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Packaging: touch&feel finishings

28 022018


Lamination, varnishing, reliefs, screen-printing effects and embossing. Finishings represent a bridge between technology and our senses, they spotlight the qualities of the materials and details, convey tactile emotions and animate all the imaginative possibilities for the packaging. They provide product packaging with that special touch that enchants, astounds and surprises. Let's discover the features of the different techniques: at Print4All, we will be able to ‘experience’ them first-hand.

Our perception of a product derives from a combination of its sensorial characteristics, such as colour, shape, smell, feel and sound. These aspects are not processed individually by our nervous system, instead they interact, providing a final perception that goes beyond the sum of the single characteristics.

If it’s true that we can experience the world through touch, then it's also true that we take pleasure in touching. The same can be said for packaging, with tactile experiences playing a key role. Countless studies have shown how consumers are more inclined to buy if they have the chance to touch the item. One study conducted by the San Luis Obispo Polytechnic University in California used prototype packaging for cosmetic products to test the preference of buyers. The participants were asked a series of questions on prices and how they buy cosmetic products. 81% of interviewees admitted to touching the packaging before purchasing a new cosmetic product. 56% agreed that premium quality cosmetics have expensive and more appealing packaging. 46% felt that luxurious packaging was synonymous with quality and a more expensive product.


Coatings and varnishes are mostly used to create tactility. Satin-finish and soft-touch plasticising is widely used since it is pleasant to the touch and has a matte finish, which is perfect for highlighting polished details. In particular, it has been demonstrated that soft-touch plasticising activates the neurons that trigger delight, thus increasing the inclination to buy.


Offset and UV varnishes
Varnishing enables you to turn product packaging into an authentic tactile experience. Research in this field has come a long way: with extremely low costs per run, highly surprising effects can be achieved on all types of printed materials. More precisely, it is necessary to distinguish between machine and UV offset varnishes, applied inline or offline. In the first case, it is the traditional printing machine that allows for the application of the varnish with spreader, polymer or plate. With oil-based or drip-off varnish on the printed page, clear varnishes with different thicknesses and chemical compositions can be simultaneously ‘spread’; these alternatively repel one another and create glossy-matte effects. The matte areas can have either a satin or orange-peel finish. In order to increase the tactile effect, it is however necessary to use glossy UV varnish, usually paired with a matte varnish, to optically ‘soften’ the base. Furthermore, UV varnishes possess a number of gloss and resistance qualities. Offline UV allows for additional tactile effects: by varying the quantity of varnish applied, it is possible to obtain a thicker layer, whilst with special micelles, you can achieve velvet (soft-touch), course sand (owing to the micro-granules in the varnish,) pearlescent or glittery effects.


Digital screen printing and more
However, tactile effects are best achieved with screen printing, which allows for the use of varnishes and pigmented inks. Therefore, it ensures both clear and coloured finishes. Moreover, screen printing also enables you to deposit a greater quantity of product. Of course, this requires more looms and steps, but thickness can even be millimetric. The fact that screen printing does not allow for fine graphics or those with very small characters is nonetheless a limitation. This is because the large amount of ink tends to expand in such a large loom. That’s why a new technology was developed to replace screen printing. In fact, the new digital technology allows for digital embossing. Inkjet is the new solution that allows you to create glossy and satin 3D reliefs on specific areas, and up to 70 microns on papers ranging from 135 to 500 gr, perfect therefore even for packaging.

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