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How to design a valuable metal packaging

by Alex Cosper
October 25, 2019

Metal packaging is among the safest solutions for preserving a food or cosmetic product. It's also eco-friendly since it's recyclable and it's economical because it's lower cost than other packaging materials. Here are essential points to remember about designing metal packaging. 

Materials 

The materials used in metal packaging matter because they must be able to resist rust and corrosion. Aluminum and tinplate fit this criteria and have additional favorable manufacturing qualities as well, such as being lightweight, yet strong and durable. Both of these metals are reliable at protecting food products from various environmental forces, such as bacteria, moisture and light. 

What's particularly useful about aluminum is its strength as a barrier. Aluminum protects food in many forms, from cans to boxes. It's possible to add a seal within a lid to make it more air-tight and further extend the shelf life of food products. Consumers favor metal packaging containers due to the instant associations with strength and durability. A growing number of consumers are also aware of aluminum's sustainability, giving it a modern, clean image. 

The growth of global metal packaging is happening at a rapid pace, as the market is expected to reach $141 billion by 2022, according to Zion Market Research. Meanwhile, the global micro packaging market is also growing quickly, providing secure layers made of various materials including metal. Micro packaging comes in the form of pouches, bags, trays, cartons and other items. The more nanomaterials are used in packaging, the more demand will increase for micro packaging. 

Demand for tinplate also continues to grow, although to a lesser degree than aluminum. Some of the advantages of tinplate are its weldability flexibility to take on various shapes. Metal cans have a history in food marketing that goes back to the early nineteenth century. Its applications have grown from packaging wine to a wide range of foods, as its future appears to be here to stay. 

Shapes

Packaging comes in various shapes, from round to square and rectangular. Special shapes such as triangular cones and octagons are possible for modern packaging, as much of it comes down to consumer research and the designer's imagination. Multiple studies have shown that shapes play a major role in consumer choice on a subconscious level. Each individual makes their own unique associations with shapes, which also help define the image consumers have of products.

Consumers respond to angularity and alignment of shapes, with favorability toward round shapes and upward orientation of shapes, according to a 2013 study published by Elsevier. The study further found the droplet shape could provide positive opportunities for designers. 

Closures

A package needs closures to ensure that it's sealed. Examples include slips, screws, hinges, lean size-to-size styles and special closures. The hinge survives as a common solution for connecting a lid, cap, cover or plug with a box while preserving food. Some of the popular closures for food packaging include press-twist, twist-off caps and standard continuous thread caps.

Aluminum closures work well as barriers that block out dirt, oxygen and moisture. With hinges and other connectors aluminum is useful for its ability to reclose and reuse the container. It's a material that can take on any shape, so it can easily be the basis of an innovative new closure style. Other attachments include threads, lugs, locks and adhesives. 

Effects

There are various effects that a designer can add to a package to attract attention, such as embossing letters to create a 3D effect. The green effect can be created by using smaller containers and lighter or less materials with an emphasis on recyclable materials. Informative effects that convey the manufacturer cares about sharing as much product information as possible connect with consumers who view themselves as deep researchers. 

The main concept to keep in mind regarding effects is to communicate the themes and emotions of the product without overwhelming the consumer with effects. When changing a metal package the designer must keep in mind the consumer's existing familiarity with the brand. Any attempt to create a closer connection with the consumer through packaging should take into account the consumer history with the product so that it remains familiar in a store. 

One of the drawbacks to metal packaging is that the consumer usually cannot see through metal, which calls for innovative designs with windows. Metal cans are typically coated with an organic layer for protection, which projects a safe, clean effect.

Colors

Regardless of the product, color adds life and can help it stand out. Packaging designers are constantly learning about how color plays a huge role in attracting consumers to a package. As with other packaging components, each individual has his or her own personal associations with colors, which connect with emotions. Bright colors tend to relate with happiness and excitement while soft green and blue are associated with earthy imagery and relaxation.

Color psychology has now become an essential part of marketing and branding. Various studies show that color is a factor among consumers when they choose what to purchase. That's why a packaging designer must use target market research to make sure he or she is using appropriate colors on the package. Some marketers believe that color is the most important trigger for consumer decisions. 

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Topics: Metal Packaging