The Pouch Shop Packaging Dictionary: A Beginners Guide to Packaging Terminology & Phrases
THE POUCH SHOP- PACKAGING DICTIONARY
A beginners guide to packaging terminology & phrases
A traditional type of offset printing which involves custom-made imprints on metal cylinders. Each cylinder has the imprint for a specific colour from the artwork, which when combined and pressed onto film material creates the entire artwork design. The set up costs associated with gravure printing are high, but for large quantities of packaging, this type of print becomes a more economical option, and can give a greater breath of design features (such as different pouch designs, film finish combinations etc. ), as well as top tier print quality.
Similar to gravure, flexo involves custom-made imprints on metal plates and required a separate plate for each colour within an artwork. The set up costs of flexo printing are also high, but for large quantities of packaging (generally over 10,000), this type of print becomes a typically cheaper option. Due to a decrease 'dot-ratio' (almost like DPI on screens), flexo printing is generally of lesser- quality than gravure.
Think your home printer- but BIGGER! Digital printing has come a long way in the last few years, and now using top-of-the-range printers, you can obtain a high quality packaging product without the set up costs associated with gravure or flexo printing. It also means you can do multiple designs one after the other without changing machinery parts or waiting for plates to be made, which saves a lot of time and gets your product to the market faster. For first timers, it also gives a bit of a safety net, as design changes can be made after the first run if required, or trialled with a single printed mock-up before full production.
A Pantone Colour refers to a set, 'manual' of colours that have distinct codes and colour combinations, all of which are industry standard (every good printer has a Pantone book). Want the exact same blue on every print, every time? You can only get that level of colour matching with a Pantone! These are especially important for branding purposes- to the point that every major brand in the world has their own Pantone colour reference to ensure consistency.
CMYK- Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key (Black):
If you’re not using Pantone colours, you’re using a combination of CMYK! Each digital image on a screen or printed digitally uses a combination of tiny dots in these four colours (plus white, of course) to create the vast combination fo colours that we see. Just like when you zoom in really close to a picture and can see pixels, if you magnify a print of CMYK you’ll see the dots that make up an image. Even with Pantone colours, packaging print will still use CMYK in addition in order to create photo elements within the artwork.
Eyemark: An eyemark is a small, typically black or blue mark put on printed packaging film that indicates where a print repeat finishes, and is read by the machine in order to know where to slit the film.
Stand Up/ Doy Pouch (abbreviated SUP):
This classic style pouch features a bottom gusset that allows the pouch to stand on its own on the shelf (hence the name). They’re good for anything from snack foods, to coffee, to soup, hence their popularity on the supermarket shelf.
Flat Bottom Bag (abbreviated FB):
A newer addition to the pouch family, the flat bottom bag utilises a rectangular bottom gusset AND side gussets for a ‘boxy’ shape. Due to this, they provide a stronger shelf presence, and better packing functionality compared to the SUP. A lot of frozen seafood products and muesli brands are starting to use flat bottom bags for this reason.
Quad- Seal Bag (abbreviated QS):
Basically a flat bottom bag without the bottom gusset... The quad seal is a good option for heavier products, as they offer stronger seals than a flat bottom (but won’t stand upright on their own!). The bottom seal of the pouch generally curls back underneath the bag when filled (such as with big bags of pet food or bulk coffee bags).
Three-Side Seal (abbreviated 3SS):
The original pouch design! This pouch has no gussets, and is good for small quantities of product or typically ‘flat’ items. They’re either hung (like jerky and smoked salmon), or slotted into an external carton (like soup mix) to keep them upright as they do not stand on their own.
A spout pouch is typically a smaller style stand up pouch with a special spout closure which is used for pouring/consuming liquid products that are multi-use. They’re widely used for chilled baby food, flexible laundry detergent pouches, and sauce products.
A gusset is a section of film that goes between the front and back of a pouch. The more gussets/bigger the gussets, the deeper the pouch. A stand up pouch only has a gusset on the bottom, while a flat bottom pouch also has side gussets which provides a ‘boxy’ shape and more filling/printing space on the pouch.
A zipper closure is the re-sealing 'clip' inserted into many modern packaging pouches (like in a zip-lock sandwich bag) which allows consumers to open and close the packaging multiple times. It’s a must-have feature for many products that aren’t single-use only, and helps to preserve the product inside after opening.
Laser Score: When a pouch is laser scored, the top layer/s of film are weakened to provide an 'easy tear' from the tear notch.
Tear Notch: The proper term for the little holes that are punched out either side above the zipper closure, to allow for tearing off the top of a pouch for consumption.
People are often confused by this term, but metalised film isn’t the same as aluminium film! It is still metallic and silver in appearance, but more flexible than aluminium film, while providing a moderate barrier for many products.
Kraft Paper Film:
Kraft paper gives that traditional 'brown paper' appeal to packaging, but is laminated to an internal plastic layer to provide sealing and food barrier. (paper on its own doesn't give any shelf life!). Despite popular belief, kraft paper food packaging isn’t compostable or recyclable!
MOQ- Minimum Order Quantity:
Typically refers to the smallest quantity of goods one can order. At TPS, our typical MOQ for short-run digital printing is only 1000 pouches, with the ability to do a single product mock-up too! Overseas, factories generally require a MOQ of at least 10- 15,000 before they're willing to take an order.
SKU- Stock Keeping Unit:
Each product and product variety (including different sizes or flavours/colours) a brand owns has a different SKU, and helps distinguish it from all other products (these are linked to barcodes!). If you have multiple SKUs within a same size packaging category (for instance, 4 different flavours of muesli each in a 250g portion), we can digitally print the four different designs at once without the set-up costs of gravure or flexo printing.
FMCG- Fast Moving Consumer Goods:
You may have heard this term thrown around in the supermarket, and it basically refers to any low-cost, fast-selling product (think anything from chocolate bars to fruit juice).