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Tubes of the Year 2005

etma competition “Tube of the Year 2005”
Creative ideas stimulate the tube industry

Packaging is a highly regarded tool of effective product marketing these days. Because of its omnipresence, it is an ever more important component in the communication mix of manufacturers of branded and trademark products. In fact, it is central to a successful customer-oriented marketing strategy. Besides the appealing appearance of a product, which determines a large part of consumers’ purchasing decisions, also the user friendliness and increasingly the safety of a product are in the centre of the buyer’s interest.

The “Tube of the Year 2005” competition staged this year by the European Tube Manufacturers Association (etma) provides excellent examples of technically sophisticated, appealing and convenient packaging that is easy to handle and assures brisk sales.

The competition covers tubes made of the three materials plastic, laminate and aluminium as well as a “Prototypes” category, which is unrelated to the material involved.

Tubex (Germany) captured first place honours in the “Plastic Tube” category for its Tom Tailor shower gel tube. The challenge was to integrate the plastic tube in a product family that combines feminine and masculine elements. The goal was to embody the spontaneity and light-heartedness of a couple in love. Analogous to the glass bottle and high quality foil-laminated carton already in use, the new tube had to reflect the same product traits. A delicate rose colour was chosen for the feminine tube version and a deep turquoise for its masculine counterpart. The difficulty in screen printing was to render the diagonal quadrant grid pattern in the shape of a sail being in line with the glass bottle in use. This task was accomplished on a new 6-color, register-true screen printer by using the latest reprographic techniques and by selecting suitable screen webs and coatings.

The viscosity and gliding properties of the screen printing inks had to be appropriately modified. As a classy closure to the tube, Tubex selected a snap-on flip top cap oriented to and colour-coordinated with the printing.  

First prize in the “Aluminium Tube” category went to TUSA (Switzerland) for an eye ointment tube with a special tamper-evident closure. The pharmaceutical industry is especially interested in safe packaging designs for highly sensitive products to assure maximum protection for consumers. The new tamper-evident closure featuring a flanged, 100 % tight plastic cannula is a remarkable innovation. It assures that the contents remain unadulterated and are safe to use. Aluminium also serves as an excellent barrier and thus provides optimum product protection. In accordance with the regulations of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the ring does not remain on the tube after the initial opening but detaches together with the cap. As a result, there is no chance of the ring falling into the user’s eye when he is applying the product. This avoids unnecessary injuries and unpleasantness. The system is available for aluminium tubes with diameters of 13.5 mm, 16 mm and 19 mm.

Top honours in the “Laminate Tube” category went to the IGORA hair dye tube, produced by Alcan Packaging Cebal (France). The product is a two-component hair dye that needs a tailored packaging design to meet its special formulation requirements. The packaging has a cleverly designed two-chamber system and tube head. These features ensure that the two components do not come into contact with each other prior to being squeezed out of the tube and that they are dispensed in an exact ratio of 1:3. The cloverleaf-shaped opening also creates a playful visual effect when the product is applied in stripes. The aluminium barrier layer in the laminate keeps the two components reliably separate in the tube and effectively prevents the penetration of light, oxygen or hydrogen.

An embossed aluminium tube from Tubex (Germany) was singled out for first prize in the “Prototypes” category for its unique look and feel. Here, the use of innovative production processes opened the way to new design possibilities such as logos, fonts and images with 3-D effects. The embossing gives the packaging a premium appeal and an unmistakable feel. As a result, the product is a real eye-catcher on the store shelf. The brand identity is expressed through these perceptible visual and tangible traits, which also make the product difficult to falsify. The embossing is thus a simple and cost-effective weapon against product piracy. Possible decorations include transparent, white or coloured varnishes and printing with up to 7 colours on a varnished and/or embossed tube shoulder.

The award-winning packaging in this year’s etma competition shows the immense creativity and designing talent of European tube manufacturers in 2005. The industry’s penchant for innovation and its technological potential have led to a remarkable synthesis of attractiveness and functionality, safety and consumer friendliness.

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