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Satisfied with printed electronics so far?

Satisfied with printed electronics so far?
T+ink Touchcode technology

Hollywood often tells us how much a movie cost to make so we’ll be suitably impressed with the studio’s commitment to totally wow us.

So I was amazed to learn that companies developing printed electronics are spending from a few hundred thousand to a few million dollars to make prototypes. These numbers come from research done by IDTechEx, producers of Printed Electronics events around the world.

As we all know, risk-adverse packaging developers and engineers often need proof-of-concept on emerging technologies. But how long do we wait until they are no longer “emerging”? I was doing articles about packaging applications using printed electronics in 2008. One example back then was British American Tobacco’s Kent cigarettes carton. A panel of the reusable package was printed with conductive ink and displayed a scrolling message when it was touched.

Fast forward six years and the number of commercialized packaging applications is still pretty low, in my opinion. But I can see that changing rapidly—and perhaps overnight.

 IDTechEx polled end users, asking what they want in printed electronics. The answers are enlightening.

More brand owners are pursuing printed electronics programs—and with dedicated staff. Not surprising, most of the work is going on in secret to protect intellectual property (IP) and ensure a competitive edge. “Many users see printed electronics adding value by enabling differentiated products and interactivity,” reports IDTechEx.

Two other insights from the study:

1. “End users do not want to become integrators themselves, they want to see complete solutions or prototypes that they feel is currently lacking in the industry.” (Those huge investment dollars mentioned above now make more sense.)

2. “The technical performance has fallen short of expectations, as has cost reduction: many are starting with simple devices, finding that more sophisticated devices are too complex right now.”

A recent promising development that addresses the performance and cost issues is an agreement between T+ink, a leader in conductive ink technology and Edison award winner, and Sun Chemical, the largest global producer of inks. In partnership, they have formed T+sun to develop new conductive ink solutions designed to engage consumers with interactive packages, as well as to help manage inventory systems.

Terry Kaiserman, chief technology officer at T+ink, explains that conductive ink “offers more security than QR codes” and can replace radio frequency identification (RFID) at “a fraction of the cost.”

When asked how conductive ink offers more security than QR (quick-response) codes, Kaiserman explains about the company’s Touchcode technology, which is sensed and recognized through the capacitive screen on a smartphone. “Touchcode conductive ink signatures cannot be easily replicated by a counterfeiter,” he says. “QR codes can be photocopied and reproduced by anyone. Touchcode technology is embedded at time of packaging printing or container fabrication. It’s invisible on the packaging.”

And when asked what percentage of the cost of RFID, he reiterates, “It’s a fraction of the cost—depending on the type of package, substrate and ink formulation.”

If you haven’t been impressed with advancements in printed electronics so far, just wait. The next wave of high-impact, cost-effective packaging applications is sure to get your attention—and the attention of shoppers.

Oh, and that Kent cigarette carton example from 2008? That was a T+ink project.

Achieving improved package usability through engineering

Achieving improved package usability through engineering

 Packaging Digest caught up with Robbie Workman, creative director at xpedx, for an exclusive interview on achieving improved package usability through engineering. Robbie will also be speaking on the same subject at SouthPack on Tues., April 15, 2014.

What is your background in package engineering?

I have been immersed in the development of creative solutions for consumer brands for over 14 years. I bring keen insight and broad experience to a vast array of brand design, POP, industrial and packaging design solutions. I have also provided and/or directed structural and graphic design to companies of all sizes, from International Fortune 500 to regional business.; though the daily development of ideas from concept, through manufacturing to the check-out counter at national retailers. I am always interested in finding new ways to connect people to the products they love... through design.

How important is the collaboration process with colleagues in research and development, manufacturing, marketing, graphic design, and regulatory departments to address technical and marketing challenges?

Collaboration is by far the most crucial step with any scalable packaging project. The retail landscape has changed dramatically over the last several years, and customers are not interested in packaging solutions which suit the “status quo”.  It’s vitally important to build a team of well-suited, influential skill-sets around the project at hand, and dive into the culture and supply-chain of the customer, to solve problems and find creative solutions.

How has increased concern for the environment created a greater demand for packaging engineers?

Every packaging project today has some aspect of addressing a “Green” detail, or positively impacting the environment through its use. Consumers are keen on the impact of a product’s packaging, and how it affects the world around them. It’s exciting to constantly witness new “Green” materials for development, and new ways of using an existing process in more impactful way. Insightful, entreprenureal packaging engineers are the ones breaking this new ground, and discovering these best practices. As long as packaging engineers continue to develop “Green” solutions which don’t compromise budget—they will always be extremely valued by manufacturers and CPG corporations around the world.

What are some key considerations for companies that are striving to “go green” and seek sustainable packaging?

Budget, budget, budget! It’s inside humor for packaging designers, we always say… “We can design it as green, as you can manage!” Honestly, the key question is, what sort of environmental story do you want your packaging to tell? A designer can easily take a packaging style back to its origin, and find solutions with extravagant, highly-sustainable materials—but typically this adds too much onto the existing budget. Oftentimes we find sustainable solutions by addressing a variety of inefficient details, which add up to larger sustainable impact for the product.

Discuss package life cycle.

Packaging life cycle, truly mimics the product’s life cycle…

1) Initially, when a product arrives to market, the associated packaging is an overly-substantial part of the process. Early product volumes are typically low, and the developed packaging is a large budgetary percentage, often intended for some form of hand-assembly to load or kit. However, as the product gains acceptance in the marketplace….

2) The next step of packaging evolves to mimic a larger product volume. Typically the packaging gets smaller in mass, and some aspect of semi-automation becomes a key point of the design. The supply chain for the product starts to form itself at this stage, and new challenges arise for the packaging to address. This stage is where the largest packaging development exists, and the biggest impact is made.

3) Finally, as a product gains significant market acceptance, packaging can slightly adjust to suit. The product has usually been on the market for some time, and a lot of variables have been tested throughout the package’s use. This is the stage where audits are a popular way to locate cost savings. Materials can be adjusted to save cost, space and total spend. Additional, minor tweaks to a packaging design can help drive savings, or increase speed to market.

Name some best design practices for implementing optimized positive impact for end-users.

  • Be mindful of who the customer really is, when developing a packaging solution. We always know the market for which the product is intended, but the main question is actually, “Who is the main stakeholder with the company you are designing the packaging for?” A great designer can bridge the customer’s wants, with the end consumer’s needs, and win every time.
  • Always go with your gut instinct when designing elements of a package, but…. don’t over-think the details. Designers and engineers are oftentimes charismatic, selfish people. We spend endless hours examining the details of something we create, which countless consumers will touch, open and interact with. That said, you have to come to a point in the design process where a final decision is made, and you don’t look back.
  • Be a sponge. Keep your eyes open and never stop watching, learning and asking questions. As a designer or engineer, we have to be open to our competitors, colleagues and the world around us—to find answers to questions we might not even be looking for at the moment. You never know when that one idea that you came across at a trade show, or on a TV commercial, can help you find a solution to the big project which you’ll be working on next week.

Washington winery gets sustainable makeover

Washington winery gets sustainable makeover

Snoqualmie Winery, Washington's largest certified organic vineyard in the state, launches new packaging and an updated website (www.snoqualmie.com) for its entire offering of wines. 

In addition to the modern makeover, Snoqualmie's redesigned packaging exemplifies the winery's pledge to promoting a sustainable environment.

The winery's new labels are designed to enhance shelf presence with a sleek and modern feel.

"The goal of the new package is to continue to deliver on our commitment to sustainability and organics," says Kirsten Elliot, sr. marketing manager for Snoqualmie Winery. The ECO glass bottles are among the lightest in the industry and will help reduce our carbon footprint. Beginning in the vineyard and carrying through to the winery and our packaging, it's our belief that investing in these practices is the best way to highlight the wines."

As part of its new packaging and website introduction, Snoqualmie has also simplified its tiers of wines to make it easier for consumers to identify on-shelf. This includes renaming the "Naked" line to "ECO" and color-coding each tier to create clear differentiation.

Kirsten Elliot, sr. marketing manager for Snoqualmie Winery, gave Packaging Digest exclusive details on the winery's new packaging.

When and where (regionally or nationally) were the products introduced?
Snoqualmie Winery, named after the mountain pass that serves as the gateway to Washington wine country, has been making wines that reflect the balance and natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest for more than
three decades. It was established in 1983. Snoqualmie was one of first wineries in the state to craft wines from USDA-certified organically grown grapes, and as of 2008 has the largest certified organic vineyard in the state.


What were the key goals and requirements from a marketing view? From a packaging view?
Our goals at Snoqualmie Winery have always been to be a leader in viticultural sustainability. We believe that environmental stewardship and responsible practices in our vineyards and winemaking facilities not only help us to make the best quality wines possible, they are the right things to do for our winery and our community. The new redesigned packaging embodies the winery's commitment to fostering a sustainable environment. We made significant investments in sustainable packaging materials such as lightweight ECO glass bottles (397g), which result in a 13 percent reduction in carbon emissions. The bottles are made with 25 percent less glass than an average wine bottle and require much less fuel to transport. We are a leader in sustainability from the vine to the package.

Describe packaging components of bottle, closure, label (other?) by vendor(s) and specification (or structure/polymer, size, style). To what degree is each custom? Any reason these particular vendors were selected?
We are able to share the following details about our packaging:
--Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified corks and labels are used on all Snoqualmie wines, guaranteeing sustainable practices at the source of origin.
--Snoqualmie’s corks are also certified by the Rainforest Alliance, an international group committed to conserving biodiversity through sustainability.
--100 percent post-consumer waste labels and other printed materials are used on the ECO and Columbia Valley wines.
--Shipping boxes for the ECO and Columbia Valley wines are certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) for responsibly sourced paper products, and dividers are made from 100 percent recycled material.
--Recycled content makes up over 40 percent of all Snoqualmie glass, and the winery transitioned the ECO and Columbia Valley wines to new, lightweight recycled Verallia’s ECO glass bottles, created with reduced
carbon emissions.
--The ECO glass bottles are among the lightest in the industry (397g) and result in a 13 percent reduction in carbon emissions.


Any third-party involvement such as a packaging consultant or design company that should be credited?
All creative design was done in-house, with packaging components selected in partnership with our label, glass, cork, and box suppliers.  
 

What were the key goals of the graphics design?
Snoqualmie's new labels are designed to enhance shelf presence with a sleek and modern—yet natural—feel. The labels feature a visual of the mountain pass that serves as the gateway to Washington wine country, and symbolize the winery's reliance on nature in crafting Snoqualmie's acclaimed wines.
 

Where are the products packaged?
The wine is produced and packaged in Paterson, WA.

How much did sustainability play a role in the package development?
Sustainability was a key factor in the package development. The goal of the new packaging is to continue to deliver on our commitment to sustainability and organics. The ECO glass bottles are among the lightest in the industry and will help reduce our carbon footprint. Beginning in the vineyard and carrying through to the winery and our packaging, it's our belief that investing in these practices is the best way to highlight the wines.

Now More Clear Packaging Options as VisiPak Expands Its Product Line With Thermoformed Clamshells

Clearly a visual advantage, thermoformed packaging adds shape to the presentation of your product. The clear clamshell allows your product and printed materials to show through. Economical and easily customized, a thermoformed package will protect your product as it displays its most precise details. Call 800-797-7886 today for additional information and FREE SAMPLES! (BOLD)Visipak www.VisiPak.com

Now More Clear Packaging Options

Clearly a visual advantage, thermoformed packaging adds shape to the presentation of your product. The clear clamshell allows your product and printed materials to show through. Economical and easily customized, a thermoformed package will protect your product as it displays its most precise details. Call 800-797-7886 today for additional information and FREE SAMPLES!

Visipak
www.VisiPak.com

Now More Clear Packaging Options as VisiPak Expands Its Product Line With Thermoformed Clamshells

Clearly a visual advantage, thermoformed packaging adds shape to the presentation of your product. The clear clamshell allows your product and printed materials to show through. Economical and easily customized, a thermoformed package will protect your product as it displays its most precise details. Call 800-797-7886 today for additional information and FREE SAMPLES!

Visipak
www.VisiPak.com

Now More Clear Packaging Options as VisiPak Expands Its Product Line With Thermoformed Clamshells

Clearly a visual advantage, thermoformed packaging adds shape to the presentation of your product. The clear clamshell allows your product and printed materials to show through. Economical and easily customized, a thermoformed package will protect your product as it displays its most precise details. Call 800-797-7886 today for additional information and FREE SAMPLES!

 

Visipak

www.VisiPak.com

Are steps towards “zero waste” worth it?

Are steps towards “zero waste” worth it?

The idea of moving towards a “Zero Waste” world seems too farfetched for some people on the business end of the spectrum to take seriously. Even so, consumers are starting to value businesses that are more sustainably-minded, beyond simple “greenwashing.” Many skeptics seem to think that this is some idealized, unobtainable goal, when in fact there are very reachable and accessible methods of taking a few beginning steps towards Zero Waste. Plus, consumers aren’t just attracted to companies that generate Zero Waste; they value ones that are putting forth real efforts into making those first few steps to solving their own waste generation problems.  

A good way of not going about reaching green-conscious consumers is exemplified by petroleum giant BP. After spending $45 million in acquiring the solar energy company Solarex, BP subsequently spent an additional $200 million around public relations just to get the word out about it. The effort to actually make a sustainable impact was foiled when consumers found out about it, and the blatantly obvious green washing efforts had them in an uproar.

On the other hand, certain companies have made real concerted efforts into limiting their environmental impact. On great example is Kimberly-Clark Professional (KCP) and parent Kimberly-Clark Corp., who have already made the commitment to divert all their manufacturing waste from landfills by 2015. Kimberly-Clark Professional’s RightCycle program has already helped to collect and recycle over 150,000 pounds of disposable cleanroom garments and gloves, and their Global Nonwovens division already diverts more than 99 percent of its manufacturing waste.

Not only do sustainability-building efforts, like Kimberly-Clark’s, radiate feelings of social responsibility throughout the industry, but they also put value back into waste materials that would have otherwise ended up unused in a landfill. For certain products, like aluminum cans and plastic bottles, using recycled materials for manufacturing can actually be cheaper than making new ones from virgin material. To quantify this relatively untapped resource, the EPA notes that only about 8 percent of plastics in the U.S., including plastics in flexible packaging like chip bags, actually ended up being recycled in 2011.

TerraCycle’s newest recycling innovation, Zero Waste Boxes, are just one answer for this massive problem, presenting a solution to one of the biggest concerns for companies and consumers about limiting their generation of waste: how can recycling be done simply and conveniently?

There are four types of boxes ranging in price based on the amount of waste separation involved in the recycling process: the low-cost, waste stream-specific Sponsored Boxes are for items and packaging like baby food pouches, diaper and wipe packaging, and individual-wrapped cheese packaging.

Boxes that require a bit more separation include the Category Separation Boxes, for items like coffee discs and pods, e-waste, and laminated paper packaging. Room Separation Boxes for the bathroom, kitchen, or bedroom allow for even more types of waste to be collected in one box, while the premium Zero Waste choice, the No Separation Box, accepts all non-recyclable material that is non-organic and non-hazardous.

Consumers are smart, and they are taking steps themselves towards a world of Zero Waste. Considering Americans generate about seven pounds of trash per person every day, it’s not surprising that people are starting to notice that solutions to waste are a necessity. Interestingly enough, in July of 2011 an Ipsos poll revealed that the top reason Americans typically do not recycle isn’t because they don’t notice the benefits, but because it is not convenient enough based on where they live.

Corporations are starting to take sustainability seriously, and consumers are noticing. Being “green conscious” not only adds value back into manufacturing-generated waste, but it exudes a level of responsibility that will resonate with consumers. A world of Zero Waste obviously won’t happen overnight, but those first few steps taken by industry-leaders can most definitely guide the way.

Author Tom Szaky, founder/CEO of TerraCycle, has won more than 50 awards for entrepreneurship, also writes blogs for Treehugger and The New York Times, recently published a book called "Revolution in a Bottle" and is the star of a National Geographic Channel special, "Garbage Moguls."

IoPP partners with UBM Canon for multi-show event

IoPP partners with UBM Canon for multi-show event

The Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) and UBM Canon have teamed up to put on packaging education seminars during a multi-show event at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. HBA Global Expo, EastPack and Pharmapack North America are the three co-located tradeshows that are organized by UBM Canon and will run June 10-12 in New York City.

The seminars will take place June 12, 2014, and will cater to a range of packaging professionals with topics that are relevant across the entire industry. There will be three mini-sessions that run the course of two hours and are being developed through the IoPP Packaging Learning Center. During these mini-sessions, there will be several half hour presentations that are all related to the topic, as well as a panel discussion.

Seminar 1: Improving Package Design for the Retail Experience
Breakout sessions (10-11:45 a.m.)
• Leveraging an existing retail brand identity
• Winning color strategies for a global marketplace
• Panel discussion: packaging implications for breaking into mass retail

Seminar 2: Leveraging Smart and Interactive Packaging Technologies to Engage Customers
Breakout sessions (1-2:45 p.m.)
• Developing the business case for electronically enabled packaging
• Package design teams’ response to market changes and technology use for customer engagement
• Interactive packaging technology for engaging customers and product differentiation

Seminar 3: Innovations in Package Materials and Their Usability
Breakout sessions (3-4:45 p.m.)
• Expanded uses and new applications for alternative package materials
• Technical design implications for packaging and usability
• New polymers and plastics—evaluating stability and performance

View the full agenda, along with speakers and pricing here.

Says Jim George, IoPP’s director of education: “These seminars will provide a forum to update packaging professionals from many corners of the industry on new developments and best practices.

“These seminars provide IoPP with a bigger footprint for the audiences of these three longstanding shows for delivering packaging education and also celebrating packaging excellence. On the evening of June 10, IoPP’s AmeriStar Package Awards, along with the UBM Canon Packaging Group Visionary Awards, will recognize finalists and award winners at a dual presentation ceremony during EastPack at the Javits Center.” Register for the awards event here.

IoPP is seeking speakers for some of its seminar sessions. For consideration, contact Jim George, 630-696-4011.

Get information on HBA Global Expo, EastPack and Pharmapack North America.

Consumers want their air fresheners to do more than just smell good

Consumers want their air fresheners to do more than just smell good

Consumers have become more aware about the ingredients that are being used in their household products, with concerns over phthalates, allergies and asthma detrimental to the air care market. Growth opportunities exist for more brands to expand into other household categories or even household appliances, as between 60 and 80 percent of U.S. consumers are interested in new products that offer added benefits beyond odor removal.

U.S. air freshener sales grew by 12 percent during 2011-2013 and we expect growth will continue at about 2 to 3 percent a year into 2018. Plug-in/battery-operated was the only segment in the U.S. to see sales decline (2 percent) during 2011-2013, likely linked to its more expensive nature. Between 2011 and 2013, sales growth was seen across the other segments, the strongest for in-car fresheners (105 percent), followed by aerosols (12 percent) and slow-release (7 percent).

Products that offer improved air quality, the ability to repel bugs and antibacterial properties command the most interest but new product development here is niche. There is strong interest in products that emphasize holistic/relaxing attributes, with room for brands to tap into the popularity of particular lifestyle/exercise choices (such as yoga and visiting spas).

An example of the multi-functional trend in air care is the Aura Cacia Grapefruit & Lavandin Awakening Yoga Mist. It’s an organic mist for yoga mats, rooms and the body. It is said to create a more mindful yoga session with organic, 100 percent pure essential oils of refreshing grapefruit and balancing lavandin. The mist has not been tested on animals, is tested and verified for purity and is free from synthetic ingredients, paraben as well as petroleum. The manufacturer gives back 1 percent of the sales to organic farmers and their communities. The product is certified organic by OAI and retails in a 4-fl oz pack.

Another product catering to consumers’ desire for multiple benefits hails from Japan. The Kao Resesh Healing Aroma Refreshing Shower Deodorizer is a deodorizer that can be sprayed in the air and on fabric. It contains a blend of 13 natural essential fragrances and 100 percent natural aroma, including cedarwood, guaiacwood and eucalyptus. This product retails in a 325ml bottle, and launched on Sept. 28, 2013, open-priced. Also available is a Relaxing Shower fragrance variant, in a 325ml bottle. Refills in 400ml packs are also available.

And out of Canada, Febreze Sleep Serenity Quiet Jasmine Bedside Diffuser Air Freshener is said to have a fragrance that promotes sleep. This product requires no electrical plug, peeling or cutting and retails in a 5.5ml pack comprising one reusable unit base and one scent cartridge.

— Dr. Benjamin Punchard, Global Packaging Insights Director, Mintel