Inner values are not everything, the exterior is also important. This is certainly the case with a wide range of products that are generally contained within rigid plastic containers with secure seals or lids. The products, which include motor accessories such as oil and anti-freeze or items for use in or around the home or garden such as household bleach, weed killer and plant insect sprays – must be able to withstand not only the normal rigours of transportation, they must be able to withstand harsh environments as they are often stored in unheated sheds and garages.
“Although many of the products contained within extruded blown mould pre-shaped containers may not be glamorous the role they play in keeping our cars running smoothly, our households free from germs and our gardens free from pests make them indispensable,” says Tom Kerchiss of colour communication device and coating technology specialist RK Print Coat Instruments Ltd.
While no one would doubt that motor oils and similar products are essential, the difficulty for the manufacturer of these products, the brand owners and the retailers – is how to differentiate one brand from another on a crowded retail shelf, probably full of other distinctly un-sexy products? How do you make motor oil look inviting?
There are a number of sure-fire ways to make a product such as engine oil stand out from one another. Incorporating colourful labels and/or making use of eye-catching holograms either in the form of stripes, patches or seals, is highly effective, especially as plastic surfaces accept design enhancements such as holograms and labels really well making an especially strong impact on clear containers utilised for clear liquids, for example, dishwasher detergent, mouth wash, shampoo and floor care products. Holograms, in-mold applied labelling or labels of the no-label look variety can be stunning when used on dark coloured containers, providing areas of contrast and sending a clear statement that the product contained within is premium quality.
In the case of holograms, a metallised hologram can be originated, embossed and delivered ready for converting and application to the plastic surface either through pressure sensitive or hot stamping within a short space of time and can be produced very economically. Holograms can be made as tamper evident labels and applied by hand or automatic label application equipment. Another option is that the hologram can be made on a type of transfer tape called a hot stamping foil. Still other options are 2D/3D and so-called classically produced 3D holograms as well as dot matrix computer generated, etc.
Imaginatively printed labels in a variety of shapes applied to a manufacturers proprietary shaped container can serve as an exclamation mark, bold colours convey an emphatic statement of quality and richness, while processes such as embossing communicates quiet sophistication.
The distinctive shape of the container chosen also aids in identification, sometimes also serving as an anti-counterfeit deterrent. For marketers and packaging printers and converters the need to determine whether chosen colours or decorative enhancements work across different packaging mediums and at point-of-sale is important; specific colour ownership can help defend the product against imitators and colour should remain constant so it becomes engrained in the mind of the consumer, even when packaging format and size changes.
Colour fidelity is critical in all applications including the production of labels (PS, in-mold, wrap around, etc.,) for rigid plastic contained products. But so many inconsistencies can influence the ability to achieve the necessary colour consistency. Colour matching is not the only problem the producer and user of flexo, UV flexo or one of the other print processes is likely to come up against, but its often the one that makes the press operator, pressroom manager and ink technician want to throw up their hands in despair.
Drawdown devices have been available for many years along with other devices to measure and/or monitor colour variables, but the truth of the matter is that the chemistry and physics associated with reproducing an agreed colour can be difficult. Not only does everyone perceive colour differently, slight variations in ink blending standards, and the way in which the ink interacts with the substrate, even differences in individual presses can produce unexpected results.
“The physical and chemical nature of a pigment – the size and even shape of its particles can contribute to the refractive nature of the colorant and thus to its hue. The amount of pigment used affects colour strength, while the type of vehicle used influences both hue and colour value. The colour of the vehicle itself, its ability to wet individual particles; even the interaction between pigment and vehicle can affect colour shade, as can a substrate due to its colour and drying, absorption characteristics. The substrate will also affect the amount of light reflected back through the ink film; gloss, matte paper, clear-film and metallic surfaces – all have different light reflective properties, making the deposited ink appear differently, and sometimes not as the customer had in mind.” Notes RK’s Tom Kerchiss.
While drawdown and other devices can be useful, few systems have been unable to undertake more than one task or are able to operate under real world operating conditions. In recent years a range of systems have become available for monitoring colour accuracy and determining other aspects of printability including gloss and scuff resistance. Devices such as the FlexiProof 100 and its variant the FlexiProof UV also allow for the trialling of new materials and jobs, removing the need for undertaking this task on a production machine. This saves on production machine downtime, minimises waste, maximises uptime and makes better use of resources. Both are scaled down but component critically exact versions of flexographic presses. Another system, also designed and developed by RK Print Coat Instruments, this time for the converting house that perhaps employs both flexo and gravure is the GP100.
The GP100 is a compact bench top device for the production of high quality proofs using gravure inks of press viscosity. With the GP100 any flexible substrate can be printed; it incorporates a microprocessor controlled servo drive and offers a high degree of controllability with variable printing speeds of between 1 to 100 metres per minute. The GP100 is ideal for research and development, computer colour matching and for the production of presentation samples. Both producers of gravure inks and the user of such inks should find the GP100 invaluable when used for quality control purposes.
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Source: RK Print