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5 Things You Need to Know Before Ordering Custom Printed Bags

by Theresa Christine Johnson on 10/25/2017 | 4 Minute Read

By: Brown & Pratt

Promotional products are good for your business. Consider this: the likelihood of a person doing business with an advertiser shifts from 55 percent to 85 percent once they have received a promotional product.

“Bags generate more impressions in the U.S. than any other promotional item.” (5,700+)
- Advertising Specialty Institute, 2016 Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study: a cost analysis of promotional products versus other advertising media.


Value Quality Over Price

When it comes to custom printed bags, it pays to understand the production process and ordering details. Making decisions based on price alone can result in an inferior product that costs more in the long run.

What do you need to know to get the best quality product?  Here are five points to keep in mind:

1. What is the bag’s purpose / What type of bag do you want?

Bags are designed to carry something, but functionality varies widely according to the intended specific use, for example:

  • Retail/shopping—usually roomy, helpful and easier to carry when they have handles

  • Mailer bag—something for streamlined shipping

  • Layflat—this encases items like phamphlets, generally without a handle

  • Industrial—various sizes and configurations used that are in manufacturing to contain products

  • Snap Handle—strong, reliable handles that are often used in trade shows and retail

  • Drawstring—these have a sporty appearance and offer multifaceted uses

  • T-Shirt—sturdy handles and smaller size

  • Non-woven Polypropylene/Reusable—a popular choice that is often a rewards tactic in retail

2. Quantity of bags

Quantity/volume determines whether the bags will be:

  • Post-printed—hand fed through the press

  • Inline production—mass printed for high volume of bags  

Small quantities can be printed with shorter lead times using a post-printing process, but the per-bag price of printing is higher. Inline printing usually requires a minimum of 5,000-20,000 bags and it may take three hours to set up. Inline is high volume, high quality, and less expensive to execute.


3. How many ink colors are needed?

Both quantity and the number of ink colors required affect the printing method (and cost of the overall print job).

  • 1 or 2 colors spaced ½” apart can be post-printed, typically less than 2,500 bags   

  • Multiple colors, up to 10, are possible using an inline printing method.

4. The weight of the item(s) going into the bag

The bag you choose needs to be sturdy enough to accommodate the item that goes inside and puncture resistant to keep it encased. So make sure to have a weight range specified for the type of bag you are choosing. This will affect bag thickness.

Most bags range from .0005 mil - .008 mil, but use the following as a general guideline for bag thickness:

  • Economical packaging and lightweight products: 1 to 1.25 mil bags

  • Storing, shipping, or displaying everyday items: 1.5 to 2 mil bags

  • Protecting and supporting heavy or abrasive items: 3 to 4 mil bags

  • Total protection for heavy items: 6 mil bags


5. Allow 4-5 weeks of lead time after artwork approval

Bags aren’t laser printed. They are flexographically printed, which means that a rubber-mounted printing plate is created with your design parameters, and the design is stamped on the bags. Ink drying, too, involves a process that uses UV lights. The process is more labor intensive than many people realize, so scheduling ahead and allowing plenty of time is recommended.  

The biggest surprise for first timers: a one-time printing press fee. Because custom printed bags are created using a unique stamp, there is typically a fee to create the printing plate. This plate typically stands up to printing of 400,000-500,000 poly bags or five to eight years of use, if the plates are cleaned and stored effectively.

Our best advice is to take the time to choose the best printing partner. Hopefully this becomes a trusted partnership. You want to work with a printing company that can advise what should or shouldn’t be printed on a bag, according to brand, space and dimension requirements. For example, is it advantageous to feature the logo along with your company’s:

  • Website address

  • Phone number

  • Social media platforms (and if so, which ones?)

Take your time. Seek referrals and schedule meetings to discuss your brand and marketing needs before a deadline looms. This way you set yourself up for a smooth production experience.

Brown & Pratt
Brown & Pratt has specialized in the Packaging & Shipping Supply industries for over 60 years! We are a family-owned and operated business that remains focused on supplying quality products with competitive prices while maintaining an elite level of customer service. Our customer's satisfaction is our #1 goal! From Custom Printed Retail Bags to Packing Tape and Bubble Wrap, we are your source for all of your packaging needs. For information contact

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