Ceramic Decorating / Columns

Ceramic Decorating: Glass Container Decorators Focus on Innovation

Glass container decorators are increasingly being asked to produce eye-catching, detailed designs to improve product marketability for their customers in the beverage and cosmetic markets. This trend has been partially motivated by a shift of marketers’ promotional dollars into packaging concepts that will attract customers at the point of purchase. To achieve innovative container designs, companies are increasingly using custom bottle designs, embossing, precious metals, organic sprays, color-change inks and other decorative applications.

This innovative Est¿Lauder perfume bottle won a Discovery Award in the cosmetic containers design category at SGCD's 2002 DECO show.


According to Lee Farlander, vice president of marketing at Vitro Packaging, Addison, Texas, there is a definite trend toward proprietary shapes in the wine and beer markets, where a unique container shape serves to distinguish a product from its competition. Uniquely shaped glass bottles in different colors also continue to debut in the “new age” and health beverage markets, helping give products such as Arizona Iced Tea a distinct identity.

In the cosmetic market, container design and decoration remain critical, given the importance of product image to sales. Unique bottle shapes and innovative decorative options are fairly common in this market, as illustrated by the Est?Lauder perfume bottle pictured above. This elegant container, screen decorated by the Art Deco Division of Pochet of America, Wayne, N.J., was recently honored with a 2002 Society of Glass and Ceramic Decorators (SGCD) Discovery Award in the cosmetic container design category.

Color Innovations

Precious metal decoration is popular for some container producers, both as a primary decorative feature and in combination with other decorative techniques. According to Brian Deszell, general manager at Custom Deco South, Orlando, Fla., precious metal usage for glass container decoration has increased as marketers seek to create an upscale image for their products.

Deszell also reports that bright and vibrant colors, as well as neon-colored sprays, have been popular container decorating options in the past year. He adds that organic sprays are popular when seeking to create a satin finish on a bottle and to cover up any glass imperfections.

Other innovations, such as color-changing inks, provide further options for container decorators. John Geurtsen, technical director of Avery Dennison Decorating Technologies, Framingham, Mass., emphasizes the versatility of color-change inks (also called thermochromic inks) on glass containers. He notes that while this technique had been primarily used on plastic promotional cups, manufacturers are effectively using thermochromic inks on glass containers as well. Color-change inks are activated by temperature changes on the glass surface, with words, colors, shapes and logos appearing on the label for added product visibility.

Other Effects

Some decorators are using medallions or embossed decorations to create an image of elegance and flair. Such techniques are generally used to decorate bottles for the upscale wine, liquor or fine cosmetic markets, where a higher retail price enables marketers to invest more to create a quality image for their products.

Unique bottle innovations have also been introduced to enhance product flavor. The Guinness Bass Import Co. recently launched its Guinness Draught in a Bottle (GDIB), which features a “rocket widget” that enables consumers to pour Draught Guinness from the bottle as if it were pulled from a tap. The “rocket widget” is a plastic device that floats freely in the bottle and releases a mixture of CO2 and NO2 each time the bottle is tipped to duplicate the taste of tap beer.

Transfer decorating applications also remain popular with container decorators applying intricate designs or working with unusually shaped containers. SGCD presented the 2002 Discovery Award for outstanding glass container design to D?r America/F.X. Leipold, Syracuse, N.Y., for saki bottles decorated with decals for LIPS. The unique container design was enhanced by a decorative decal application that was applied to the cylindrical body and the container’s base.

Glass container decorators will continue to use a wide variety of decorating techniques to enhance the appearance of their customers’ containers.

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