Brand owners, their marketing departments and designers devote much time and effort through the creative use of packaging, labeling and other P.O.S material to ensure that the brand image projected is both positive and reassuring. Packaging must look good,’ it’s a silent sales person’, it encapsulates the essence of the brand, aids the consumer in the decision-making process and encourages repeat sales using visual cues such as consistent brand colors and readily identifiable graphics and logos.

Indeed, the first thing many people remember about a brand may well be the color of the pack, which if used effectively becomes indelibly associated with the product, for instance the red of Coca Cola or the black of Nestle’s Black Magic. A block color or limited and carefully selected use of color can make a product far easier to recognize when the packaged item is one of many others vying for attention on the retail shelf in a busy retail environment. Sometimes the most effective design for a pack, one that makes the most impression is the simplest: one that involves only a single color or a limited use of color. Multiple colors and complex graphics can if not well executed be distracting; sometimes they can be costly and difficult to reproduce. For these reasons many marketers are looking to declutter the design and opt for a more minimalistic approach to packaging design.

Consumers often shop across multiple retail channels so care needs to be taken to ensure that the stripped back minimalistic look doesn’t look too clinical or that the brand’s personality is compromised. That said, on-line shopping favors the minimalistic look as an attention grabber and when the next product to look at is only a scroll away. Well-known brands such as Apple and Microsoft use defined color and instantly identifiable logos to great effect across all available shopping channels. Other branded names where the color stands out on the pack in the supermarket recognition zone include Nivea, Unilever’s PG Tips and Terry’s All Gold product range. Ownable color on the face of the pack draws attention to the logo and product. Other on pack elements such as text are reduced or are placed on side panel of a pack or on the reverse.

Consumers often bemoan the fact that they are bombarded with information on a daily basis. Minimalistic package addresses this problem, it provides a cleaner and a more modern look.

Creating Color Consistency

Consistency of color, product quality and output or to put it more succinctly presentation is critical. When it comes to shelf appeal UV flexo is worth considering.UV inks/coatings offer so much. They can save time, provide added product protection, and they can deliver ‘more bangs for the buck’. When using uncoated stock for instance and when text and graphics need to look crisp, UV inks are often up for consideration; curing in seconds, the inks don’t have time to dive into the stock.

Have a need to control the amount of abrasion and smudging? Again, UV may be the answer. Since UV inks flash dry, they remain vibrant and pristine, and more resistant to damage that may arise as a result of handling, stacking and shipment – unlike conventional inks which may remain soft after printing.

The ability to turn out a finished product, a roll of labels inline and when cured to rewind without risk of blocking is advantageous, especially when short runs are involved and when just-in-time orders need to be fulfilled.

The low VOC content and the fact that the inks stay open on the press are also notable benefits, though some users do struggle with consistency from press to press. An understanding and an appreciation of the release characteristics of the ink in relation to the anilox roll is necessary. For instance, a printer may obtain good results using a 60-degree hexagonal designed anilox with water-based inks but UV inks are by nature thicker and there is a tendency for turbulence to occur at the ink transfer point.

Rather than bridging from one cell to another, the fluidity of the ink can generate a tidal wave effect so that when the doctor blade meters the ink, a flow of ink spills over, which can lead to doctor blade chatter and then the phenomenon of ink spitting and the occurrence of blemishes on the printed surface of the product. Hence the need to experiment and to make certain that the anilox meets the requirement.

UV Flexo Comparison

UV flexo compares favorably with screen when high impact color is required, which is generally the case when printing minimalistic labels or on pack designs for specific product categories such as luxury items.

Obtaining color consistency when printing a minimalistic or stripped back design should be easier for the printer than one that involves complex graphics and multiple colors, and in many respects this is so .However, color variation, blemishes and other color mismatch issues can become more noticeable when the viewer is presented with a solid block or a large area of color. UV flexo presents some challenges when it comes to detecting blemishes when providing presentation samples or proofing.

Obtaining proofs using conventional conveyor system methods can sometimes be disappointing in that blemishes such as pinholes are not highlighted. The reason for this is that during the time taken to generate a proof and then take it to a typical UV conveyor, chemical reactions will have taken place that cause the surface properties to alter, masking blemishes that may ultimately result in customer refusal at point of delivery.

The FlexiProof UV and a companion color communication or proofing device, the FlexiProof LED UV, both of which incorporate an integral, miniaturized UV curing system are able to print and cure inline and seamlessly have been designed and developed by RK Print Coat Instruments. In essence the FlexiProof is a scaled down but component critical exact version of a flexographic press making them suitable for users and producers of UV flexo inks. These devices highlight the pinholes and other blemishes that have been difficult to detect. They can be used for color matching and for trialling purposes and for R & D.

Printability issues such as gloss, durability, flexibility chemical resistance and rub resistance can be determined. Color matching and other aspects of quality: for instance, assessing how ink and substrate interact over time can be undertaken.

Over time scientists and technologists have obtained a better understanding of light manipulation and heat management. In the last few years this has made it possible to design and develop LED UV curing technology for use with and on heat sensitive substrates in the prepress environment. The LED UV lamps employed with the FlexiProof LED UV offer a tailored output either at 385 or 395 nm wavelength.