by Brittany Willes, PostPress
In 2012, Titleist brand owner Acushnet, along with box manufacturer Curtis Packaging, Sandy Hook, Connecticut, elected to redesign the packaging for the Titleist series of golf balls. Deciding to switch from more traditional foil laminate, Acushnet opted instead to utilize Envirofoil® from Hazen Paper Company, Holyoke, Massachusetts. John Hazen, company president, stated: “Hazen Paper has provided laminated foil paperboard for use in up to 90 percent of the packaging for Acushnets Titleist brands for decades. The switch from foil laminate to transfer-metallized Envirofoil®, and ultimately Enhanced™ Envirofoil®, means packaging with twice the brightness, which allows Acushnet to enhance the presentation and appeal of the Titleist packaging.”
Production of the Titleist golf ball packages begins with the transfer-metallization of the paperboard. Enhanced™ Envirofoil® is created using Hazen’s 65″ wide multi-station film coater. First, rolls of polyester film are coated with a water-based polymer. Originally engineered by Hazen for chrome-like brightness and print receptivity, the polyester is 100-percent free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The film then is passed through Hazen’s 65″ vacuum metallizer, where a microscopic coating of evaporated aluminum is deposited on the film in a layer 300 angstroms thick (An angstrom is one ten-millionth of a millimeter.). “What this means,” Hazen explained, “is that if you took a single Coke can, and rolled it out over the area of a football field, it would still be thicker than the layer of aluminum on this transfer-metallized film.” Finally, the film is laminated to board and then sheeted. As the roll is unwound, the film is peeled off, revealing the invisible, scuff-resistant, highly printable transfer coat – and the brightness of Envirofoil. Envirofoil has a high dyne level (over 50 dynes), making it extremely receptive to printing, which ultimately was completed on sheet-fed offset presses with UV-cured inks.
The process of recreating the Titleist packaging was not without its challenges. “The basic graphic design on the golf ball packages starts with a mirror-like brightness,” stated Hazen. “Envirofoil is brighter than other commercial transfer products (reading 850 on a scale of 0-1,000 on a Gardner Gloss meter, versus under 800 for other commercial products). The challenge was to make a product with this extremely high level of brightness scuff-resistant, printable and stampable.” Tested by a Crock Meter, the Enhanced Envirofoil allowed for twice the scuff resistance of other transfer-metallized products. Additionally, it also has a high affinity for ink. “Rather than just a white paper “canvas,” the versatility of the Enhanced Envirofoil permitted designers to consider the material a powerful design element,” Hazen said. “They were able to make use of the material in sophisticated ways.” Instead of having to rely on the limited impact of hot stamping or cold foil, the designers were able to incorporate the mirror-like shine as much or as little as they liked. Selective use of transparent and opaque inks created the illusion of three-dimensionality, particularly on the ball on the front of the package, as well as the brand name, rendered to recall the seductive curves of a chrome bumper from a classic car.
Beyond the challenges presented by the design itself, Hazen proclaimed the biggest obstacle was the sheer scale of production. As Hazen explained, “The launch of redesigned products, beginning with Pro V1®, began in September 2012 and continued throughout 2013. Deadline, street date and scale-up pressure was significant: Hazen enabled the brand to meet all deadlines and every product launch on schedule, shipping 10 million sheets in 2014.”
Despite the pressures of recreating the Titleist packaging, Hazen Paper proved itself capable of rising to the occasion. At the 2015 annual management meeting of the Association of International Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators (AIMCAL), Hazen was awarded “Product of the Year” for Enhanced™ Envirofoil® for the Titleist NXT® Tour S, Titleist DT® Solo and Titleist VG3® packaging. This followed Hazen’s 2014 AIMCAL Technical award for the use of Envirofoil in Titleist Pro V1® and Pro V1x™ packaging.
According to John Hazen, “With Enhanced Envirofoil, we provided Titleist a performance product – a highly reflective chrome surface unlike any used in primary packaging for a worldwide brand. As a bonus, it’s recyclable.”