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Nanography in the kitchen

Monday, 18 February 2013 | By Gerry Mulvaney


By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing

My old boss used to say that you have to have somewhere to go during the day – otherwise your wife or partner will find you something to do.  He was referring to going to work of course, but I am reminded of his old adage as I write this blog at my kitchen table, trying to avoid being asked to empty the dishwasher or feed the cat. I am actually working in the kitchen because I want to look at the range of packaging in the Mulvaney household as I prepare my presentation for the Packaging Innovations Conference at the NEC in Birmingham later this month.

Most of the time when we are in the supermarket, we give little or no attention to the packaging of the goods we are buying – unless it is damaged of course, in which case it goes back on the shelf. However when you start to take a professional interest in how your cornflakes or washing powder is wrapped, you start to see the inventiveness and creativity of the manufacturers.


Packaging exists to ensure we can get our purchases home in one piece and for many years a simple bag or a box fitted the bill. Apart from the manufacturers name and instructions for use, little else was conveyed on the outside. Today as I survey Mrs Mulvaney’s weekly shop I can see that it serves a much wider purpose. For a start everything is hugely colourful. Most of the packaging has got bright colours to attract your attention from the supermarket shelf as you pass by. There may be a picture of the actual product, in the case of biscuits and cakes or there may be a picture of the use to which you can put the product, as in the case of rice and flour. There may be pictures of happy children consuming the items like ice cream cones and pictures of contented cats on their pouches of food. Some of the packaging is designed to serve a purpose, such as wine boxes or pepper mills, with taps and grinders added to dispense the contents. Companies like Tetra Pak have made fortunes out of cardboard engineering and the inventiveness continues with re-sealable plastic containers and holographic labels.

My wife has a supermarket loyalty card and accumulates the points to help pay for the return of our children, eating us out of house and home during the Christmas holidays. It means today that the marketeers now know more about my wine or beer preferences than I do, resulting in very targeted offers arriving on a regular basis and incorporated into the offerings in the supermarket aisles. Everything I am looking at today in my kitchen is also barcoded and some of the more expensive items have got security coding built in.

So when I get to Packaging Innovations I am looking forward to hearing about what the big brands and supermarkets have got planned for Nanography®. Certainly the ability to economically produce much shorter runs, will mean packaging ranges designed for today’s modern households – singles and couples as well as those with families. I can see packaging more specifically targeted geographically, linguistically or demographically. I am expecting that they will want to make use of the broader range of substrates that Nanography will introduce. I am expecting that large scale digital production will introduce the economies that print on demand has brought in commercial printing. I also expect Nanography will create more opportunities to introduce security marking in high value items. I have learned already that once you explain how Nanography works, the innovators and creatives have a field day with the possibilities, so I am looking forward to hearing their ideas in Birmingham.

You will have to excuse me now – I am being summoned to hang out the washing.  My old boss was right – at least on the 27th and 28th February I will be spared the household chores.

Landa S10 - Printing Press