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Pinpointing the Best Paper for Packaging

Three fundamentals will save you time and money.

With creative new paper being introduced each year, the desire to incorporate a unique paper stock into your next packaging project is a tantalizing temptation.

But before you invest in a particular paper, “there’s a lot of things that come into play,” says Sean Malloy, creative director at Columbus, Ohio-based Fetch Design Co. Understanding the complete life cycle of the package—from production to logistics to end use—can help you pinpoint the perfect paper and avoid costly mistakes:

Form and function
Paper is one of the first components Malloy looks at—“whether it is for the look we are going for; government regulations we need to meet; durability, folding/flexibility options; or color and surface options.”

Malloy notes food projects require either C1S or C2S (coated on one side or two sides) by law; however in a less regulated area such as cosmetics, questions come into play concerning how well a paper stock will cope with a wet environment.

Without a clear understanding of legal requirements and paper tolerances, you run the risk of sloppy, ineffective, or excess packaging that can dramatically affect your company’s bottom line.

Once the fundamentals are satisfied, the look and feel of the paper comes into play.

Malloy considers additional printing processes that will be used and how well those work with the paper stock he likes, whether the process is 4 color or spot color, aqueous coating, foil stamping, gravure printing, UV coating, spot varnishes, matte inks, or even letterpress.

Advances in digital presses are making more options available at lower costs.

Finding resources
“Conversations with our paper vendors are so important because it all starts there,” says Malloy, who frequently consults Millcraft’s Terri Price-Deep.

Otherwise, to find the perfect paper for each job, Malloy and his team rely on samples of printed packages and stock, comparative shopping, reviewing award-winning pieces on sites such as, as well as conversations with printers and box engineers.