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Transfer print 'pops' prototype boxes

Private-label packager Huish Detergents, Salt Lake City, UT, is vertically integrated, operating its own printing presses and machinery to convert corrugated into detergent boxes that it fills.
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FILED IN:  Applications  > Consumer products  > Laundry
     

The company has many clients that want to see package mockups before they’re printed, according to senior designer Todd Cripps.

In early 2003, Huish began using Magic® PTransfer™ from InteliCoat Technologies. Supplied in rolls, the 5-mil structure consists of three coating layers on a release liner. The easy-to-use material, which allows the company to simulate what the real package will look like, reduces time, labor costs, and materials waste over its previous prototyping method, Cripps says. It also evokes “wows” from clients who have never seen a three-dimensional prototype like this before, he adds. “The quality is so good that many clients think they are seeing the final packaging, not a prototype.” Clients include Sam’s, Wal-Mart, Costco, and Safeway.

Once it has a design that’s ready to print, Cripps says it can mock up a prototype in just 30 minutes. That time includes reverse-printing by a Hewlett-Packard DesignJet 5000 onto the PTransfer printable laminate material which is transferred via heat-lamination onto the corrugated blank, which has usually been die cut. The box is then assembled and taped much like the six-color prototype shown for HEB Grocery, which was subsequently commercialized as-is in four varieties. A 1-mil fluoropolymer protective layer eliminates ink smudging and fingerprints.

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Before, the prototyping process took an hour or more—more than twice the time with PTransfer—with printed paper adhesive-applied to the corrugated substrate. That resulted in crinkled folds and colors, especially white, that didn’t simulate the results as well as this, according to Cripps.

“We can see how a substrate affects the colors, and customers can place the product on a shelf and see how the design compares to competitive brands,” says Cripps.

Huish produces an average of 10 to 15 prototypes each week, says Cripps, for clients who each want anywhere from one to 10 prototypes. One special run of 400 samples printed with the PTransfer material this past year saved Huish a week’s labor, he estimates.

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