Coatings Facilitate Creativity in Packaging Design

Innovative marketing idea: 3D triangle packaged color cans ranked on market shelves. New efficient packaging and stacking technology idea.

Packaging designs, along with consumer preferences, change each year. Just as carmakers adapt colors and special effects to reflect consumer tastes, so must packaging designs adopt new techniques and technologies to create looks that respond to consumer expectations. Coatings play a crucial role in achieving the aesthetics and haptic effects intended by modern packaging designs. So, it is no surprise that demand for specific packaging coatings shifts as new packaging designs emerge.

Packaging design trends in 2019 are a mix of adaptability, functionality, and simplicity, with an emphasis on sustainability. Topping the list of the desired packaging features is flexibility, which is driving increased use of flexible packaging for a growing range of consumer and food/beverage products.1 Advancements in production and materials have developed flexible packaging solutions with easy-to-use features, such as resealable food packages. Flexible packaging is also highly adaptable, lightweight, and recyclable, making it a sustainable choice.

Innovations in shape and construction are crucial when it comes to attracting the eye and providing protective functionality, longevity, and full product use.

Sustainability remains a priority in the packaging industry because consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of the goods they purchase—and that extends to the products’ packaging. Today’s consumers want packaging that is recyclable and/or biodegradable and produced using eco-friendly materials. So, while brands need to attract buyers’ attention through more personalized and unusual packaging designs, they must also use smarter or less packaging materials for shipping and transport, an issue that becomes more imperative as e-commerce continues to grow. To meet consumer expectations and lower transportation costs, packaging innovators are producing lightweight, adaptable options that use less material and help reduce fuel consumption.

The advancements in packaging designs also include a growing interest in vintage-inspired packaging—a trend that spans many product segments. The simple yet distinctive look and feel of retro-style packaging taps into the consumer nostalgia reflected in the resurgence of vinyl records and a renewed interest in 1980s television shows.

This return to simplicity influences other design elements as well. Some packaging designs are more streamlined and offer greater transparency, such as additional product information.2 Flat illustrations, which originated in printed materials, have migrated to minimalist packaging solutions with crisp, clean designs.3 Black and white, as well as neutral tones and pastels, are prominent in the minimalist themes, creating a sleek and sophisticated look. Subtle and bright gradients move from the background and into the overall designs, allowing the colors to stand out.2 Bold typography and geometric shapes are showing up as graphic elements, and some brands are experimenting with storytelling approaches. As for the physical packaging itself, innovations in shape and construction are crucial when it comes to attracting the eye and providing protective functionality, longevity, and full product use.

Assisting in the continuous evolution of packaging design are packaging coatings. Coatings add aesthetic, functional, and haptic elements to packaging that help create the visual and tactile experiences for the consumer. More important, coatings provide chemical and corrosion resistance and prevent contamination, which protects the integrity of product and ensures consumer safety. Among the resin technologies used in packaging coatings, epoxies are used most often, followed by acrylics, polyurethanes, polyolefins, and polyesters.4

The packaging coatings market, which includes coatings for all types of substrates, from paper to cans, sees significant growth as more packaging innovations enter the supply chain. Allied Market Research estimates the packaging coating market is expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.6% from $2.83 billion in 2016 to $3.865 billion by 2023.5 A report from Mordor Intelligence predicts the market will expand more rapidly at a CAGR of 5.12% through 2024.4

LEONHARD KURZ, part of the KURZ Group, is one coatings company contributing to the market growth with its developments in thin-film technology. At Luxe Pack Monaco 2019 in September, LEONHARD KURZ introduced “expressive packaging,” a concept the company says reflects the spirit and lifestyles of the times. “By offering a diverse selection of unusual patterns, we inspire designers and brand name manufacturers to break away from customary design patterns, to look at packaging design in a new way, and to rediscover the world of hot stamping technology,” the company said in a press release.6

The packaging coatings market, which includes coatings for all types of substrates, from paper to cans, sees significant growth as more packaging innovations enter the supply chain.

The “Box next to Box”  is a decorated drawer box that contains a trend collection with different themes: Archive celebrates the rediscovery of “old treasures and resources”; Supa Func focuses on efficiency, function, order, and structure; Black Mirror encourages “the contemplation of reflection and self-determination in times of omnipresent digitalization and artificial intelligence”; and Clearance reflects “the desire for true sustainability, new materials, and better consumer behavior.” To illustrate each trend, KURZ developed metallized-transfer products with surprising optical effects and unusual colors. One style features underprinted designs shining through translucent silver, a matte terra cotta, and a fluorescent orange. To complement the unique color motifs and optical effects, KURZ enhanced the tactile experience with textures and embossing using stamping die technology from its subsidiary, Hinderer and Mühlich.

KURZ also exhibited its new technology Trustseal SFX Mosaic, which uses holographic lenses confined within a strictly symmetrical arrangement to create striking contrasts and a multiple, repeating-depth effect.

Other companies are also exploring cutting-edge transfer technologies for packaging applications. Toray Plastics (America) made headlines in 2016 when it introduced Lumirror MR20, a polyester metal-transfer film. Lumirror MR20 transfers aluminum deposited on the film with adhesive to paper or paperboard packaging, producing a bright, reflective surface that can be used to create a luxurious look for mass-produced products.7

Also developing coatings in the luxury/specialty space is Diamond Packaging. It produces two metallic UV coatings as part of its Sustainable Chic line™: Liquid Metal™ and MiraFoil®. The company says the Sustainable Chic packaging coatings deliver “beauty without compromise” using advancements in converting technologies.8 A combination of flexo and offset printing creates the Liquid Metal effects, which Diamond Packaging touts as a more sustainable alternative to metallized substrates and foil stamping. Meanwhile, MiraFoil’s satin metallic effects are achieved through a process that Diamond Packaging says is “an economical, in-line alternative to film and foil laminates.” Diamond Packaging’s specialty coatings also include the award-winning DiamondGlitter and DiamondReticulate. DiamondGlitter is a shimmering finish that catches the eye, while DiamondReticulate’s subtle texture adds a tactile quality that engages the consumer.9

As the coatings industry continues to develop high-performance packaging coatings that both market and protect products, companies such as Diamond Packaging, KURZ, and Toray will continue to acknowledge consumer environmental concerns, emphasizing the sustainability best practices used to manufacture packaging coatings and products’ recyclability for the life cycle of the packaging.


  1. Haverfield, C., “5 Packaging Trends Emerging in 2019,” Packaging Design, March 18, 2019, (accessed Oct. 9, 2019).
  2. Williams, D., “Packaging Design Trends 2019: Innovations to Look Out For,” Packaging Gateway, March 18, 2019, (accessed Oct. 9, 2019).
  3. Lupus, M., “9 Inspiring Packaging Design Trends for 2019,” 99 Designs, (accessed Oct. 9, 2019).
  4. Mordor Intelligence, “Packaging Coatings Market—Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2019–2024),” Market Report Summary, (accessed Oct. 10, 2019).
  5. Allied Market Research, “Packaging Coatings Market by Type (Epoxy Thermoset, Urethane, UV-Curable, BPA Free, and Soft Touch UV-Curable & Urethane), Substrate (Metal, Rigid Plastic, Glass, Liquid Cartons, Paper-based Containers, Flexible Packaging, and Others), Application (Food Cans, Beverage Cans, Caps & Closures, Aerosols & Tubes, Industrial Packaging, Promotional Packaging, and Specialty Packaging), and End User (Food & Beverages, Cosmetics, Pharmaceuticals, Consumer Electronics, and Automotive Components)—Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2017–2023,” Market Report Summary, July 2017, (accessed Oct. 10, 2019).
  6. LEONHARD KURZ Stiftung & Co. KG, “Packaging as an Expression of Lifestyle,” Sept. 9, 2019, (accessed Oct. 10, 2019).
  7. McTigue, Pierce, L., “Metallized Film Transfers to Paperboard to Create Premium Packages,” Packaging Digest, Sept. 16, 2016,
    packages-2016-09-16 (accessed Oct. 10, 2019).
  8. Diamond Packaging, “Environmentally-Friendly Metallic Coatings,” (accessed Oct. 14, 2019).
  9. Diamond Packaging, “Diamond Packaging Wins Four Awards in 2019 Excellence Awards Competition,” Sept. 12, 2019, (accessed Oct. 10, 2019).

CoatingsTech | Vol. 16, No. 11 | November/December 2019

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