The tactile feel of what’s referred to as “Soft Touch” has become ever more desirable in the prestige health and beauty market - with market applications expanding to home products as well as food and beverage packaging. There are three common methods used to achieve the soft touch aesthetic on primary packaging components; including but not limited to the following:
An interior PE layer and an exterior “Soft Touch” layer are co-extruded during the extrusion blow moulding (EBM) process. This provides a flat/matte aesthetic and tactile feel to the blow moulded component straight out of the mold. In this case the component can be molded with added pigments to achieve an all-over soft touch look in the desired color that is ready for decoration and secondary process. This capability is only available through certain manufacturers with co-extrusion heads on their EBM production platforms and typically requires minimum orders of 50,000 units. The co-extrusion process is only available for PE extrusion blow moulded components such as bottles and jars.
Specialty secondary processing can offer a Matte Spray Coating that provides the flat/matte look and rubbery handfeel associated with the soft touch aesthetic. This method is the most flexible in terms of application as almost any component that can be sprayed on the decorator’s equipment can be sprayed with the soft touch effect; including: bottles and jars of most sizes and materials as well as caps and closures. For wider color options, the Matte Spray Coating can be applied to a colored component to achieve your Brand’s specific color requirement. Spray Coating a Matte soft touch is a more expensive process but allows for much greater flexibility of component materials. Keep in mind though, the finish components will require additional packout protection to reduce transit scuff.
A flat matte look can also be achieved in-mould by a vapor honed interior tool surface. This process produces an effect that is matte and has a subtle tactile feel but is not as rubbery soft as the Matte Spray Coating and co-extrusion effect. Once this effect is applied to the tool, it is not able to produce a standard polished component, so our stock tools are typically not available for production with this process – most often – this is available in custom tools or specialty offerings in our stock portfolio. It is worth noting that the in-mold matte process can wear better over time as there is no coating or soft surface that can scuff.
Since the soft touch aesthetic has grown in popularity, manufacturers are constantly working to innovate in this sphere, and it is worthwhile to inquire what specific processes are available for your chosen component and substrate.