Paper Bag Printing

We are wondering about printing on paper bags. The ones we are asked to print have the string handles. I have never tried this and think it will work but I am wondering if any of you done it and are looking for feedback.

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Paper bags have folds and seams, so you are printing on multiple layers of paper. To compensate, I use a sheet of rubber on top of a tympan sheet. Not an offset blanket - their cloth backing make them too firm.

Increase packing gradually until you get a good image. Too much pressure will result in torn edges in the image area of the bag.

And use a die or a polymer plate. This is not good for metal type.

To compensate for the seams you allow for the different heights in your make ready. You take a print on your make ready sheet, mark where the seams are and what thickness they are and then build up the thin areas so when the bag is printed every part of the surface (bag + underlay) is even. You use the same method on similar items such as envelopes.

As Sharecropper Press suggests use a plate not your type.

I print string handled bags on a treadle platen and ensure the plate is not too close to the string as you sometimes get variation in position.

If you intend to print simple glued paper bags you have to separate the bags individually as the bags may have stuck together from gluing, from cutting the top edge or if supplied on a string from the hole punch.

Thanks for the feed back. We will see how this works out. I like the rubber blanket Idea. I have a lot of old press blankets I can strip the backing of off and give it a try

If you’re printing on quality bags the method platenprinter described is the proper way to setup. I failed to mention that I print on lunch bags. The image area has 4 layers on the sides, 3 layers at the center seam and 2 layers in between. And the folds and seam moves around so the proper way won’t work.

My experience with removing the backing from rubber blankets is the rubber is too thin. I buy red butyl rubber at the hardware store.

Good luck.

We are printing retail paper sacks. I have packed out printing press blankets to print envelopes for many years so all the ideas make great sense and help us to solve what we thought was going to be the issues.

It’s been years ago, but we used a rubber plate to print on some bags. Little or no makeready, and the bags came out great. I have no idea what type of rubber, or where we got it. Handfed on a C&P.

Only one worry, the reputational damage. In my working days in central London, if one wanted to belittle another printer, one used to say they were a printer of winkle bags.
Winkles, you know the small marine mollusc people used to eat - with a pin. Bought in very small paper bags, dreadfully printed. ”A winkle bag shop.”