Learn Corrugate

Plates vs Dies

Written by Mark Speyers Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Plates vs. Dies: Understanding the Difference and What You Need to Know

Understanding the differences between printing “plates” and cutting “dies” and the tools used to create your packaging will give you an idea of how the entire process works. Proper tooling is vital to the creation of the perfect product for you. With precise edges and crisp printing, plates and dies are some of the most important tools to custom packaging. Let’s take a look at them and see what the differences are and what they’re all about.

Printing Plates

Flexographic printing is much like rubber stamps, print plates are thin and typically made with a rubber-like material. Lithographic printing is made of a thin plastic or metal. They are used to print line art and text directly onto your custom box. Digital printing does not use print plates at all.
The print plates are mounted to cylinders on a printing press and it runs through the ink and directly onto your box. Each colour requires a separate set of plates. As your design is cut from the plate, the negative parts of your design do not collect ink and does not show up on the box. The best way to describe this is, if you were to take a stamp, dip it in ink and place it on a piece of paper, this is the same result that printing plates create.

Cutting Dies

Each custom box has a unique design that goes beyond the artwork. Specific dimensions, handles or no handles, anything that you want to make your packaging uniquely your own, will require a cutting die. A cutting die is a tool made from heavy plywood and a steel rule, which is placed into the plywood in the shape of your box. Like the print plate, this gets mounted on a giant cylinder and as the corrugated sheet is passed through our machines, edges are cut, and creases are creased, and your box takes form.

Posted in Learn Corrugate

Mullen vs ECT Test

Written by Mark Speyers Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What is the difference between the Mullen Test and the Edge Crush Test (ECT)? You may have come across these terms in the corrugate industry, because they are a valuable testing standard. The Mullen Test has been around for a century and evaluates how much force a flat piece of corrugate can withstand. Such a test is good to determine if individual boxes can withstand the forces of handling without bursting. However, in the last 20 years or so, the supply chain saw more stacked packages on pallets, which led to the Edge Crust Test. Today, the ECT is the standard in Ontario for testing the stacking strength of a box, with 32 ECT being the most common.

So which test rating do you need? It depends on your supply chain, but for most packages, the ECT will be a helpful indicator of box strength in transit on a pallet, whereas the Mullen Test will be more applicable to individually shipped boxes where puncture and tear resistance are your primary concern.

Posted in Learn Corrugate
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