Going Holographic With Flexible Packaging

Monday, September 18th, 2017

In a highly competitive consumer space, brand owners have to constantly find new ways to differentiate themselves. What used to be seen as an expensive option, holography can now be the deciding factor in making the next killer flexible packaging. By Albert Chicote, Comexi’s laminating business unit director

It cannot be denied that nowadays all brand owners and converters are looking to achieve this final goal: to differentiate themselves and their products from competitors.

There are lots of different ways for us to achieve this purpose: price, service, technology, product availability and branding, and all of them are valid. It means that companies should continuously make improvements to sustain or achieve a leadership position.

Obviously, with globalisation and the huge amount of converters that are able to print with the highest quality in flexible packaging available, regardless of the way they carry it out and taking the service as granted, brand owners are looking for something different and unique in order to boost sales on their brand products and gain more market share.

People only dedicate three seconds to choose a product on the shelf. This is pure statistics. In fact, people spend more time looking at their smartphone than looking at your products.

So what would you do to become ‘the chosen one’? In other words, what should your packaging be like in order to stand out amongst the eyes of stringent customers?

Just think about something that you could do to differentiate. After metalised films, gloss or matt lacquers, which became almost a commodity, what else could be brought onto flexible packaging to attract customer’s attention?

Holography—A Major Ally

This is where holography enters the action in the flexible packaging market with all the benefits it can offer. Traditionally, holography has been a niche market as the finishing in offset printing for narrow web, together with other technologies such as cold-foil or embossing.

Holography has been barely seen because of its high cost and the lack of machinery that is able to produce it. Holography is able to provide any type of package endless, unbeatable and eye-catching properties, making the product standout to consumers, and flexible packaging is not an exception.

If we just imagine any well-known company logo with a certain holography pattern on top, whichever it desires, most probably any marketing department, it would be just amazing to explore further on.

Effectively, multidimensional effects, shiny effects or coloured 2D holograms will serve unlimited design possibilities for brand owners and converters.

Anti-Counterfeiting Solution

Additionally, but not less important, holography acts as a barrier for the anti-counterfeiting. Did you know that flexible packaging claims to have no less than seven percent of the products counterfeited?

Nowadays, most companies complain about the large amount of fake products packed in a very similar package provided on the market. Believe it or not, heavy duty sacks containing cement can be a victim of fraud if the content is expensive enough to make it worth being counterfeited.

And there are many others to follow, from the well-known pharma packages to the flexible packaging used for food in general. It is worthless to spend a fortune when creating a new brand, with all the promotion and marketing involved, as this new brand can easily be counterfeited.

Applying holographic effects onto a package implies undoubtedly many more difficulties to be copied. Therefore, companies can rely on this technology in helping secure their profits.

Added Value Through Sustainable Holographic Packaging

And how is this holographic effect being produced? What is this technology based on and how can customers utilise it?

The holography process is performed by laminating a holographic film to a printed (front or reverse) web where a UV varnish has been previously applied.

This coating can be applied at full coverage, randomly or at register onto a specific printed area. While these two surfaces are in contact, UV light is passed through the film in order to cure the varnish, so this one will be instantly casted with the surface relief of the holographic film.

After that, both films are delaminated, and the Holographic film will be rewound for future usages. No material is transferred from the film onto the substrate, like cold-foil does: therefore varnish is not transferred onto the film.

This allows for multiple uses regarding the holographic film. The effect can be applied onto a large variety of substrates, from monolayer LDPE (diapers, detergents) to laminate PET (wet wipes, stand-up pouches), from BOPP (food packaging) to paper (shopping bags).

During this process, no VOCs are emitted into the atmosphere. This is important as this process does not add any additional exhaustion by the converter. By using ultraviolet lacquers we avoid any emission of undesirable and harmful VOCs.

An additional benefit is that when applying at full coverage, as well as having a shiny holographic design on top, it can also be used as a substitution of a laminated film.

Spotted or random application scenario normally results in a huge contrast among the design, making it very attractive. Besides the main benefits mentioned, converters wisely take a look on the downsides, so costs are for sure a concern also.

The fact that the holographic reel can be reused (as it does not work as a transfer film but just as a cast film) makes the process sustainable from the cost point of view, achieving to be just a faction of traditional costs in comparison to the traditional lamination process were carried out.