One of the most common forms of packaging are cartons. Their designs are influenced by size, shape and strength requirements as well as marketing considerations such as how the brand would like their product to be displayed. The size of the packaging can be influenced by a number of different factors such as its purpose, for example if a product needs to be protected the packaging will need to be quite a precise fit so that it can’t move around the box too much, and will probably have some sort of inner packaging to hold it still. This inner packaging can also better position the product for display, particularly if there is a window to see the contents of the inner box. The shape of the box depends on what the product is but also serves as a good way to make the product more eye-catching. For example packaging of a more irregular shape is probably more likely to stand out on a shelf of regular square boxes.
Cartons can be made from a number of different materials. Solid bleach board is often used for cosmetics, pharmaceuticals or frozen foods. Folding boxboard is commonly used for food packaging. White lined chipboard are used for products where is doesn’t matter that the grey middle layers of the board show. Unlined chipboard is usually used for shoe boxes that are covered or decorated and corrugated board is used for outer transportation or warehouse packaging because its structure makes it much stronger.
Packaging can be treated in a number of different ways to make it more suitable for its product. Packaging that needs to be moisture resistant or heat sealable can be treated by polyethylene or wax. Or alternatively, laminated with aluminium foil to create a moisture resistant barrier. Clay coating can be used for a high gloss finish that reduces ink consumption and improves the quality of printing.
Designers employ different finishes such as foil blocking, varnishes, laminates, debossing or embossing and die cutting or laser cutting in order to influence the consumers opinion of the product so that it conveys the right message such as being of a higher quality, or having a more rustic feel to it.
In our project, we’ll be using glass bottles. Glass is a material that is capable of being moulded into a huge range of shapes and sizes. Its use is usually influenced by the product, for example pharmaceutical bottles need to be sterilised using steam and glass will retain its shape, unlike plastic which would distort if subjected to this treatment. While glass is mainly used for liquids, the safety of this needs to be considered. For example, it wouldnt make sense to use glass for things such as shower gels that are used in a wet, probably slippery environment. In terms of using glass for packaging beverages, the material suggests a much higher quality than those packaged in plastic bottles or cans.
Finally when deciding on materials for packaging, it is important to consider the environmental factors – is it possible to used recycable or recycled materials? According to an article in Communication Arts (September/October 1999) packaging makes up to one third of waste in the US and one quater of this is filled with unrecycled plastic containers. Nowadays, companies are realising that landfills cant keep being filled with more and more waste and manufactures have been responding to the demand of materials that are good for the environment. Of course, the transportaton and manufacturing of packaging also needs to be factored into this, will the packaging use up a lot of energy in this process? Designers can try to play their part in helping the environment by being aware of the materials available and by trying to influence their clients choice of materials.