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10,000 unique Skratch Labs pouches support Tour de France team

Skratch Labs digital design pile of pouches
Digital printing and special software used by ePac Flexible Packaging (Boulder, CO) created one-of-a-kind packaging that made an impression with cycling fans and others.

Skratch Labs, the Boulder, CO-maker of sports nutrition products for endurance athletes, broke away from the typical pack this summer with a special edition design to show support for the EF Education First Pro Cycling team that competed in the Tour de France. A limited-edition lemon & lime Sports Hydration Mix salutes the team jersey, each in a unique design generated with HP (Palo Alto, CA) Mosaic print technology.

The packaging was produced by ePac Flexible Packaging in Boulder, CO, which is owned by ePac Holdings (Austin, TX). ePac produced the resealable pouches using the  HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press and HP SmartStream Mosaic automated variable design software that yielded 10,000 colorful pouches, each one unique.

“ePac has been a great packaging partner for the past two years,” said Elliot Freeman, Vice-President of Marketing at Skratch Labs. “They came to us with an opportunity to do a short-run packaging design using an HP technology that gives each package its own unique twist on our design. We jumped at the chance to highlight one of our key partners, EF Pro Cycling Team, and their breakthrough jersey design for a limited-edition packaging run. The whole thing came together from idea to reality in three months, just in time for the Tour de France.”

The one-of-a-kind pouches also proved a winner socially.

“The limited edition EF Education First packaging was a big success,” Freeman told PlasticsToday. “We received a lot of attention from cycling fans, in fact they went crazy for it! We saw a big spike, in particular, in social media mentions. Even the EF Pro Cycling team members themselves were taking selfies with our packages.”

Powerful tool, fantastic demo

For the EF Pro Cycling special edition package, Skratch Labs and ePac worked together to implement a design theme that would represent Team EF Pro Cycling’s racing jerseys. The idea was to use the jersey design and color patterns to create a package that would commemorate the team, who is a top contender at this year’s Tour de France. 

ePac produced its first HP Mosaic project for the Skratch Labs EF Pro Cycling limited edition package at its Boulder site on a 30-inch (76 cm) HP Indigo 20000 system that can print virtually any sized flexible packaging application with unlimited variation and support demand for growing SKUs, alongside benefits of reduced waste from minimal setup and production of only the quantities needed. The solution provides converters the freedom to produce nearly any flexible packaging application, in addition to labels and shrink sleeves, on film or paper.

“With HP Mosaic software and our ability to create special metalized effects without metalized inks, we created 10,000 amazing and unique packages,” noted Dustin Steerman, Managing Partner of ePac Boulder.

That’s done by HP SmartStream Mosaic, an algorithm that automatically generates a high number of unique graphic patterns from a “seed” design by randomly transforming a master artwork file, rotating, transposing, interchanging colors and amplifying the design anywhere.

“HP SmartStream Mosaic is an extremely powerful tool,” said Carl Joachim, CMO of ePac Flexible Packaging. “This project is a fantastic demonstration of how sporting team sponsors can use their logos and designs to develop unique items for fans to get into the team spirit and save as collectors’ items.”

Specs, a challenge and a differentiator

PlasticsToday  learned from ePac that the pouches were constructed of a 0.6-mil SoftTouch Matte PE/ 0.48 mil METPET/4.5-mil linear-low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) coextruded with a powder-proof zipper from Presto Products (Appleton, WI) with tear-notch opening.

The pouches were printed at a rate near 68 ft/min, ePac reports.

Freeman identified their main challenge for the project for PlasticsToday. “There was a question of whether the mosaic software would generate any designs that fell outside of our brand guidelines so we had to look at all 10,000 proofs.”

Freeman believes the market awareness created by the overall campaign was excellent, and that the ability to leverage the unique capabilities of digital printing are a differentiator for the brand.

Founded in 2016, ePac is enabling its customer base of small and medium size businesses (SMBs) and brands to benefit from economical short and medium run length jobs, with rapid time to market and high-definition graphics. The Boulder facility is one of six now operating in the U.S. ePac is expanding internationally with sites in the UK and Vancouver, Canada, opening later this year.

For more information, visit ePac Flexible Packaging

TAGS: Stub Materials
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