Soft Touch Laminate Is a Packaging Design Trend

 

soft touch laminate

 Soft Touch Laminate is the Material Everyone Wants

 

I went to our Design Team to get a professional’s response to the question, “What are the current trends in packaging design?” I got more than one blank stare. Nothing worse than a question being greeted with silence! But then came the counter-inquiries: Do you mean trends in liquor packaging? Trends in direct mail? Trends in couture invitations?  Trends in premium luxury goods?  I was politely reminded that trends are often very industry specific. I just hadn’t been precise enough for their laser pointer discernment. “No,” I said, “what is the thing that everybody wants?”

And its three simple words people: soft touch surfaces.  Maybe you know it by the name “soft touch coating”, or  “soft touch lamination” or you’ve heard of “silk lamination film”— my favorite name so far is “liquid velvet”—but this sheet finish by any other name is just as sweet.

For those of you who don’t already know, soft touch laminate basically feels like the softest suede-velvet hybrid known to man; in a word, soft.  In addition to feeling like a cherub’s cheek, soft touch laminate is actually a hyper-matte surface finish.  This renders your bright and neon colors even brighter and your blacks even deeper than a typical matte varnish, which still has a slight reflective sheen. When it comes to creating high contrast embellishments, the super-matte soft touch laminate is the perfect surface for creating those sublime tone-on-tone looks.  Whether you use gloss UV or foil stamping the results are stunning.

From a design perspective, it’s pretty clear that soft touch laminate is a “must have” finish. Brighter-brights and higher contrast prints are eye-catching and what is the mission of packaging but to bring attention and create distinction?  The soft touch aesthetic is making itself heard across the design spectrum; witness current matte trends in many areas of design; from the rampant popularity of matte suede in this season’s fashions, to matte finish luxury vehicles, to one writer at InStyle claiming, “Go Matte or Go Home” when it comes to lipstick this year.

But soft touch is more than a look; it is a feel too!!  Our head designer Ken pulled out a few soft touch laminate sample packages off the racks, and I got it right away. What could possibly feel more extravagant than a suede-coated box? The answer is probably nothing… except maybe real leather (which by the way, we can do for you!). So its no surprise that you’ll find soft touch laminate on premium fashion houses such as MaxMara and jewelry house Swarovski.  You will also find soft touch in black showing up on super-premium tech products from audio to computers.

Variety is important and we have several stock lines of “soft touch paper” available from our supply partners. Soft touch paper is a somewhat less intense version of the laminate that can be found everywhere from Calvin Klein perfume boxes to certain premium smart phone packaging.  Our favorite papers include Matador by Ecological Fibers and Mano, Senzo and Nuba all by FiberMark.  There are some other contenders from Europe and Asia, but availability is an issue.

If you want to know more about projects we’ve done with this amazing covering material, head over to our web showcase; or give us a ring at 1-800-304-6361 to get started on your next packaging project.  Today is the perfect day to work with our design and engineering team to build a memorable brand experience for your customer!

 

  1. Does soft touch laminate reduce scratches, etc.??
    And, what % of a cost increase is it, roughly, than standard laminate?

    • Hi Sonny,
      There are a variety of soft-touch options. For printed substrates, there are soft touch varnishes/coatings or sheet laminates. For solid color wraps, there are soft-touch cover materials in stock and custom colors from producers like Neenah and Ecological Fibers. Depending on the design needs and function of the package, we would suggest a solution (ie. certain materials perform better for foil stamping, others are easier to glue or fold).

      As for scratching; because soft touch is hyper matte, a drawback can be that scratches and fingerprints become more visible than a standard matte surface. This is highly dependent on whether there is a pattern or decoration, and the color (eg. black tends to show marks more fingerprints than white), was well as the structure/function of the package.

      As for cost; Soft touch is a premium effect, so whether you choose a laminate/varnish over printing or a stock cover material, the cost will be higher than standard laminate or an uncoated cover material.
      How much more is dependent on the choice of material and scope of the project. I have reached out to our printer for a rough percent increase, and will post later today when I hear from her.

      If I can answer any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at marken@taylorbox.com

      Best,

      Marken

  2. Does Soft Touch packaging contain latex? It usually feels a bit rubbery…

    • Hi Grace,

      It does have a very unique tactility. It can be a little confusing because the Soft Touch effect can be accomplished through a number of methods (and full disclosure, we aren’t chemists!):

      1.) A proprietary cover stock like Touche or Mano, which may contain latex, we are not sure.

      2.) A laminate, which would most often be made of nylon.

      3.) An aqueous coating, which are made from vegetable cellulose.

      Did you have a particular use-case you were interested in?

      Thanks for your great question!

      TBC

      Patrick Hughes
      Reply

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