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.


December 16, 2021

Ever wondered how to make your printed project stand out from the competition and jump off the shelves to customers? Apart from an organization’s marketing efforts and selling points the best way to easily differentiate your printed products to get an edge over the competition is with embellishments. Embellishments are the individual decorative aspects of a larger printed piece that draw attention to certain areas of the print which are deemed important, or they can be used to create a more visually stunning printed piece. When implemented effectively by experienced craftsmen, embellishments can convince customers of the quality, care, dedication and attention to detail your organization provides its customers. Embellished pieces can also command a higher price point depending on the nature of the product, due to its luxurious look and feel.

There are various types of embellishments which can be employed in a number of diverse ways on your printed products. While some embellishments may be very obvious and jump off the print, others can remain more subtle and powerful. With nearly limitless possibilities and combinations of finishing techniques here are the major styles traditionally used:


Foil Stamping:

Digital foil stamping consists of applying a hot stamping foil, adhered to the printed piece with an ink or varnish. Since this finishing technique does not require a die, it provides greater flexibility in terms of personalization and can be used on a wide variety of run lengths without issues.


Embossing is the process of creating a die (a personalized metal plate engraved with the image you want to emboss) and utilizing stock (any number of paperboard materials). The die is then pressed onto the stock in a fashion similar to a stamp and the extreme pressure slightly raises the image on the stock. This creates a 3D effect that emphasizes a particular area of the design.


Debossing is almost the opposite of embossing where an image is raised into the die and then imprinted on the print piece, creating an indented effect. While debossing and embossing embellishments are created in a somewhat similar fashion, the visual result is drastically different.

Spot UV:

Spot UV involves a clear, shiny coating which is applied to specific areas of a printed piece, as opposed to coating the entire surface. The outcome is a spectacular contrast between the uncoated matte areas and the shiny UV coated areas which reflect light. Ideal for highlighting specific eye-catching aspects of your printed piece.

Coating and Laminating:

Coating and lamination refer to the processes in which pressure and heat are utilized to adhere a thin layer of plastic (also referred to as laminate) to a paper or card stock. Coating and laminating are primarily used to provide customers with an altered tactile experience; however, these processes also offer a higher vibrancy to printed color gamut and offer additional protection from the elements. 

Die Cutting:

While die cutting can be used in various stages of the print manufacturing process it can also be utilized as an embellishment feature. This process utilizes a steel cutting die to cut thin stock materials into a certain shape. Using unique shapes and cuts can peak customers’ attention, give a look at the product inside your packaging, or to create unique art aspects which could not be achieved with other methods. 


Sleeking is an on-demand foil stamping solution primarily applied to short-run digital print. Unlike foil stamping there are no dies needed for sleeking which allows for amazing special effects while remaining budget friendly in some cases. Sleeking technology can apply a simple finish such as gloss or mate, a metallic background such as gold or silver, or even a full coverage to create a unique, brilliant piece.


Superior’s Latest Technologies:

Superior Packaging and Finishing has always strived to be a leader in the print finishing space by incorporating the latest in custom printing technology. In 2021 we have added two new machines to further our commitment in providing our customers with the widest range of services and customization imaginable. 

Autobond FL 106 Thermal Laminator:

Superior’s latest acquisition- the Autobond FL 106 Thermal Laminator- is utilized primarily as a 1 or 2 sided sheet-fed, thermal film laminator for long runs. This laminator operates with a maximum sheet size of 106 x 106 cm and a minimum sheet size of 28.5 x 32 cm, with a max speed of 394 ft/min. This machine was custom built specifically for Superior Packaging and Finishing, our version features additional rollers to increase coating stability and durability, made possible by increased roller surface area. Our version also features a rewind roller with pressure sensitive laminate capabilities, ideal for plastics and outdoor signage due to this process being heatless. 

This machine also greatly increases the productivity and effectiveness of sleeking jobs because of its ability to print to the edge of a sheet. While not used for every job, sleeking on this machine is good for projects with lots of colors, specialty items, or items with immense detail due to the fact multiple custom colors can be achieved with one pass. This machine also offers increased scuff resistance when compared to foil board and can achieve much cleaner cuts even with heavier paper.

MGI Jetvarnish 3D Evo
MGI Jetvarnish 3D Evo

MGI Jetvarnish 3D Evo:

Another recent acquisition by Superior is our MGI Jetvarnish 3D Evo, coined ‘the next generation digital enhancement machine’. With the ability to coat up to 3123 sheets per hour this machine employs the Artificial Intelligence SmartScanner to create an automatic varnish and hot foil registration for inkjet heads over the preprinted sheet. This machine can provide multiple variations of makeready samples in as little as 5 minutes, offering over 2,000 texture options which can be applied anywhere on the sheet. Furthermore; Superior can take any aspect of the preprinted image, select it, and create our own textures with that segment of the preprinted sheet. This machine also possesses the ability to run variable print, keeping lines sharp and ensuring consistency across variable units. Due in part to our close-knit relationship, MGI is developing textures specifically for Superior and its clients which can be expected in the near future.