June 6, 2022

Packaging is the consumer’s first impression of the product or the brand entirely. While you’re thinking about how to make your packing more appealing, it’s crucial to consider more than just shapes and colors. Structural design is a key component in the packaging design process. Packaging design should represent your brand and its values, help your product stand out on the shelves, enhance the value of your brand, and deliver a memorable unboxing experience for the end user.

Imagine you are at your local drug store shopping for shampoo, you typically buy the same brand every time, but something catches your eye- a new brand of shampoo. It’s made out of all the same ingredients, so what makes this one so special? It’s in a better container, it must perform better, right? Maybe it does, but it’s the packaging this shampoo is housed in that drives you to purchase the new shampoo instead. 

What is Structural design?

Structural design is the “Bone and Muscle” of a package; a process of engineering custom packaging structures it must protect, unitize, and convey the intended use of the product. Packaging design becomes a silent salesman for commercial products- the packaging helps to sell based on look and feel as opposed to the contents of the package. Structural design gives organizations the freedom to create custom structures that passively sell products without being locked into certain size requirements you would find with stock packaging. 

How does structural design impact packaging?

Structural design is the hub of packaging: salesmen bring clients in, clients describe their needs and then the structural design process comes into play. All pre preparation before production is part of the structural design process and it takes a dedicated and knowledgeable team to walk clients though it, making recommendations and improvements throughout.

The Structural Design Process

  1. A client will come to us with an existing or new product and ask us to design a comprehensive packaging solution to house this product or products.
  2. Sometimes structural design emerges from an engineering based need where an organization needs to protect fragile components. Other times a structure needs to be compliant such as packaging for the cannabis or medical industries. Conversely structural packaging can be used to simply assist an organization sell their product, where creativity and design are the most important factors.
  3. Utilize computer aided design (CAD) to engineer the product before it is manufactured, Superior even possesses 3D modeling capabilities where purchasers can view a sample of their product digitally before samples are even produced.
  4. Computer aided machining (CAM) is used to process pinpoint structural samples for testing the fit of a product and what the finished product will look like physically.
    1. Structural samples are also a sales aid because a sales team can use these generic or custom branded structures to help them sell
    2. On occasion the samples will also need to undergo package testing where samples are sent to a testing lab for rigorous ASTM testing
  5. Once the client approves the samples the dielines are created for a graphic designer to lay their art into the approved structural sample
  6. From there we can create hard tooling for the multitude of production equipment Superior utilizes in order to produce the finished product

What are the Benefits of Structural Design?

Having a Staple Part of Your Brand:

It may not seem like it, but the box your product comes in is just as important to the consumer as the product- your package should be unique. Take Tiffany and Co. for example, when you see the Tiffany blue box your mind instantly thinks of their luxury brand. Consumers save these boxes because it represents more than the product itself, it represents a keepsake and reminds customers of their experience first receiving the product. Having a memorable part of your packaging can increase the value of your brand.


Packaging design can also incorporate practical aspects or uses to enhance the overall customer experience. For example a package of cannabis pre-rolls that incorporates space to house a lighter or matches, ensuring everything the user needs comes in a singular container.

Feel Factor:

There is nothing more exciting than being a kid and running down stairs to see all your presents on Christmas morning. This is the kind of feeling you want your consumers to feel when unboxing your product, ensuring a memorable moment that extends past the initial impression of your brand. Apple is famous for this, creating the perfect box for building up the excitement of opening their products. 


It’s not just colors and shapes that help you stand out on the shelves. Innovative companies like Superior offer a number of additional post press services that vastly enhance the look, feel and perception of your product. These services include die cutting, laminating, spot UV, foil, embossing, debossing and many more services that can elevate your product to jump off the shelves.

Unique Design: 

When staring at a shelf of square boxes full of the same product, it becomes hard to differentiate.  Now consider a shelf full of square boxes and one hexagonal shaped box, that hexagonal box is going to stand out more to the consumer, and could be the deciding factor to purchase this product over the others.  

Unique Packaging
Unique Packaging


A huge trend that has emerged over the last decade is companies shifting to a more environmentally friendly approach. A company being environmentally conscious is even a determining factor on whether a customer makes a purchase or not, this trend is especially prevalent among younger consumers. Today there is an increasing number of eco-friendly materials for your packaging which is something important to consider on your next project. 

User Oriented Design: 

Designing packaging around the products intended use is always a benefit to consumers. If a process can be simplified for customers by an organization’s packaging, customers will be more likely to purchase as it will make their lives easier. One recent example is Tides’ eco box, this box not only contains less plastic than previous packaging iterations, but also eliminates the need to pour detergent into the cap as the package contains a spout on the side.

Perfect Fit:

If your product is going to be shipped, is easily breakable, or a high value item; a custom package to fit that product specifically is extremely important. Not only can this alleviate customer frustration and complaints, it can also save your organization time and money by avoiding dealing with damaged products.


September 23, 2021

When it comes to binding styles there are numerous options for your next book but what do they each mean? One of the more complex bindery methods- Smyth Sewing- is often considered as the premier choice, noted as ‘library quality’ due to its enhanced durability and lay-flat properties. 

How Does Smyth Sewing Work?

The concept of machine sewn books dates back to 1871 when David McConnel Smyth obtained his first patent; however, in 1882 the Smyth Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut began production of the first sewing machines- changing bookbinding technology forever. The process to bind smyth sewn books begins with ‘signatures’, these signatures are large sheets of printed paper which are then folded into groups of anywhere from 8 to 32 pages. Signatures are then individually stitched together using a cotton covered nylon thread, with each folded signature sewn to the next by multiple needle and thread stitches down the length of the signature. These sewn signatures create a complete book block which is then glued into a paper cover or a hardcover case. Due to the high levels of automation in processes, machinery senses if a signature is missed or if a thread or needle is broken- leaving very little room for error and ensuring a high quality result.

Benefits of Smyth Sewing

Smyth sewing has numerous benefits compared to other binding styles, with the most commonly cited being its durability. Because the pages are stitched together they are able to withstand years of wear and tear, unlike adhesive bound books where glue may begin to deteriorate after repeated use. Another important benefit of smyth sewing is the flexibility and strength of the bind. Smyth sewn books lay flat when opened, making them perfect for cookbooks, sketchbooks and notebooks; additionally, this binding style is designed to display the entire page when opened, ideal for music, art, and architectural books.

While many may think of Smyth Sewing as an expensive option it can actually assist in reducing certain costs associated with materials and labor. Digitally printed sheets can be turned into signatures and then into Smyth sewn book blocks at high speed, made possible by Superior’s Universe Sewing Machine. This machine will feed single sheets, score, fold, nest, gather and then stitch, eliminating multiple steps.  While predominantly used on short runs, Smyth sewn digital print jobs generate several hidden benefits.  Because grain direction is less critical with Smyth sewn books, sometimes it is possible to get a better imposition with cross-grain paper- reducing the cost of a job compared to adhesive binding. Lastly, because books finish Smyth sewing as separated units, Superior does not require slip sheets or hand sorting of loose sheets. 

Incorporate Smyth Sewing On Your Next Project

Superior Packaging and Finishing has operated in the bindery space for over 30 years, developing and executing projects for thousands of organizations, publishers, and authors. Our state of the art, master Smyth Sewing technologies from Meccanotecnica increase productivity while ensuring the highest degree of quality and craftsmanship. Superior’s advanced equipment and high levels of automation make Smyth sewing surprisingly affordable, be sure to talk to a Superior Bindery specialist and consider Smyth sewing for your next book project!


August 26, 2021

Printing technologies such as variable print and print-on-demand have opened up new doors to personalized products and an enhanced customizable experience. Personalization has not only become a major trend but an expectation for customers. At Superior we always aim to forecast and capitalize on emerging print industry trends, providing top-level service to clients and partners alike. Superior is well suited and equipped to execute various projects for personalized products. Our investments in state-of-the-art technology and machinery provide us with the opportunity to offer limitless personalization opportunities. 

Driving Customer Satisfaction

With the rapid emergence of personalized products on the market, there is some level of expectation for personalization from customers because it leaves them feeling valued. Personalization allows a business to differentiate its products from competitors or similar finished goods, creating a value add for these products. Certain aspects of personalization lead consumers to feel as if the product they are investing in is unique and personal, which helps bridge a meaningful connection between the brand and customer. A positive customer experience has a direct correlation with a businesses success. The positive experience generates 20% higher “customer-satisfaction rates, which also generates customer loyalty, contributing to an increase in average customer value. It’s a win, win! 

An example that puts the value of personalization into perspective is Superior’s collaboration with well-known media publication Tasty (a division of Buzzfeed). Tasty wanted to develop a custom, personalized cookbook and requested the cookbook be designed, launched, and ready to sell by Black Friday. This left Superior with 30 days to execute the unique project. Due in large part to our advanced programmatic processes, we were able to comfortably meet that deadline. Superior collaborated with Tasty to create an algorithm which prompted customers to select 7 (of 20 possible) meal choices, generating 50 recipes (of 120 total), resulting in 15 trillion possible options. Every cookbook was created entirely from what each customer selected, discouraging any two from being the same. The personalized custom cookbooks reached over $1 million in sales during the first month of launch. 

Fully Customized Tasty Cookbook

Personal Preference

Research has concluded that 80% of consumers are more likely to buy a product from a business that provides them with a personalized experience. Similarly, when consumers were asked if they would prefer to wait for more personalized products coming from smaller companies; opposed to receiving a product fast from a company such as Amazon,  74% of them said that they would rather wait for personalized products from the smaller companies. Not only do consumers prefer waiting for a personalized product, but when consumers feel like a business has successfully provided them with a personalized product or experience, they are likely to shop for the brand three times more frequently. This aids in facilitating a relationship with a customer that encourages not only repurchasing but also a sense of satisfaction, pride and joy. 

With the proper technologies and a knowledgeable team, adding an element of personalization to a project can be quite simple. From a strictly business standpoint, the advantage of personalization is that it allows businesses to up-charge for a custom product, when very minimal change is needed during the manufacturing process. In some cases, a job might only require one item or part of a product to change in order to create an element of personalization. At Superior, we have the experience, resources, and technology to successfully execute adding any degree of personalization to a product. We have the capability, skill, and machinery to work with all types of printed products and binding styles, such as photobooks, gift books, mailers, candles, and countless other printed goods. Superior technological capabilities provide our organization with the tools to transform basic, static printed products into complex variably printed goods with endless levels of personalization.


July 13, 2021

With over 30 years of experience in the bindery space, Superior continuously identifies the latest and greatest trends to make your next bound project stand out. Our binding experts are the most knowledgeable in the North East, assisting our customers in pinpointing the perfect binding style for their unique project. As things ramp up and we enter peak season we have identified a number of trends in the bindery space over the past year for bookmakers, publishers, and other customers to consider.


Often bound with spiral, wire-o, or adhesive- notebooks have seen a resurgence over recent years with a number of practical applications. Primarily used as journals, planners, logbooks and diaries they allow the user to maintain detailed accounts of both personal and work life. Journals can also be beneficial for mental health as they assist users in gaining more control over their emotions, allowing them to track thoughts and feelings. Many companies have added journals to their product line as a way to increase average customer value due to their ease of production and low warehousing costs. Innovative printers like Superior also have the capabilities to personalize notebooks, further facilitating a connection with the end user. 

Unique One-Off Projects:

Innovative companies and their marketing departments often turn to printers for unique binding projects catered to a new product launch or to introduce a new product line. The same can be said for books released for an art show or to commemorate an event. These unique projects are designed to exude an emotion, feeling, or look that is associated with a brand or event. Utilizing specialized printing and binding techniques gives an identity to your brand or product that customers will instantly recognize. 

Jeep Wrangler Book
Jeep Wrangler Book


The print and binding market is dynamic and as such print and bindery operations must respond quickly and efficiently to changes in customer buying habits. One glaring shift in these markets is the shift towards personalized, print on-demand products. Photo books, gift books, and stories can all be personalized to the end users exact specifications with print on demand, leaving them with a much more meaningful, custom product. Available in nearly any binding style these personalized products not only command a higher price point, but also leave customers with an enhanced sense of loyalty to the brand- increasing customer value and loyalty. These user focused and designed keepsakes are often cherished for a lifetime so it is important to consider a binding style with durability that can withstand the test of time.

Sewn Binding:

Sewn binding has withstood the test of time both literally and figuratively. One of the oldest binding methods, sewn binding offers durability and a recognizable look that screams quality compared to adhesive binding. Whether it is smyth sewn, singer sewn or hand sewn, this binding method emanates hand-made quality due to the nature of the bind making it the perfect choice for creatives. Sewn binding is becoming more and more popular for use in lookbooks, catalogs, and event booklets.


March 8, 2021

In the past 5 years printing and packaging companies have seen a significant trend in print buying habits, shifting more and more towards sustainability each year. With concerns specifically around plastics, customers are increasingly more conscious about the products they are buying, how they are manufactured, and the sustainability efforts taken. For many consumers this is becoming a crucial factor in the buying process- driving printers to develop, identify and utilize environmentally sound substrates and practices. In certain markets with specific demographics; such as cosmetics, ecological packaging and materials may even be the deciding factor in a purchase decision- as younger consumers are even more keen on shopping ‘green’.

Superior Packaging and Finishing has undertaken a number of changes to our practices in order to become more environmentally conscious; with our largest being an investment in a custom built waste aggregator and compressor. In the printing industry excess materials account for a majority of waste produced. With much of this material being paper- Superior saw this as an opportunity to develop a comprehensive recycling program with partner Northstar Pulp & Paper. Our one of a kind recycling system takes excess waste and scrap, shreds it into particles, then compresses the waste material into a disc. These discs can then be fully recycled and introduced back into the supply chain as raw materials, ultimately producing new recycled substrates. Over the past year our program has saved over 25,000 trees, 8.5 million kWh of electricity, 1,500 tons of CO2, 10.5 million gallons of water and nearly 150,000 ft of landfill space.

Superior Recycling Data
Superior Recycling Data

Superior Packaging and Finishing additionally has always been ahead of the curve in regards to environmentally sound printed goods and packaging, offering a wide range of recyclable and plastic free substrates. Superior purposefully seeks out suppliers who utilize environmentally sound practices, determined by a variety of industry certifications. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative certification ensures suppliers are practicing sustainable forestry on all land they manage, these suppliers also influence millions of additional acres of land by working with loggers and foresters to develop best in class management practices. Another certification Superior seeks out from suppliers is the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Suppliers with PEFC certification work throughout the entire forest supply chain to promote sustainable practices, ensuring forests are harvested and managed using the highest ecological, social, and ethical standards. The final certification we seek from suppliers is from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC independently tracks, traces and identifies wood fibers from the forest through every step of the procurement, manufacturing, and printing process ensuring the chain follows rigorous control, management and reporting practices. Superior is constantly invested in identifying new environmentally sound product lines, and are proud to introduce EcologicalFibers latest plastic free range of Book Cover material- Rainbow 3. Offered in 4 high quality decoration lines, this plastic free cover material is sure to make your next project sophisticated and unique while keeping the environment at the forefront. The Rainbow marble line features a marble pattern and is offered in 5 different colors, producing the appearance of shiny minerals in vivid colors, ideal for a classy yet unique look. The Rainbow wood grain line exudes the look of natural wood; enhanced with a specialized embossing- this cover line displays the look and feel of real wood without the manufacturing difficulties and unsightly edges. The third new line offered by Rainbow- Lumina, features a pearlescent top coat, providing a lustrous shimmer without the use of plastics or petroleum products. Lastly, Rainbow’s essex line is a perfect option for packaging, covers, and endleafs, putting forward the appearance of woven textile. Whether you are seeking out environmentally friendly packaging, print or anything in between you can be sure Superior Packaging and Finishing is your eco-friendly choice. Contact us today to speak with a professional to discuss your next eco-conscious project.