produce high-quality, vibrant, and visually appealing designs, helping products stand out on shelves. Screen-printed designs are also durable since the ink used bonds firmly with the packaging material, resulting in a long-lasting and resistant finish. This ensures that the packaging maintains its aesthetic appeal even during handling, transportation, and exposure to various environmental factors.

What’s more, screen printing is cost-effective for businesses requiring large quantities of decorated packaging. After the initial setup and stencil creation, the printing process can be done efficiently, leading to lower labor costs per packaging.

Cons of screen printing

One drawback of screen printing, especially for businesses with small production runs, is the time-consuming and costly process of preparing screens. 

In addition, due to the nature of the screen printing process, printing intricate or highly detailed designs with fine lines or small text can be more challenging compared to other printing methods. This may prevent businesses from achieving their desired look for the product packaging. 

Lastly, screen printing may not be ideal for product packaging that requires personalization or frequent design changes or variations. Once the screens are prepared, making changes to the design or incorporating different elements can be difficult and may require creating new screens, leading to additional costs.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of labeling?

Using labels to decorate product packaging has several pros and cons.

Pros of labeling

Unlike screen printing, labeling allows for precise and intricate designs, including detailed product information, ingredient lists, and warning messages that are typically required on health and beauty and pharmaceutical product packaging. 

Moreover, printing and applying labels are pretty straightforward processes and do not require a complex and costly setup. This allows businesses to easily change or update their packaging designs, which is perfect for those that often use their packaging to introduce new products, run limited-time promotions, or require seasonal variations. 

Label printing also allows businesses to print on demand, so they can print only the number of labels they need. They can then reduce their product storage requirements and minimize costs associated with overproduction and obsolete packaging materials.  

Cons of labeling

Over time, labels may peel off or detach from the product packaging since exposure to moisture, heat, or frequent handling can weaken their adhesive bond. This can negatively impact the product packaging’s appearance as well as the brand image.

Another drawback is that labels may not work well on certain packaging materials. For example, packaging with textured or uneven surfaces may not provide a smooth and flat area for the label to adhere to. 

Finally, if a business doesn’t have labeling machines, manually applying labels onto packaging can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, especially for large production runs. And if not properly applied, labels may look poorly made, which can make the packaging less appealing and affect consumer’s perception of the product.

Which decoration method should you use for your product packaging?

Before making a decision, you need to carefully consider various factors:

  • Design: Screen printing can create high-quality designs but its setup may be time-consuming and costly, especially for multicolor or highly detailed designs. Labels, on the other hand, allow for precise and intricate designs as well as the printing of important information about the product.
  • Durability and longevity: If you need your packaging decoration to last long, then screen printing may be ideal since it offers better durability than labels. But if you’re simply running seasonal promotions, then labeling will suffice.
  • Packaging shape, size, and material: Screen printing offers more versatility than labeling when it comes to compatibility with various packaging types. 
  • Production volume: If you have a large production volume, screen printing may be a more cost-effective option, as it allows for efficient printing of huge quantities. But if you have smaller production runs or require flexibility in design changes, labeling may be the better choice.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision regarding the best decoration method for your product packaging.

Whether you choose screen printing or labeling, Pro-Motion Industries has you covered. We can tailor your chosen decoration method to fit your specific requirements. With us at your side, you can enjoy hassle-free and cost-effective decorating solutions. Consult with our experts at 856-809-0040 to get started.

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