Creative Choices for Distinctive Products

by: Dianna Brodine

The products you use to attract and retain customers must strike a balance between utility, eye-catching appeal, and efficient production. No matter what format you require – including marketing kits, POP displays, multimedia packaging, ring binders, and book covers – it can be made more distinctive with the right combination of processes and materials.

There are many factors to consider when selecting the proper materials and decoration options for your information packaging applications. The intended audience, end use, longevity and durability requirements, and perceived value all will help determine the appearance of the end product.

The Versatility of Turned-edge

When you’re looking for eye-catching information packaging, turned-edge manufacturing is flexible enough to handle a wide range of products. Ring binders, book covers, slip cases, tote boxes, point-of-purchase displays, and multimedia packaging are just a few of the possibilities.

The turned-edge process involves gluing a cover material to a board, and then turning the material over the edges of the board to create a wrap. A lining is then applied to the inside of the board to conceal the turned edges, creating an attractive piece both inside and outside.

A key advantage of turned-edge construction is the versatility of wrap materials. From printed and laminated paper to book cloth, vinyl, and more, your turned-edge ring binders and other products can exhibit almost any appearance you imagine. Here are a few additional considerations for each of these wrap materials:

Printed paper – Offset-, screen- and digitally-printed paper offers a colorful impact and economical production regardless of the quantity. In addition to offering outstanding appearance for image-heavy applications, digital printing can allow turned-edge products to be personalized for each user. When used as a turned-edge wrap, keep in mind that printed paper should be film laminated for ample protection.

Synthetic paper – Some products require the look of paper, but with better strength and durability. Synthetic papers such as Tyvek, Polyart, and Yupo offer the best of both worlds, and are ideal for ring binder applications where grease and water are prevalent.

Book cloth – Book cloth is an ideal wrap for case-bound books, ring binders, and other turned-edge products. There are dozens of book cloth varieties available in a rainbow of colors, coated and uncoated finishes, and a range of patterns.

Heat-sealed vinyl – As a decoration, vinyl is applied around board or other support substrate and heat-sealed to encapsulate it. Vinyl can be screen-printed, foil stamped, debossed, or UV coated to make your text and images come alive.

Custom wrap substrates – If your objective is to create a buzz with your products, an experienced information packaging solutions provider should offer you a range of custom wrap materials. These substrates include imitation leather or fur, as well as specially-manufactured materials that mimic the surface of a basketball or tennis ball. Keep in mind that these materials may be costly and require ample preparation time to maintain production schedules.

Poly and Vinyl – There are two other major forms of ring binder and information packaging construction, which use poly (a hard plastic) and vinyl. Each of these materials have its own recommended uses and decoration possibilities:

Polyethylene – Also known as a “cut flush” material, polyethylene is a very rigid and durable plastic that is popular for ring binders and marketing kits. Poly is typically available in thicknesses ranging from .016″ to .110″, allowing you to choose the gauge that best meets your application’s needs.

Poly is available in a rainbow of colors, giving you plenty of creative freedom. Also, its rigidity and water-resistance lend durability for products that will be used in harsh environments.

Vinyl – The versatility of vinyl allows it to be used for both construction and decoration purposes. As a construction material, vinyl can be used as an alternative to board in ring binders and other information packaging applications – a key consideration if your products will be handled harshly. It’s available in a wide range of colors and textures, including film vinyl, print grains, and expanded vinyl.

Decoration Time

Once you’ve chosen the proper cover material for your project, it is time to consider the decoration available. Making your project distinctive will help it to stand out from the competition. The processes listed below can be applied to a variety of cover materials and can be easily adapted to many projects.

Screenprinting is a printing process using ink forced through a fine mesh (the screen) onto the substrate. The ink is then cured using UV lamps, allowing products to be handled quickly. Since this process allows for varying concentrations and layers of ink, it’s ideal for decorating vinyl and plastic ring binders, tote boxes, and pad holders, as well as additional packaging products such as slipcases, slantcases, POP displays, and more.

From a designer’s perspective, screenprinting offers plenty of creative choices. Four-color screenprinting is possible, and ink formulas can include pearl, glitter, and other additives that make your products stand out.

Another distinctive choice is foil stamping and embossing. Foil stamping and embossing can be used to augment intricate images or highlight book titles or other text. With an extensive range of available foils and nearly limitless die design potential, this option offers great flexibility.

A third design option to consider is UV coating. Ultraviolet (UV) coating gives pieces a high-gloss finish that makes images “pop” off of the product surface. UV coating can be applied as either a flood or spot coating, making it useful for both highlighting particular areas of a piece and offering protection. A flexible method of decoration, UV coating is available in several tinted and textured varieties. It even can be applied in glow-in-the-dark and raised coating, giving the appearance of embossing without the use of dies.

Turn Your Binder into a Display

Everyone knows that ring binders and other turned-edge products are designed to hold a variety of materials. But ring binders also can be used as presentation or display pieces that enhance your company’s image. The applications for easel-style ring binders are numerous, including flip charts, promotional materials, and catalogs. Below are some of the display options available for ring binders:

Table tents and easels – A table tent is formed by scoring and folding a single piece of turned-edge or vinyl binder cover material that spans both binder covers. When the binder is opened, the tent unfolds to allow the contents of the binder to wrap over the rings for easy display. A larger binder that holds a great deal of materials will require a sturdier easel that can support the increased weight.

Table tent easel designs are the strongest available for ring binder applications. An alternative design involves a two-piece easel stand that is riveted to the binder. This provides the strength to hold even the largest binders and offers the versatility to display the binders in multiple orientations based on the contents.

Break-back binder – With the break-back easel design, the binder board is split horizontally (perpendicular to the ring metal), allowing the binder to fold in half and stand up at an angle while opened. This allows users to turn pages on the rings while the binder stays upright.

Chris Eckhart is the president of Eckhart & Company, is an Indianapolis, Indiana-based bindery specializing in mechanical binding, loose leaf manufacturing, and information packaging. Chris can be reached at (800) 443-3791 or