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  • 09 Feb 2018

Nanotechnology foils open-up new packaging design vista

Fresnels' 'Peacock' optically variable foil (OVF) nanotechnology

Dr Glenn Wood, COO of Fresnels, considers the latest in high impact nanotechnology foils for brand packaging applications

In the world of retail packaging, brand owners – and by extension the design houses that work for them – crave innovation. It appears that they’re always on the lookout for new ways to make sure that their products stand-out to consumers and radiate that all important brand appeal – ‘unseen means unsold’, which signifies that the war for shelf space in retail outlets remains as hotly contested as ever. 

It might even be said these people are messianic about the need for eye-catching design enhancements and added value appeal, and constantly apply pressure on converters to show them engaging new features. At the heart of the developments is nanotechnology, which is having a profound influence on printing and packaging technologies and applications, particularly in the progress of advanced new printing materials and stamping foils. 

Developments in foils have progressed so far that the latest generation from companies such as Fresnels can exhibit dramatic color switching patterns, which in turn, create stunning new effects suitable for enhancing the appeal of branded packaging, especially folding cartons, opening up new horizons in the brand augmentation market and pushing the boundaries in contemporary design and thinking. 

It could even be possible that these new stamping foils (hot and cold) now emerging will ultimately replace laminates as a way to add lens effects to labels and folding cartons for decorative impact. 

Indeed, at Labelexpo Europe it was noticeable how many people commented on the foils and the similarity of the effect to that produced by color changing inks (OVIs) and used on many currencies around the world including the US 100 dollar note. In fact, Fresnel’s color switch, especially green to gold, is easier to see than the security inks and easier to apply. Either hot stamping foil or cold foil can be used to apply the foil to paperboard or plastic, thereby enhancing product shelf appeal. 

Impactful packaging 
The positive effect of these nanotechnology foils will be seen on the shelves from a distance of a few feet. This is the raison d’etre for eye-catching, impactful packaging: to distinguish the product from its neighbors on crowded shelves and draw in the prospective purchaser. Retail studies reveal that shoppers struggle to home in on the product they will ultimately buy. This this is where the foil can play an important role in engaging consumers and ultimately securing additional sales. 

Technologies such as the circular fresnel lens have proved enormously successful as an optical device for attracting attention, but they do have their drawbacks: it has only been possible to create the lens effect in relatively thick laminate material, which can be expensive. 

This is leading to innovation in technologies that can be applied by brand owners and converters using standard foil application techniques, and which incorporate new optically attractive features that use core competencies in nanoscale engineering for visually exciting effects. Among these is the new ‘Peacock’ optically variable foil (OVF) nanotechnology. 

This robust and secure stamping foil has been inspired by the iridescence found in nature to deliver an arresting palette of colors and contemporary effects, which can be applied using standard foil application techniques. Providing a striking visual effect similar to optically variable inks (OVI), ‘Peacock’ foils can be applied quickly and easily without the requirement for registration equipment, saving time and costs in the process. 

The nanotechnology, which is easier to see and apply than traditional security inks, reflects the naturally occurring color variations seen in a peacock’s tail feathers. The color change features captured in the designs using the foil are difficult to replicate and can therefore be adopted for use as a foil-based brand protection feature. The technology can also be used to produce pairs of highly saturated iridescent colors for added design impact. 

These new technologies have to be seen as more than just another batch of consumables. They are a game-changing decorative effect, providing graphic and packaging designers with an entirely new tool to enhance branded packaging, especially for high-end goods. 

Because ‘Peacock’ is available in either transparent or fully metallized versions it offers new opportunities to apply the effect either under the print (metallic version) or above the print (transparent version). Both methods open new graphic vistas for melding fixed color print with angular variability of color in visually stimulating ways.

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