- January 01, 2009, By Jörg Dähnhardt, Heidelberg USA Inc.
In today's converting and packaging environment, security needs are changing constantly. Security features traditionally used only on important documents such as checks or birth certificates now are being transferred to new markets — and the converting and packaging industries are part of this emerging brand security trend.
Protection of the brand itself is only the beginning — repackaged or refilled products, alterations, or lookalikes may cause damage to consumer health that only compounds harm to a brand. Based on the potential for damage, converters may choose from a variety of covert and overt security technologies to mitigate the risk.
Current security trends apply to all areas of the package: the substrate, design, inks or coatings employed, and specialized processes.
- Special Materials | Unique substrates include special papers, plastics, or other nonpaper materials, some of which require a special printing process such as ultraviolet (UV). A given material also may allow for special designs, such as lenticular elements, directly on a box.
- Design Options | Simple design techniques, such as using spot colors to set apart a brand, simply don't cut it any longer. Today's security environment demands special design effects such as those that change color based on the temperature or viewing angle. Micro-embossing is another method converters can use to protect a package. Converters also may add covert design elements such as hidden images that require a decoder to verify brand authenticity.
- Inks and Coatings | The same holds true for inks or coatings that only can be seen under UV light, including use of metamerismic pairs. Overt techniques include pearlescent coatings that have an eye-catching effect — and provide added security — or scratch-off inks, which have the added benefit of encouraging interaction with the package.
- Special Processes | Last but not least, the use of special processes such as a special die-cut shape or a foil application makes a package harder to copy.
By employing these techniques or a combination thereof, converters can enhance package security greatly and protect their customers' brands. The more unique the processes and the more elusive the material, design, or ink, the more difficult it becomes to tamper with or copy the package. However, even the highest levels of package printing security can be thwarted if the chain of custody prior to the end consumer is broken. Recent developments to help combat this include security features that are applied in the same line where the product is filled in the box, then sealed, creating a nearly airtight security experience for converters and their customers.
Jörg Dänhardt is director of product management, Very Large Format, for Heidelberg USA. Contact him at 770-794-6196; firstname.lastname@example.org.