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Godiva goes green while printing gold

Godiva trims more than 30% of its printing costs by switching from an imported specialty paper to a foil metallic coated paper. Sustainability gains are impressive.

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The gold Godiva box is recognized worldwide as the symbol for the premium chocolates inside. Recently, the chocolatier trimmed more than 30% from the cost of printing wraps and gift boxes by changing from an imported specialty paper to printing with MiraFoil® metallic coating from Henkel Corp. 

“Godiva asked us to match a specialty paper from Europe that was very, very expensive,” said John Giusto, senior vice president of manufacturing at Curtis Packaging. “Their primary motivation was cost. The specialty material was at least twice the cost of alternatives. It was a gravure process that used expensive additives and materials from an exclusive supplier to achieve the gold color Godiva wanted.”

Perfecting the process

Curtis Packaging was up to the task. As it so happened, Curtis is also a leader in the use of MiraFoil technology (marketed as CurtChrome by Curtis)—a UV-curable alternative to foil board laminating and hot foil stamping that is equally brilliant as foil. In fact, by the time Godiva challenged Curtis to duplicate the effect, the converter had already established a solid history and knowledge base with MiraFoil technology.

“We purchased a KBA  8/C offset printing press in 2004 with a front-end flexo coater to handle exotic coatings, such as titanium dioxide white, dispersion silvers, and pearls,” says Giusto. “Although small-format presses were being sold to do this at the time, no one had mastered their capabilities nor attempted it on a large-format press. Plus, original dispersion silvers were infrared-dried and not UV-cured. You’d lay down the silver first, try to print on it, and get an uneven mottled result due to the dispersion silver not being dry.”

So Giusto and his team converted the press to UV flexo. “We have a drying stub after the coater. We worked with Air Motion Systems, who manufactured the UV drying system and engineered the conversion,” he says. “Then we wanted to see if we could get UV silver to work because a large percentage of our work was done on foil. We wanted an environmentally friendly alternative, but we also wanted to give our customers the opportunity for cost savings. We knew that if we could get a dispersed silver to work, we could spot print it where needed, and that would save our customers money.”

Dennis Drummond, who is senior key account manager at Henkel, suggested the MiraFoil UV-curable silver dispersion. For six months, Giusto, Drummond, and Albert Lin, PhD, who is Henkel’s technical director, worked to perfect the process.

“We knew it could be done,” said Giusto, “but no one really knew how to do it. Harris & Bruno International  redesigned its pump and made the pumping system in the front end. And we had multiple changes with the MiraFoil—the viscosity, solid content, and the driability. All the effort was worth it, because the results were fantastic.”

“Curtis Packaging was the very first company to implement MiraFoil,” added Drummond. “John Giusto is very innovative and was open to the technology. They invested as we invested, and the partnership made it possible to fully realize this technology. Don Droppo Jr., senior vice president and one of the owners of Curtis, is also very innovative. The entire company is truly committed to sustainability.”

A way to mirror the import

In considering Godiva’s requirements of perfect gold at lower cost, Mike Simko, director of new business development at Curtis, thought they could come up with a way to mirror the imported paper for much less money.

Absolute quality and a seamless transition were equally important, and no one watched more closely than Massoud Mansouri, senior design director at Godiva. “My function is complex,” he said. “I focus on a triangle—quality, time, and price—and when it comes to quality, I look at it very carefully. I was concerned about the gold and also about the structure of the box. We wanted to be sure that the technology would deliver something that was close to our heart.”

Curtis delivered. “We were able to use far less expensive materials and achieve the same result with the MiraFoil technology,” said Simko. “The result is as good as the gravure-printed sheet, and in some respects it’s even better.”

Making it “even better” was the result of a combination of factors, according to Giusto. “We put down the MiraFoil to provide the silver base. Then we print transparent ink over the top. On top of that we lay an interference pearl coating. We make the mix ourselves. There’s some red, some copper, some gold, and regular pearl. The reflectivity you get mimics the gold product by gravure. We achieved an excellent Godiva gold with this process. It looks spectacular.”

Faster, shorter lead times

Godiva also realized reduced lead times. “The board they had been using had an 8- to 10-week lead time,” says Simko. “At Curtis, we get the 16-point SBS in a week or sooner and have the job on press within 10 days of the order. A regular foil board usually takes 3 to 4 weeks, and we can still beat that by 3 weeks.”

Drummond states that MiraFoil coatings are increasingly being used in offset, flexo, and screen printing applications. “They protect designs from in-use failures, such as rub-off, cracking, peeling, warp, and poor ink adhesion that are common with foil board, foil stamping, and silver inks.”

For Curtis customers, recyclability is increasingly important as well. “In the beginning, recyclability wasn’t a key driver, but now everyone is on the green bandwagon,” said Simko. “The MiraFoil technology saves having foil go into the waste stream. When the job is run, we kick out about 20% of the board in waste trim. But now it’s just SBS, and we recycle that.”

In the end, MiraFoil technology saved Godiva more than 30% compared to the expensive specialty paper. That’s important, but for Mansouri quality is paramount. “When I looked at the samples, they were very close to previous ones, if not better,” he said. “We never settle for less.”

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