It is often said that many consumers do not really give packaging much consideration unless it fails to live up to expectations. They take its roles of promotion, protection and preservation for granted. Caps and closures are a good example – and significantly it is sometimes the case that they are also taken for granted within the packaging industry itself. There is usually much focus on the design of a container, its looks and functionality. However, with many packs taking a standard neck size, the choice of closure can become something of an afterthought.
Nevertheless, the role of the closure is crucial to the success of a pack. After all, difficulty in opening is a common consumer frustration with packaging. Precision manufacturing is therefore required to ensure each closure provides a perfect fit to prevent leakage and ensure product integrity while still delivering ease of opening and reclosing; any type of dispensing closure has to offer controlled, accurate and mess-free dosing.
CAP IT ALL
Aesthetically, a cap has an equally significant role. Contrasting or matching colours with the main container, multi-colour printing, and the personalisation of the closure through the incorporation of logos or other designs all help to establish and enhance brand identity and on-shelf appeal. Modern and more contemporary designs are being introduced to complement new pack shapes, while the ability to manufacture some closures in the closed position provides a more compact look. Intricate designs and advanced decoration techniques such as electroplating, and lacquered and metallised finishes, enhance the premium image that is vital for success in the cosmetics and perfumery sector.
Caps and closures manufacturers have continued to innovate in the development of new solutions to match changing trends and developments in numerous end-markets. The silicone valve, for example, has been one of the most significant innovations in closure design over the last 30-years, offering flow-control, controlled and precise dosing, and stay-clean performance while ensuring product protection.
Closures have been developed for headstand packs in markets as diverse as sauces and shampoos, enabling contents to be accessed and dispensed more easily and efficiently down to the last drop.
For maximum functionality, raised areas for improved grip on screw-closures, and ergonomically-designed thumb tabs for easy and intuitive one-handed opening of flip top caps, deliver enhanced consumer convenience. For sports drinks, the ability of a closure to open to a full and stable 180° provides easy and comfortable access for the consumer to drink from. An audible click feature confirms that a cap is either fully opened or re-closed.
Tube applications have seen the introduction of the hinge tube closure (HTC) as an alternative solution to the more traditional screw-on caps. HTCs offer the convenience of one-handed opening, and the fact that the closure remains on the container means it cannot be accidentally misplaced.
Technical innovations have seen the introduction and continued enhancement of tamper-evident and child-resistant closures, which provide valuable consumer reassurance as to the safety and integrity of particular products. This helps to enhance overall brand image. For our recently introduced Secure Flip sports closure, the innovative Tuck Under tamper-evident band has overcome the problems usually associated with creating tamper evidence for lightweight neck finishes.
A CAP ON WEIGHT
Today, of course, the environment and sustainability considerations are an essential part of any packaging decision; and as with all areas of plastic packaging, sustainability has always been a core area of caps and closure design. Lightweighting of caps has been a driving force in development work for many years. For example, at RPC we have achieved lightweight solutions with as much as 40% weight reduction. Importantly, these savings have been delivered with no loss of functionality or capping performance, ensuring closures remain fully fit for the purposes intended.
Another innovation for our Secure Flip closure has been the introduction of the Sustainable Tamper-Evident Band. Like a traditional tamper-evident band this breaks on the first opening of the closure. However, unlike other sports caps which feature a detachable tab which then has to be thrown away or in many instances simply dropped on the floor, both parts of the Secure Flip band remain with the closure.
From aesthetics to functionality, the closure plays a big part in the success of any pack; and if no one notices this, then it is simply doing its job very well!