5 Elements for a Perfect Print on Your Custom Tape

When you order custom packing tape, which terms best describe how you expect the print to look:
Fuzzy, pixelated, and dull?
Or, crisp, clean, and vivid?

The latter, of course. No one wants their custom printed tape to be a dud! Poor print quality can reflect unfavorably on your brand – and your budget.

Custom Printed Tape

In this article, we’ll cover what you need to know for achieving a perfect print every time you order custom tape. The secret to a standout look depends on the following five elements:

  1. Artwork
  2. Printing press components
  3. Inks
  4. Tape
  5. Operator and company experience

Read on to learn more about these factors for producing a high-quality print on custom shipping tape.

Artwork

A sharp-looking custom printed tape starts with quality artwork. In fact, we have a saying in our business: The better the art, the better the print. That’s because the artwork is one of the most critical aspects for achieving a crisp and clean image on any tape.

So, what is the best art?

Adobe Illustrator files produce the best results because they can be scaled up or down without losing print quality. These art files are in what’s called vector format. This file format separates the design into layers, so we can easily separate multiple colors to prevent overlapping and distortion. Printing each color separately on the tape allows each one to remain vivid and true, resulting in a crisp print that you can be proud of.  Similar results can be achieved with other types of artwork (such as pdf or jpeg files) but they need to be 300 dpi (dots per inch) or higher resolution.

Check out our blog article to learn more about what art files work best for custom printed tape orders.

If you’re not sure whether your art files will produce a high-quality print, contact us. With experienced art and production teams in-house, we’ll review your art files and proof carefully to eliminate any possible printing issues before we get to press.

Important Flexographic printing press components

All of our custom packing tape orders are printed on flexographic printing presses using photopolymer plates.  These plates are mounted on print cylinders that are then fixed into place in the printing press.  During the printing process the ink is transferred via Anilox rollers that deliver ink directly to the printing surface.

Plates used in printing

These two printing press components play a critical role in producing a perfect print on custom tape:

  1. Plate material

    Photopolymer plate substrate is a printing press plate material best suited for most custom shipping tapes, including polypropylene and paper. This stiff material maintains its rigidity throughout a print job, helping to produce consistent, crisp, detailed printing from start to finish, no matter how many cases.

  2. Rollers

    Anilox rollers are parts of a printing press that pick up and carry ink to the plate to be transferred to the custom tape. Because the roller’s ink wells can hold different ink concentrations depending on the print, it requires a high level of expertise to ensure the best print quality possible. Seasoned printers must match the rollers with the plates while determining the ideal concentration.

Combining high-performance printing presses with advanced expertise helps produce a crisp and clean print on custom shipping tape.

Inks

Another essential element for achieving a perfect print on custom tape is the quality of the inks. Because ink doesn’t absorb into tape as it does on paper, custom printed tape inks must meet the highest industry standards to ensure it sufficiently anchors, or marries, itself to the tape’s surface. Inks that successfully rest on top of the tape will produce a crisper, cleaner, and more vivid print that stays in place.

We source our inks only from premier sources, each with decades of testing and development experience to ensure the highest quality inks. While we offer 11 standard colors we also have the capability to print any custom PMS color.  Browse our custom printed tape products to explore the many ink colors we offer.

Tape

Tape quality also affects the print, making the difference between a design that wows and one that disappoints. When it comes to finding the best quality tape, consider factors such as adhesive concentration, grade (thickness), and raw materials, as we discussed in-depth in a recent blog post on how to determine whether your custom printed packing tape is up to par.

Operator and company experience

Custom printed tape is a highly specialized industry. While there are some similarities to other printing methods, custom printed tape is a niche industry with many unique facets that require in-depth training, years of experience, and a dedication to excellence. As such, printing operator and company experience can also contribute to the print quality of your custom tape.

Having been in the business for 35 years, we have the skills and knowledge to ensure your custom printed tape meets – and exceeds – your quality expectations, from the proof to the finished product. In addition, many of our managers and printers have over ten years of experience on our production floor, continuously improving and mastering their craft. Everyone has a role in ensuring your print is worthy enough to represent your brand, from our printers, shift managers, production manager, art department, and sales team. As an industry leader in quality custom printed tape, we combine our vast experience with the best raw materials and flexographic printing press components to produce stunning results that enhance your brand image and budget. Reach out to get your order started.

3 Ways to Determine the Quality of Custom Printed Packing Tape

At its core, custom packing tape must accomplish two goals, and the first is purely functional. Whether it’s custom printed or not, packing tape needs to securely fasten your package so that its contents remain intact throughout its shipping journey. The second goal of custom packing tape is all about branding. Whether you want to build brand awareness or promote customer loyalty, customized packing tape is a marketing tool known to pay dividends for large and small businesses alike.

Successfully achieving these goals comes down to one central factor: the quality of your packing tape. Tape that isn’t up to snuff can compromise the integrity of your package – and your brand. And, the results could get costly, from damaged and lost goods to poor first impressions.

Failed packing tape
Box that didn’t pass inspection process in factory warehouse

So, how can you ensure that your custom packing tape will live up to your expectations? Consider these three quality factors:

  1. Adhesive concentration
  2. Grade
  3. Raw materials

Continue reading to learn more about determining the quality of your custom packing tape.

Adhesive concentration

The first way to tell if your custom packing tape is up to par is to check the adhesive concentration, which describes the amount of adhesive per square inch. In general, look for a high concentration – the higher, the better. A heavily concentrated tape will have more “grab” and strength to keep your package safely sealed.

Grade

Grade refers to a tape’s thickness. Low-grade, thin products are not durable enough to withstand the printing process, so look for more robust options to produce a high-quality print worthy of your brand. Higher grades are also better equipped to keep packages sealed, especially on heavier loads. Our tapes come in several grades, starting at the middle of the road, and working up.

Thick Tape

The following overview highlights three of our top sellers to give you an idea of what to expect from each grade of tape.

Polypropylene

Polypropylene custom printed tape is the most common custom printed tape, easily recognizable by the crackling sound it makes when pulled off the roll. This tried-and-true product is suited exclusively for corrugated cardboard and is available in three grades:

  • 1.9 mil: While considered middle range within the tape industry, 1.9 mil is our beginning base grade. We wouldn’t even consider printing on a lower thickness.

  • 2.5 mil: This tape grade offers a higher concentration of adhesive and a thicker base of tape.

  • 2.9 mil: Our highest polypropylene tape grade offers the same concentration of adhesive as 2.5 mil but on an even thicker base.

PVC

Not many printers offer PVC tape, but we include it in our offerings to ensure we have a wide range of quality tape products. One of the advantages of PVC custom printed tape is that you can apply it to a broader range of materials than polypropylene. PVC also comes with a natural rubber adhesive and excellent strength characteristics. It is available in two grades:

  • 2.2 mil – At a middle range of 2.2 mil, PVC is already a high-quality product.

  • 3.2 mil – At 3.2 mil, PVC becomes even higher quality with increased adhesive concentration and a thicker base.

Paper

Our custom printed paper tape is sourced exclusively in the USA. It differs from polypropylene and PVC because it features fiberglass threads that provide tensile strength. As the tape grade increases, the more threads and a higher concentration of threads per inch.

  • 240 grade – While 240 is our base grade, it is the middle range within the industry.  We would not consider printing on a lower grade.

  • 260 grade – The 260 grade features a slightly higher paper weight for heavier duty applications.

If you’re not sure which grade to choose, reach out to a custom packing tape expert or refer to the package weight guidelines on our product pages.  

Raw materials

Finally, consider the source and caliber of the raw materials when determining the quality of your custom printed packing tape.  If the raw materials are second-rate, the performance and print quality will suffer. The best way to achieve superior quality results is to choose a distributor with access to reputable suppliers. We work with established, experienced, and knowledgeable tape suppliers in North America and Europe that source the highest quality raw materials they can procure. Our insistence on obtaining high-quality products helps us create an excellent print for your brand.

High-quality custom printed packing tape can contribute to a well-secured package and favorable brand image, but that doesn’t mean that you need to break your budget to reap these benefits. Since 1985, we’ve aimed balance affordability and effectiveness, providing budget-friendly branded packaging solutions that give you a competitive edge. Contact us to learn more about affordable high-quality custom printed packing tape designed to make you shine.

Phoenix Tape and Supply – Custom Printed Tape