A piece of packaging is simply utilitarian until it is decorated.
A cap retains the product in its receptacle, a container protects, a dispenser evacuates, etc. When decoration occurs, numerous things occur. Branding takes place, making the product unique and distinguishible from other products on the shelf. Marketing can also occur, with packaging conveying all sorts of messages based on the firm's needs at that particular moment.
In either case, decoration is used to communicate. It is the way in which a brand (the producer of the product) can speak directly with the consumer (the buyer and user of the product). The trust the consumer places in the brand is a direct result of the message or lifestyle proposition being offered by the packaging and how well the product lives up to the expectations generated by that communication.
Packaging decoration, then, is the fundamental, defining factor that takes a simple piece of packaging and makes it an active business tool, not just a passive logistic one.
Hot stamping or foil stamping is a dry printing method in which foils are impressed onto a surface at a high temperature. The high temperature is crucial to ensure no damage occurs to the original surface. This decoration technique can be produced using a variety of colours, most commonly gold or silver, and a variety of textures, such as a foil with a holographic effect.
A hologram is a two-dimensional image that appears three-dimensional to the naked eye. It can also create a rainbow-effect where different colours are visible depending on the angle from which the image is viewed. To produce this effect, the hologram must be recorded using a laser light which is shone from different directions to produce a microscopic interference pattern.
Silk screen printing
Silk screen printing is a process in which a mesh is placed over the desired surface with certain areas that have been made impermeable to create a design. Ink is then brushed across this mesh so that the design is transferred onto the surface in the correct areas. It is possible to produce multicoloured designs using several stencils.
There are technically two types of embossing. The first is raising a part of the surface of the packaging, and is done in the mould. The second is similar to silk screen printing except instead of printing ink onto the product surface, it is a layer of lacquer that is printed to create a design. This means that the printed area can take on a different texture, such as a glossy finish or soft touch, or can be slightly raised above the original surface to give a more 3D effect.
Pad Printing (Tampography)
Pad printing is a straightforward printing process that uses a stamp to print a design straight onto a surface, similar to a rubber stamp on a piece of paper. This method can be used on all different shapes of products, whether rounded, squared, hollow, spherical, or any other shape.
Frosting is a technique used to make transparent materials appear translucent or opaque. It involves making a series of small marks on the surface of the material to change its texture and appearance. This can especially be used on glass to give any packaging a premium quality.
Metallising involves coating a surface in metal to give the appearance of a solid metal component without the added weight. The thickness of the surface coating is carefully controlled to give a smooth and shiny finish, making any plastic product appear more luxurious.
A label is a piece of paper or plastic film affixed to a container or product, which contains written or printed information or symbols about the product or item. Packaging may have labelling attached to it or it may be integral with the package. These may carry pricing, barcodes, UPC identification, usage guidance, addresses, advertising, recipes, and so on. They also may be used to help prevent or indicate tampering or pilferage.
Sleeving is another form of labelling where the label encompasses the product and shrinks to the contours of its shape. Sleeves are scratch-resistant as they are printed on the inside and also provide more freedom of design, more so than printing or standard labelling. If desired, windows can be added to the design so that the surface beneath the sleeve is visible.
In-Mould Labelling is a highly advanced decoration process for plastics, in which the prefabricated plastic label is positioned directly into the mould by a special handling robot. The result is a decorated end product completed in a single process - with no need for a subsequent labelling or printing.
Surface structuring technology allows us to reproduce different textures on the surface of materials. By creating different sized and shaped markings on a surface, materials such as plastic can appear to have the texture of leather, wood or bamboo. The markings can also be a series of geometric shapes or an artistic design to provide a more eye-catching look.