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Recently, I decided to add a branded touch to my shipping boxes. I've had an overwhelming response to my transfer tape and have been sending out lots of boxes. These boxes were looking a little plain so I decided to screen print on them!
Screen printing on cardboard boxes is a great way to add your logo or “happy mail” quickly and easily.
If you are new to screen printing with vinyl, beginners should start here. I even have a step-by-step guide to screen printing for beginners. Once you have mastered screen printing on fabric, there are so many other things you can screen print on.
Supplies Used for Screen Printing on Boxes
- Screen Printing Hinge Frame
- Graphic Squeegee
- Acrylic Screen Printing Ink (I used peacock blue)
- Oracal 651 Vinyl (or read below about using HTV to make a reusable screen)
- Cricut Maker
- Cricut Mat
- My Favorite Transfer Tape
- Painter’s Tape
Tips for Screen Printing on Boxes
Screen printing on boxes (or any paper type surface) is a little different than screen printing on t-shirts. With fabric, the ink absorbs into the fibers so you need to squeegee a good amount of ink through to cover your entire design.
With a cardboard surface, the ink will stay on top rather than soaking in. This means you don't want to push too much ink through. Excess ink will lead to bleeding under your vinyl design.
In order to get a nice crisp print, one thin coat should be enough.
Flooding the Screen
I like to flood my screen for this type of printing. This means squeegeeing a coat of ink over the design BEFORE it is touching the box. Then, with a firm pressure, squeegee the ink over the design again with the screen on the box.
Choosing the Right Squeegee
Another trick when printing on cardboard boxes or paper, is to use a Graphic Squeegee rather than a fabric squeegee. This type of squeegee has a firmer rubber piece that helps you get a nice, thin coat of ink. I started this project using my fabric squeegee but it was allowing too much ink through the screen and caused some bleeding. I switched to the Graphic Squeegee and it was so much easier!
Watch How I Screen Print on 200 Boxes
Using HTV to make a Reusable Screen
After reprinting these same boxes a few times, I decided to use HTV to make a permanent screen. This allows me to wash the screen off and keep the design in place. It is very convenient to be able to grab the screen with my design already in place when I need to print more boxes.
If you are using this process to brand your packaging, I highly recommend dedicating one screen to your logo or design. Follow these steps to make a permanent screen printing frame using HTV.
UPDATE: I have been using the same screen with my HTV designs for well over a year! It allows me to print my boxes on demand so I don't need to carry a large stash of boxes! I have washed the screen and reused the exact same one to print hundreds of boxes!
This is awesome! Thank you for the tips. Just wondering where you bought the boxes from, I’m having a hard time finding boxes at a decent price.
When I need a bunch, I order from Uline.
Hi! I am wondering if you know any other cheaper ink that can be used for boxes? Thank you
I’ve been trying to do this for my boxes. The first one was ok but the ink missed some spots. Then I haven’t been able to get it right. I’m practicing in pieces of cardboard. Mostly the issue is that the print is very uneven, missing spots. Do the ridges on the cardboard disturb the ink? Should I swipe parallel with the ridges, or does it make a difference? It looks so easy seeing the video. I’m using the squeegee (graphic side) and ink (for fabric) that came with the kit. Should I use something different?
Thanks for any help you can give.
Hi! You might want to look at upgrading to this squeegee: https://amzn.to/2Ab8nov. It will help give you a little more pressure to get that even coverage. The ridges in the cardboard can cause some uneven ink coverage. I like to squeegee the same direction as the ridges. You might also look at different box brands to find one that doesn’t have as much texture. The ones I used in this post are pretty smooth.
Do you use a higher number mesh for paper or cardboard?
No, I stick with the 110 mesh that the Speedball frames come with.