FP: How can ink maximize a bag or pouch? What new solutions or technologies are being introduced to this sector of the industry?
Schultz: The importance of creating packaging that is tempting to the eye, resonating with shoppers’ senses and causing them to choose a product over the hundreds of others on the shelf clearly exists.
From the decorating standpoint of bags or pouches, metallic inks have always been a desired effect, utilized as a differentiator on the shelf. For many years, premium reflective inks have been utilized in the label market as an alternative to foil stamping in designs with less than twenty-percent metallic coverage. Mainly due to cost, these inks were off limits to the flexible packaging sector, which typically would resort to metalized films for metallic effect.
Today, there are many more options due to advancements in metallic pigment technology, now opening doors to new opportunities. The printer now has a choice when it comes to creating that premium metallic look, making metallic inks the clear choice, especially in designs where the metallic is merely used for decoration.
As an efficient alternative to de-metallization and through the use of in-line printing equipment, the environmental impact is less; reduced consumption of water and energy, less waste, and much lower disposal costs. Printing only requires one single-pass, and eliminates additional processing which accelerates the speed-to-market.
FP: Any general pointers on how a company can create the highest quality package using limited amounts of inks?
Schultz: The new mirror-effect ink technologies available today are applied only in the areas where metallic effect is desired. This is a huge benefit for stand-up pouch designs where a clear window is required to see the package contents. Whether it’s being printed gravure or flexo, packaging today needs to be attractive to the consumer’s eye.
Some say that metallic inks symbolize luxury and elegance, which often inspire the buying decision. By printing with metallic inks, the printer is able to create multiple effects in a single pass in combination with transparent colors.
FP: What's missing from this sector (flexible packaging inks), or the flexible packaging industry as a whole? What would you like to see improve?
Schultz: One thing missing in this sector is a range of decorative options. Currently, there is either high-end decoration (metalized substrates) or low-end (877 silver with minimal metallic effect). There is, however, demand for a range of more unique decorating options, depending on the desired effect. As a result of today’s advancements in metallic pigment technology, a variety of new effects are possible. The key will be educating the market that metalized substrate is not the only choice for decorating your package.
Cost is also a significant driver in deciding which technologies are used in package decoration. For many years the industry standard, metalized substrates, were the only choice a printer had in metallic effect. Now it is safe to say that metallic inks are also one of the choices that can maintain brand equity while offering cost savings. This change in approach for the printers is currently happening. Those that are proactively leading the way in broadening their options will succeed in bringing value to the market.
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