Research and Development Focus in 2018
In the first blog of 2018, Stuart Kellock, reveals what the Label Apeel R&D team will be concentrating on in the next 12 months.
“For Label Apeel, 2018 is all about what we can achieve, and how far we can push ourselves, with different finishes. We’ve recognised that all too often labels are one dimensional when it comes to decorative finishing and we want to put a stop to it.
“We’ve all seen what can emerge from the press when you combine substrate via the decorative process. Using either hot foiling, screening or combining substrate ink, varnishes or coatings, it becomes possible to create three dimensional traits.
Making labels three dimensional
“A great example of this, and firm favourite with our visitors, is a wine label we first printed over five years ago for Australian wine brand Bootstraps. We created a combination of fluted embossing dies, digital print, and hot foiling to give the label a truly unique, leather-look effect.
“Right now, there are labels only using foiling, and there are brands only using embossing, and there are those benefiting from high build screen. But many brands have been timid about putting all these together. I think if we throw all this into a single pallet there’s a lot more that can be done with it – and it’s exciting!"
Collaborating with designers
“Working with our sister company, Shuck Design, our R&D focus for 2018 is going to be developing in-house label designs that showcase a whole variety of finishes and effects, so that designers can see what’s possible when collaborating with the right label printer.
“What we really want is to promote cross fertilisation. What I mean by that is encouraging brands in personal care to look for inspiration from the spirits sector, whilst the beers, wines and spirits companies consider ideas from the food industries. It’s all about looking beyond your own sector for new design concepts and solutions, as well as reconsidering the application of these ideas beyond the areas where we see them most.
“Ultimately, our goal is to encourage brands to expand their ideas and ignite new ways of thinking about label decoration and interaction by presenting our own R&D results to them, along with informed knowledge of what is and isn’t possible with new and emerging inks, foils and materials."
Are there any particular trends that you think we’ll see going forward with this?
“For us, the next two years is going to be all about textures. They currently don’t play a big enough part in what brands are trying to achieve, but getting a texture that feels different to the consumer, getting that feel on the hand just right, that will be the thing that will make a big difference. I think we’re see a lot of fluted dyes and embossing incorporated into foiling and perhaps more integrated varnishes into print as well.
“What’s so exciting about this work is that it’s available on short, medium and long run. And that’s the whole point; smaller brands can easily afford to think about high-end branding because of digital printing and cheaper tooling options for finishes. The very top end designers know about what can be achieved and keep themselves well-versed in what’s happening. But new brands and smaller companies (who have a multitude of other things to focus on) often tell us that researching packaging simply isn’t a priority – or even a thought that crosses their mind!
“As a result, many brands aren’t up to speed with what’s possible and remain completely unaware that the designs and finishes they see on high end competitors are also wholly available to them – even for small batch runs and limited editions. What we’re hoping to do is to educate brand owners and designers through dialogue, masterclasses and development in-house on various R&D projects.”