The craft beer industry is a highly competitive industry with fickle consumers continuously striving to find new, creative beer flavors and leaving their favorite beer of the moment for another. Customer retention is hard for brands, and many independent brewers have limited marketing budgets. So, many beermakers look to packaging, scarcity marketing and event messaging to retain consumers.

One such company is Big Top Brewing Company, a craft brewer with multiple locations in the state of Florida, and a beermaker that recently collaborated with Burlington, N.C.-based converter Label, Tags and Inserts (LTI) and Fathom Optics Inc., to produce a pressure-sensitive label that creates a shimmering, 3D effect for the entire wraparound label.

“We have a great town, great history and wanted to compliment Sarasota’s historical associations with The Ringling Circus, performing arts, architecture, and our art and design schools,” says Nikki Golds, marketing director at Big Top Brewery.

In this festive and artistic spirit, Big Top reached out to LTI and asked about unique ways for its new American pale ale product to stand out in grocery aisles and retail outlets. LTI responded by recommending Fathom Effects and its unique, moiré-like visual styling that relies on inks and overprinting to create motion-like action for labels and other graphic renderings.


Chaotic motion effect
If the moiré-like effect is too small on a label, the motion-effect could look chaotic and may be hard to see if it is too big.
Courtesy of Fathom Optics


“We are always searching and reviewing the newest trends and capabilities in the flexo printing industry to keep us a leader in innovation,” says Rhonda Baker, president of LTI. “We print many shrink sleeves for Big Top, and when we showed them what Fathom could do, they were excited to use this new technology.”

Fathom’s software uses light-field technology to bring 3D and motion graphics to printing and packaging without requiring special inks, substrates or additional materials such as lenticular sheets or metallic foils.

LTI’s production designer began the process by uploading the Okobee Pale Ale label art to Fathom Designer, which allowed the team to begin testing with a whole range of various effects. Once Big Top approved the motion-like label design, LTI integrated Fathom’s platform — LTI’s first application of Fathom’s technology — and prepared calibration patterns specifically designed to optimize shrink sleeve and pressure-sensitive label formats.

By plating Fathom’s calibration files and running them on a flexo press, LTI was able to provide Fathom with the data to originate its Fathom effect patterns at 480 LPI. Then, plate the effects in-house at LTI on its existing system and run them stably in production.

Bonset America Corp. supplies the 50 micron, clear PETG 8A, shrink-sleeve film label that is flexo printed and requires front and back printing. A challenge with this project, which was quickly overcome, “was adjusting the artwork on two sides in order to keep printed material out of the seamed area,” according to LTI.  The entire label process and Fathom’s contribution to the project took two to three days for flexo fingerprinting — to determine the printability of text, lines and quantifying dot gain values — and then another two days for print production.

Creating The Effect

Fathom’s platform is quite flexible and can be modified to suit many different sizes for the artwork, but there is an ideal size. In the case of the Okobee design, the artwork was a full-fluid effect with the exception of the center figure. If the moiré-like effect is too small, the process could look chaotic while being the central figure in the label may be hard to see if too big.

When using Fathom’s technology, slight adjustments to the background colors were needed. Case in point, all the background colors on the label needed to be brighter to compensate for Big Top’s label, and three possible overprint variations were recommended to the original design to LTI.

Ultimately, Big Top selected a lighter red for the bottom flame, to contrast with the cool dark blues that surround it.

“It’s wonderful to see folks using Fathom to build their businesses, by delivering never-before-seen visual experiences to brands with the equipment they already own,” says Tom Baran, CEO and cofounder of Fathom Optics. “LTI is a true innovator, bringing lenticular and moiré-style effects to shrink sleeves in a way that is brand-new to the market.”

This new label design and stunning label is consistent with Big Top’s past illustrative-style label artwork that adorns all of its flagship and seasonal packaging. And, more importantly, Big Top’s quest for innovation in all areas of its business is helping the company stay ahead of the competition and drive brand awareness.